The Washington Post has maintained a consistent editorial line over the past two years: Haiti is becoming ungovernable, Haitians are not able to figure it out on their own, therefore, the United States must step in to solve the problem. Back in June, the Post's editors called for the United States, France and the United Nations to step in to avoid “full-blown anarchy” and a “descent into Hell” in Haiti. The sad irony is that the US, UN and France were, and remain, the external powers most responsible for that descent. The Post's most recent editorial, “Haiti needs Washington's help to exit its quagmire,” is more of the same, and, like previous missives, striking for its complete blindness about the role the United States is actually playing.
The process laid out the Montana Accord, a civil society effort led by the Commission in Search of Haitian Solution to the Crisis last year, and joined by a coalition of political parties this January, is an effort to create a transitional government to lead the country back toward constitutional rule. This is a process that the Post's editors dismiss as unwieldy and ineffectual, yet end their editorial with a call for Biden to help forge a consensus between Haiti's current President, Ariel Henry, and representatives of the Montana Accord:
The Biden administration has ruled out sending troops, instead paying lip service to finding a Haitian-led exit from the crisis. If there is such a way out — a big if — it might consist in a consensus between the Montana Accord coalition and Mr. Henry's own forces. Forging such an agreement should be high on the Biden administration's agenda. But there is little sign Washington is paying attention to events in the impoverished country — despite its long history of devolving into crises that then become impossible to ignore.
What the Post misses, however, is that the US government's policy is already to bring these sides together - and in doing so, to give Henry an effective veto over what the transition looks like. So, in the guise of critiquing Biden, the Post is simply endorsing the current - failed - policy.
In backing Henry, the United States government is taking sides in an internecine conflict within the ruling PHTK, a rift that had grown between Jovenal Moïse and former president Michel Martelly. This internecine conflict - not “drug dealing” - more likely lies at the root of Moïse's assassination, and why Henry, and more recently Martelly himself, have been implicated in the murder. It is also worth noting that Martelly became president in 2010 as the direct result of United States' intervention into that election - guaranteeing Martelly a place in a run-off he failed to earn based on the official results. The United States has been standing by the PHTK for a decade now, while the party has run the country into the ground.
The Post's editors note that the 15,000 strong national police is “rife with corruption,” but fails to note it was largely built by the United States, in the context of a United Nations occupation. The US government continues to expend millions of dollars on that police force, despite its complicity in multiple massacres of civilians. These crimes against humanity have been documented in a joint report by Harvard Law School and Haitian human rights organizations.
The reality is that US policy has made a significant contribution to creating the current “quagmire.” The United States is not doing too little, it has done too much. It has historically sought to impose a strategic and economic dominance in Haiti - a former colony of the United States (1915-1934) - at the expense of a functioning democracy and any movement in that direction. It continues to do so, and that posture is what must change. The United States needs to get out of the way if there is to be any hope for a democratic future in Haiti.
(An abbreviated version of this post was submitted to The Washington Post as a Letter to the Editor.)