Haitian man with fist up in a march

For Peace in the Americas, We Must Center Haiti

Adapted from remarks given by Austin Cole, Interim Co-Coordinator of Black Alliance for Peace’s Haiti and the Americas Team, as part of “America v. CELAC: Whither the Monroe Doctrine at 200?” hosted by the International Manifesto Group.

As the crisis of imperialism in Haiti continues and US-led ‘Western’ nations debate how best to sell an escalated military invasion, it is imperative that we continue to say No to Military Intervention in Haiti. Yes to Haitian Self-Determination. But this is the bare minimum, we must also understand and center the critical role that Haiti plays in the Western Hemisphere – particularly for Black Self-Determination in the Americas and beyond.

Since gaining independence in 1804, Haiti has been demonized and sabotaged as a way to stifle anti-colonial, anti-slavery revolt throughout the region, as well as Black resistance more generally. In this century, the form this has taken is continued rejections of Haitian sovereignty by the US and the Core Group through the 2004 coup d’etat and UN invasion, the BINUH (2017) UN Occupation of Haiti and the more recent the Global Fragility Act. The contexts and fields of struggles have shifted over time, but the fight in Haiti continues to be with white supremacy, global capitalism and imperialism.

Nonetheless, we must continue to understand that Haiti plays an essential role in the transformation of the Americas, as part of a global anti-colonial, anti-imperialist project and the revolutionary Pan-african movement. At the Black Alliance for Peace, we enter our work in Latin America and the Caribbean through the context of Haiti because we understand this history and complexity.

However, too often, Haiti is celebrated for its exceptional revolutionary history, while the Haitian people’s contemporary struggles to assert their sovereignty are routinely ignored. These are struggles like those of Haitian garment workers and migrants fighting against corporate exploitation and Biden’s deportation regime, as well as those of the popular masses who have taken to the streets for weeks over the last few months to protest conditions and misrepresentation resulting from further imperialist meddling in Haitian affairs. When folks ignore Haiti, they don’t understand that the tactics of imperialism employed there are in use throughout the globe. Possibly worse, without the understanding of the past and present revolutionary resistance of the Haitian people and their critical role in the region, we all miss the opportunity to build solidarity through our connected struggles, and we risk unwittingly perpetuating cycles of imperialist Intervention.

To move beyond limited and reactive solidarity with Haiti in times of crisis, we at Black Alliance for Peace are calling for a Zone of Peace in the Americas that rejects the white supremacist, imperialist, and militarist status quo. Inspired by the 2014 CELAC call for a state-sponsored Zone of Peace, we believe that building bottom-up, society-led anti-imperialist structures will pave the way for the peoples of the Americas to assert their sovereignty. In this, we are informed by the Black Radical Peace Tradition and understand that peace is not the absence of conflict but the achievement by popular struggle and defense of a world liberated from nuclear armaments and proliferation, unjust war and global white supremacy.

Only through such an expansive peace will Haitians, all Africans throughout the Americas, and the oppressed peoples of the world truly assert their sovereignty and build a future with true self-determination.