The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee advances human rights through grassroots collaborations.
Haiti’s Crisis Needs a Haitian-Led Solution
October 28, 2022
Haiti is in turmoil. Extreme violence has become a daily reality for people throughout the country, with the impact falling hardest on Haitian women and girls. Armed groups have shut down the streets of major cities, interfering with people’s ability to live, work, and move about freely. The cost of living has skyrocketed, with fuel shortages driving up prices of essential goods and interfering with basic utilities. In short, conditions of life have become intolerable for the people of Haiti, who for too long already have suffered the effects of foreign invasion, neo-colonialism, exploitation, and injustice.
In the face of this escalating humanitarian, social, and political crisis, foreign powers—including the United States—are hinting at another wave of armed intervention in Haiti. This would be a catastrophic mistake. Foreign meddling with Haiti’s democracy is the root cause of the country’s current political nightmare, not the solution to it. Previous invasions and foreign “peacekeeping” missions in Haiti have only worsened the country’s problems, bringing undemocratic coups, cholera, sexual violence, and forced labor to the Caribbean nation. Why would another invasion be any different?
Deploying U.S. troops to stabilize the current regime—which governs without a democratic mandate—would only exacerbate the problem. The Haitian people never chose current Prime Minister Ariel Henry for the job. Instead, he was installed through the interference of U.S. and other Global North countries, who once again sidelined Haitian democracy in favor of an unelected strongman who they believed would serve their interests. During Henry’s tenure, conditions of life in Haiti have steadily gotten worse, not better.
Nor are the Haitian people themselves calling for intervention. Contrary to many narratives in the U.S. media, Haiti’s people are not passively waiting for an outsider to rescue them from their current humanitarian crisis. Instead, they are showing leadership where the current regime and its U.S. backers have failed. Our partners are among these Haitian people leading a Haitian solution to the crisis. Right now, UUSC’s grassroots partners in Haiti are:
- Providing medical, emotional, and pscyho-social support to Haitian women and children survivors of rape, gang recruitment, and sexual exploitation at the hands of armed groups, state actors, and domestic abusers.
- Strengthening protections for women and children at heightened risk of gender-based violence at home and in the streets.
- Increasing access to safe water and sanitation and strengthening hygiene practices to boost cholera prevention.
- Distributing hygiene items, cleaning supplies, and mosquito repellent to prevent the spread of infectious diseases like insect-borne viruses and COVID-19.
- Distributing learning supplies and books to help meet Haitian children’s educational needs while so many schools are closed due to armed violence.
- Providing cash and food to impoverished farmers.
- Continuing to report on human rights abuses and fighting for freedom of the press amidst governmental censorship.
- Supporting organizational leadership and staff who face burnout and despair amidst the country’s escalating crisis.
- Strengthening social movements and organizations in Haiti that are mobilizing for sovereignty and against imperialism.
These rapid responses both serve to meet people’s immediate needs while tackling the political and structural root causes of Haiti’s crisis. Instead of investing in neo-colonial interventions in Haiti that have harmed the country time and again, our partners are leading a solution by, for, and of the Haitian people.
You can help. By contributing to UUSC’s emergency appeal for Haiti, you will help our partners forge the Haitian-led solution their country needs. Every dollar helps their efforts to save lives, stop the violence, and meet people’s basic needs in a time of unimaginable hardship—all while laying the groundwork to rebuild Haitian society on a democratic and independent basis. Help us sustain their work in both the present and the future. Make your contribution today.
Photo caption and credit: A protester yells anti-government slogans during an anti-corruption protest to demand the resignation of the president Jovenel Moïse in Port-au-Prince, Haiti (June 9, 2019). Protesters denouncing corruption paralyzed much of the capital as they demanded the removal of President Jovenel Moïse. (Credit: Dieu-Nalio Chery)