Haiti has been devastated by centuries of external intervention. The United States uses natural disasters in the Caribbean to impose harmful cycles of “charitable aid.”
The United States is continuing this legacy by weaponizing the most recent disastrous tragedy as an opportunity to further extract wealth and resources from the already economically plundered country, and this isn’t this first time.
Haiti has for centuries been brutalized by white empires. As recently as July 7th 2021, Haitian President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated just weeks before the country was struck by a devastating earthquake. The assassination has since been indicted as a conspiracy involving a number of US military agents who remain detained with charges for their complicity.
Hidden in the rubble are the ways that imperialism set the stage for this ongoing political crisis. At the root of Haiti’s oppression lies racism, capitalism, and imperialism.
In simpler terms this means that an imperial state power uses this two-pronged method to ensure domination: either (a) tells your country to do something (diplomacy), or (b) if your country decides it’s not in your best interest to do what the imperial state power asks, they violently extract it using military means.
That is the simplified version of how imperialism works.
Racism can be understood as the political project of white supremacy. In other words, racism is the tool which white supremacy uses to maintain itself and continually evolve.
Capitalism on the other hand can be described as an economic logic that is driven by profit and powered by exploiting everyday people.
For example, American Capitalism is how you can have billionaires who could spend over $5 million a day and would not go broke for over 100 years – living in the same society where people live unhoused and often are killed by freezing temperatures, heat exhaust or other elements.
Capitalism is the life-long violent exploitation of the many for the benefit of the few. Capitalism as a social system cares nothing about human life, only the never-ending accumulation of money.
Jemima Pierre, professor of Black Studies and Anthropology at University of California, gave an example of Haiti’s struggle against white capitalist imperialism after the 2010 earthquake.
Her evidence describes how Hillary and Bill Clinton flew to the northern city of Cape Haitian to publicly open a new Industrial Park.
The park, which was funded with $124 million from US taxpayers, was located far away from the earthquake site, and was instead used to build a factory complex designed to entrap and exploit Haitians using sweatshop labor.
In the wake of 2010, Bill Clinton was supposed to co-chair a recovery commission with members appointed by the Haitian government. Instead, his position was used to lay the infrastructure for the parasitic expansion of capitalist exploitation into Haitian markets.
“Disaster Aid” remains the primary propaganda phrase utilized to justify intervention into Haiti. Real aid after a disaster, as in aid which actually helps people impacted by the disaster, is absolutely necessary. But what happens today as well as for decades in the past has only been US aid tied to insatiable desire for profit and power.
This history is particularly important to consider now as Haiti encounters yet another wave of natural disasters. Most important is to understand the way that past disaster response and international aid projects actually created and increased the likelihood of future crises.
In the wake of 2010, assistance could have been aimed at developing Haitian infrastructure to a level much more capable of withstanding earthquakes and hurricanes.
Instead, the main purpose of international aid was to lock Haiti in a position of economic subservience in which every ecological disaster further subjected Haiti to the economic disasters of capitalism.
The maintenance of imperialism and racial capitalism relies upon a future in which Haiti is always on the precipice of natural disaster. Natural disasters in Haiti are highlighted by political disasters which exacerbate the devastation felt by Haitian people.
But natural disasters simultaneously hide the political roots of their devastation. In the horrifying after tremors of an earthquake or the apocalyptic torrents of a hurricane, the quiet whispers of politicians, CIA officers, and capitalists are drowned out by immediate pain and suffering.
Behind the devastation being wrought on Haiti by the most recent string of natural disasters is an imperial strategy to keep Haitian infrastructure vulnerable, to keep the Haitian political process unstable, and to keep the Haitian people impoverished.
Death to imperialism. Death to racial capitalism. And free our Black brothers and sisters in Haiti from the apocalyptic clutches of white supremacy!