Haiti continues to deal with a heart-breaking crisis situation of extreme violence and food insecurity. Now the US government has signed an agreement with the government of Kenya to provide financial and other support for a Kenya-led “international police” action in Haiti. While the situation is desperate, I remain unconvinced that armed international intervention is the right solution.
Haitians and Haitian-Americans have the most important voices in this discussion, and they are talking, if only the US government would listen. Recently, our partners in Haiti, along with Quixote Center, organized a meeting with Senator Schumer’s staff so that his office could hear the perspective of Haitian community leaders in Gros Morne. Gros Morne has been in practical lockdown as a result of gang activity; yet leaders did not ask for armed intervention. They asked that the US stop the shipment of arms and ammunition to Haiti, and strengthen sanctions against gangs and their supporters. Everyone knows that Haiti does not produce weapons, and everyone knows they are coming from the US.
The Haitian Conference of Catholic Bishops (Conference Episcopal d’Haiti) also just released a strong letter, writing:
The population is taken hostage by the merciless violence of gangs and their allies; it has been cheated in the inaction and complicit silence of the government. A low-intensity war against the peaceful and unarmed population is raging in the country.
The bishops call for the people of Haiti to come together in a process of prayer, encounter, and national reconciliation. They go on to say:
We further demand that the public authorities and other sectors of the nation stop at the same time their complicity and support for armed gangs, that the police become the ally of the population, and that political-social dialogue be built based on the real needs of the people. May the solution formulas used for too long and which achieve nothing urgently give way to others to put an end to this inhumane situation which we are trying to survive and which brings shame to such a great nation.
Although they do not state it directly, the bishops notably do not call for armed intervention, which arguably is one of the previously-used solution formulas which achieved nothing. They also affirm what all Haitians know: that the current government is colluding with the gangs.
Finally, two prominent Haitian-American organizations, NHAEON and FANM, both of which Quixote Center works with regularly, have sent an open letter to the Administration opposing armed intervention because it amounts to support for an illegitimate government with known ties to the gangs, and thus will likely make things worse. This has also been Quixote Center’s position and my chief concern. Instead they call for:
● No military intervention and/or UN led mission in Haiti
● Withdraw support for the De Facto Dr. Ariel Henry Regime
● Support the Establishment of a Legitimate Transitional Government
● Block and investigate arms shipments to Haiti
Quixote Center calls on the United Nations and the United States to end its practice of using armed intervention as the solution to this crisis. Haitian and Haitian-American leaders are providing creative and reasonable alternatives to end the crisis in Haiti. Let’s start paying attention.