July 15, 2021


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“Scattered protests broke out in Haiti's capital on Wednesday as gasoline shortages added to concerns over insecurity and police announced new arrests a week after the assassination of President Jovenel Moise pitched the already-troubled Caribbean nation into political chaos… Moise was shot dead at his home by what Haitian authorities describe as a unit of assassins, including 26 Colombians and two Haitian Americans.” Reuters

Many across the political spectrum express grave concerns about the situation in Haiti but nevertheless are skeptical about US intervention:

“Now that Haiti’s institutional leadership is unorganized, street gangs have continued to grow in influence throughout the country. They dominate the streets, have the ability to paralyze the economy, and tyrannize the Haitian people. Jimmy ‘Barbecue’ Cherizier, leader of the G9 Family and Allies gang, said that following Moise’s killing, gangs must ‘practice what we call legitimate violence’ and demand justice against those who carried out the assassination of Moise. Cherizer is linked to several massacres, and his outfit, G9, is one of 30 gangs that run the streets in Haiti’s capital…

The streets of Haiti are dangerous, its government is in disarray, and 60 percent of the island nation’s population makes less than $2 a day. The recent series of events continues Haiti’s legacy of inconsistent self-rule in the modern era. It won’t be impossible for the island nation to recover, but it will take a great deal of cultural effort and political gumption by the Haitian people to resolve many of the nation’s core issues.”
Samuel Mangold-Lenett, American Spectator

“Fragments of the Haitian government have responded by inviting the U.S. government to send in troops. Whatever you may think of this proposal, it is hard to see it as a solution. The U.S. occupied and ruled Haiti from 1915 to 1934 and failed to fix basic problems. The U.S. sent in troops in 1994 to restore order, and again failed to spur a Haitian political renaissance. A 13-year United Nations mission to Haiti ended in 2017, and the UN forces ended up extremely unpopular because they helped spread a cholera epidemic… It is unclear what the U.S. should do about Haiti. It has an obligation to try to help, but it’s possible that not much can be done.”
Tyler Cowen, Bloomberg

“The hard, simple truth is the United States is not going to be the primary engine of political change in either Haiti or Cuba. Meaningful, durable political change in both lies in the hands of the populations themselves…

“In the case of Haiti, the United States needs to send an unmistakable message to all who are looking to Washington to play kingmaker that those days are behind us. The burden of navigating an exceedingly complex political moment in which the country has only 10 legitimately elected officials is on Haitians. The United States -- and other members of the international core group -- can and should play a role in bringing the country's political, civic, and private sector leaders together to chart a path to and through free, fair, and transparent elections. It should not seek to impose decisions on those actors.”
Dan Restrepo, CNN

“Haiti is divided into two factions: the Haitian people, who need everything, and the elite or business class, who have everything. It is basically that stark. And that’s what is being fought over as Haitians and the international community decide how to proceed with governance after Moise’s killing… The fact is, the Haitian people are not a population the international community feels competent to deal with, whereas political figures like Martelly and Moise, who claimed to be in charge and able to run the country, are familiar and acceptable…

“But did Martelly and Moise run the country properly? No. Both men were found by a Haitian appeals court report to have participated in siphoning funds from a $2-billion petroleum discount account set up by Venezuela to benefit Haitian social programs. And that’s only one of the many corrupt schemes they and their close associates have been accused of, to say nothing of undermining Haiti’s institutions, including the Legislature, the municipal bureaucracies and the courts, and allowing gangs to take control of Haiti’s streets and kidnap, rob and kill innocent civilians…

“If the international community insists on supporting Martelly-Moise men such as Claude Joseph, whom Moise had fired as prime minister just days before his murder, there will be no free and fair elections, and the future will continue to be dark and dysfunctional for the Haitian people.”
Amy Wilentz, Los Angeles Times

“Aiding in the investigation is unobjectionable, but the US should avoid taking sides in Haitian political disputes. Washington would risk being drawn into what could become a political maelstrom, given the vacuum that has developed with multiple claimants to power…

Military intervention would be a very bad idea. The US remains more than a little busy in the world. Once in place American forces could not easily leave: new tasks for them would be constantly proposed. There would be an election to run, a new government to protect, a political system to stabilize, an economy to develop… International support could prove useful, but the past is filled with failures. The US should play a supportive role, no more. Ultimately Haiti’s many problems will only be solved in Port‐​au‐​Prince, not Washington.”
Doug Bandow, Cato Institute

“An American military intervention now would not serve a humanitarian purpose. Nor would it serve a law-and-order purpose, unless Americans want the 82nd Airborne to police gang warfare in the streets of Port-au-Prince. What it would do is serve the political purposes of Mr. Joseph, who has effectively declared martial law even though his own claim on power is contested by the man Moïse appointed to take Mr. Joseph’s place just before his death…

“The usual alternative to military assistance is development aid. In Haiti’s case, this is even more destructive… Aid to Haiti fosters dependence, invites embezzlement, enervates the institutions of state and civil society, discourages local initiatives, misdirects capital to donor-favored schemes, enriches the well connected and enrages everyone else…

“A humbler effort — to help impoverished and dispossessed Haitians acquire legal title to their property — would go further to establish a basis for prosperity than another Clinton-financed industrial park. A dedicated anti-corruption effort in Canada, the U.S. and France to track down the ill-gotten gains of Haiti’s political class would also be a useful way of punishing their predatory behavior and encouraging political reform. But the greatest gift the Biden administration can give the people of Haiti is to stop trying to save them.”
Bret Stephens, New York Times

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