Workers Vanguard No. 955

26 March 2010


All U.S./UN Troops Out of Haiti Now!

Please see the statement of the International Executive Committee of the International Communist League (Fourth Internationalist), "Repudiating Our Position on Haiti Earthquake: A Capitulation to U.S. Imperialism"

It is now more than two months since Haiti was struck by the earthquake that left over 200,000 of its nine million people dead. The quake has multiplied the desperate conditions of what was already the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Even before the devastation wreaked by it, nearly one out of every two Haitians had no regular access to drinking water and more than half the population survived on less than one dollar a day. Two centuries of looting by the U.S. and France and repeated American invasions to install and prop up brutal tinpot dictatorships had left the populace utterly exposed to the ravages of this natural disaster and totally reliant on outside aid. The quisling state administration of President René Préval—a fig leaf for a United Nations occupation regime—installed in 2006 at U.S. imperialism’s behest, collapsed as rapidly as did the tin shacks housing much of the population.

As part of a “relief effort,” the Obama administration dispatched some 20,000 troops and a flotilla of naval vessels to Haiti, not least in order to prevent Haitians from fleeing to the U.S. and to shore up the UN occupation force, which itself was damaged by the quake. Some 2,000 additional UN troops have been sent to the country, as well as an additional 1,500 UN police.

In response to the quake, a range of pseudo-socialist groups in the U.S. rushed to beg the American imperialists to do right by the Haitian people and send “aid not troops.” In this, groups like the International Socialist Organization (ISO) and Workers World Party (WWP) served only to aid Democrat Obama, whose election they had hailed, in providing a “humanitarian” facelift for blood-drenched U.S. imperialism. The notion that the imperialist powers that have laid waste to this small black country will serve the interests of the Haitian masses is a sick joke.

As we made clear in our article, “Haiti Earthquake Horror: Imperialism, Racism and Starvation” (WV No. 951, 29 January), while we were not for the U.S. military going into Haiti, neither were we going to demand, in the immediate aftermath of that horrific natural disaster, the immediate withdrawal of any forces that were supplying such aid as was reaching the Haitian masses. But the continued presence of any U.S. or UN military forces can only be a dagger aimed at the social and national aspirations of the Haitian toiling people. All U.S./UN troops and police out now!

In a 1941 article titled “Shall We Campaign for U.S. Government Aid to the USSR?” (Militant, 19 July 1941), the then-Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party (SWP) underlined: “There is a difference between not raising any objection, when a capitalist government sends aid, and agitating for such aid. The key to the whole question consists in the understanding that we cannot rely on bourgeois governments to aid our cause.” The SWP was addressing the demand of the Stalinist Communist Party that the U.S. provide aid to the Soviet Union following the June 1941 Nazi invasion amid the Second World War. The Trotskyists opposed all the belligerent imperialist powers in that interimperialist slaughter, while standing for the unconditional military defense of the Soviet degenerated workers state.

But while the circumstances were different than those in Haiti today, the Marxist method outlined by our Trotskyist forebears remains fully valid. To call on the imperialists to provide aid means taking “responsibility for bourgeois governmental policy.” Drawing out the logic of the Stalinists’ position, the SWP article added: “Were we to agitate for aid to the Soviet Union by the Roosevelt government, would we then not be compelled to favor convoys to guarantee the arrival of the material shipped to the Soviet Union? Should we then not demand that the waters to Vladivostok be kept open by the U.S. government against Japan?” Indeed, the Stalinists’ call for imperialist aid was part and parcel of their support to the “democratic” imperialists in World War II.

In Haiti today, the U.S. imperialists have basically achieved their purpose, including a blunt reassertion to the rest of the world, most notably French imperialism, that the Caribbean remains an “American lake.” They are patting themselves on the back for a job well done as they wind down their military deployment in Haiti to 8,000 soldiers in order to direct troops back to where the Pentagon needs them—as part of the armies of occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan. At the same time, some 9,000 UN troops and 3,600 UN cops are to occupy Haiti. The U.S. and other imperialist military forces in the Caribbean are a particular threat to the Cuban bureaucratically deformed workers state. Defend Cuba! U.S. out of Guantánamo! All U.S. troops and bases out of Puerto Rico!

Meanwhile, the Obama administration’s vaunted offer of temporary legal status for undocumented Haitian immigrants in the U.S. has been shown to be the sham that it is, as only a small percentage of these immigrants has been able to afford the $500 application fees for the legal permits. Anybody who has made it to the U.S. should have the right to stay and work here. Down with the racist ban on Haitian refugees! Full citizenship rights for all immigrants!

The notion purveyed by reformists like the ISO and WWP that U.S. imperialism can be cajoled or pressured into serving the needs of the oppressed, rather than its own class interests, shows boundless illusions in the good offices of the rapacious American ruling class. Such illusion-mongering goes hand in hand with fawning over Third World populist nationalists like Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Préval’s mentor, who was restored to the presidential palace in Port-au-Prince in 1994 by a U.S. invasion force after being ousted by a (U.S.-backed) military coup. Aristide was then subsequently whisked away by the U.S. in 2004.

Taking up the left flank of the reformists is the centrist Internationalist Group (IG). In a 20 January article, the IG grotesquely and cynically claimed that the earthquake provided an opening for socialist revolution in Haiti, “particularly at present where the machinery of the capitalist state is largely reduced to rubble and a few marauding bands of police.” As we wrote in response in WV No. 951, “not only is the state ‘largely reduced to rubble,’ but so is the society as a whole,” underlining that “there is a military power in Haiti that is far from ‘reduced to rubble,’ and it’s U.S. imperialism.” Indeed, the only force that seemed to share the IG’s delusions of an uprising in Haiti after the quake was the Pentagon.

Yet the IG denounced us as “supporting imperialism” because we didn’t call for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops. As we stated, in a situation where there were no good alternatives, we were “not going to call for an end to such aid as the desperate Haitian masses can get their hands on.” That the IG conjured up fantasies of a workers uprising was little more than an effort to give a phony “revolutionary” veneer to Haitian populists and others who used the earthquake to reinforce the illusions of the Haitian masses in Aristide (see “Haiti: IG Conjures Up Revolution Amid the Rubble,” WV No. 952, 12 February).

The desperate conditions of Haiti cannot be resolved within Haiti. To end the grinding poverty and degradation of the Haitian people, the imperialist system must be swept away through international socialist revolution. What there is of a working class in Haiti has neither the social weight nor industrial concentration to effect a revolutionary transformation of that society. But in the Dominican Republic, Canada and the U.S. there are hundreds of thousands of Haitian workers who can play a vital role in the struggle for socialist revolution. As we stressed in WV No. 951: “The key to the liberation of Haiti lies in proletarian revolution throughout the hemisphere, in which the mobilization of the sizable Haitian proletariat in the diaspora can play a key role.... It is only this revolutionary internationalist program that holds out any genuine perspective for the liberation of the Haitian masses.”