The United Nations, a tool of imperialism: “The Stabilization of Haiti”
As Ted Grant pointed out, “Since the Second World War, there have been wars every year, and in everyone, the United Nations has been unable to take action.” The UN ‘peacekeeping’ forces seem to resemble a man trying to mop up a flood with a hand sponge, so relentless is capitalism’s drive to war and chaos. But it is worse than that, the UN ‘peacekeepers’ are not just weak; where they are deployed, it is not in the interests of peace but of the dominant imperialism.
This was shown very clearly in Congo in the 1960s, but it is also shown in Haiti today. The UN’s lack of interest in promoting peace and helping to get this impoverished country on its feet is glaringly obvious; the only reason most are unaware of it is that our media is not interested in telling its story.
The UN occupation of Haiti (see also Haiti 2004-2014: 10 years of the UN’s Military Dictatorship) has been ongoing for eleven years now, and is quite deliberately called the ‘UN Mission for the Stabilisation of Haiti’ (MINUSTAH), in much the same way the North Korean regime refers to itself as democratic. This occupation follows a US facilitated coup in 2004 against the left-wing president Aristide, who was Haiti’s first elected president. The UN mission’s official role is as a neutral arbiter to stabilise the country amidst the violence in the coup’s aftermath. In reality it has acted to suppress any attempts by Haitians to organise politically against the coup regime and in favour of Aristide or any other left-wing, anti-US government force.
The UN forces have even barred Aristide from returning to the country (ostensibly to prevent any violence his presence would supposedly cause, ignoring the fact that the coup and its violence was organised by the current regime!). In 2005 US ambassador James Foley wrote in a confidential cable that an August 2004 poll "showed that Aristide was still the only figure in Haiti with a favorability rating above 50%."
“At a meeting with U.S. State Department officials on 2 August 2006, former Guatemalan diplomat Edmond Mulet, then chief of MINUSTAH, ‘urged US legal action against Aristide to prevent the former president from gaining more traction with the Haitian population and returning to Haiti’. At Mulet’s request, UN secretary general Kofi Annan urged South Africa’s president Thabo Mbeki ‘to ensure that Aristide remained in South Africa’...In a 2008 United States embassy cable, former US ambassador to Haiti Janet Sanderson emphasized that: ‘A premature departure of MINUSTAH would leave the [Haitian] government...vulnerable to...resurgent populist and anti-market economy political forces—reversing gains of the last two years. MINUSTAH is an indispensable tool in realizing core USG [US government] policy interests in Haiti.’"
As befits a political occupation, the MINUSTAH forces engage in direct repression of the Haitian people. According to a Brazilian soldier who was part of the UN mission here, “The truth is that that not a day passes where the UN troops don’t kill a Haitian in an exchange of fire. I myself definitely killed two, others, I didn’t look back to see”. (Folha de SP, 29/01/2006). Independent journalists say that more than 20,000 have died or disappeared in the last 10 years!
The leader of the Brazilian Lawyers’ Association (OAB-RJ) Anderson Bussinger Carvalho, pointed out that the international military occupation under the command of Brazil [i.e. MINUSTAH] “has an interest in exploiting Haitian labour through free zones.” The working day is often longer than 12 hours a day and the minimum wage amounts to a pitiful $120 a month.
The MINUSTAH forces routinely raid Haitian slums, ostensibly against drug dealers, but in reality against the so-called “resurgent populist and anti-market economy political forces”. Tens of thousands have been killed and many have been raped. In November 2007, 114 members of the 950 member Sri Lanka peacekeeping contingent in Haiti were accused of sexual misconduct and abuse. 108 members, including 3 officers were then sent back after being implicated. The UN Office of Internal Oversight Services has admitted that “acts of sexual exploitation and abuse (against children) were frequent and occurred usually at night, and at virtually every location where the contingent personnel were deployed.” In 2015 MINUSTAH peacekeepers were accused of abusing hundreds more Haitians.
If this wasn’t bad enough, the UN ‘peacekeepers’ have brought cholera to the island for first time in 150 years, leading to over 9000 deaths! Trying to wriggle out of this scandal, the UN is relying on its official legal immunity! But the UN is clearly responsible - Nepalese members of its forces were not screened for cholera despite the disease being prevalent in Nepal! “The UN mission hired a private contractor to ensure sanitary conditions for its force in Haiti, but the contractor was poorly managed and failed to provide adequate infrastructure at the UN camp in Mirebalais. As a result, contaminated sewage was deposited in the Meille river, a tributary of the Artibonite, Haiti’s longest and most important river.” (The Guardian, 11.3.2014)
MINUSTAH is evidently nothing short of a military occupation on behalf of the interests of those dominant imperial powers who bankroll and run the UN. They don’t want to see a popular left-wing government in place, and feel the country is sufficiently ‘beneath the radar’ of public opinion and international interests for them to get away with occupying it. This then enables their companies to exploit its labour free from government intervention. This sums up the character of the UN in general.
By Daniel Morley