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Will A Foreign Invasion Fix Haiti This Time?
On the Insane Push for a Fourth Occupation of Haiti
“It was, of course, the commercial monopolists, and not old Cato and his figs, who destroyed Carthage. These horse-leeches of the world could not bear the modest rivalry of either Corinth or Carthage.” - John Mahaffy [Appian, The Foreign Wars, Horace White trans. “The Punic Wars” Citation 7.]
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Introduction: An Unfortunate Country
The Western powers are considering “intervening” in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, for what would be the 4th time in a century, if you count the fact that the US occupation had already started 100 years ago. It’s a trite saying that “Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results” but that is exactly the case in this situation. This time, following the assassination of President Jovenal Moise in July of 2021 a man named Ariel Henry seized power as Prime Minister with Western backing. Henry has suspended elections indefinitely, and has never allowed a new President to enter office, thus ruling entirely unconstitutionally. Now, a new “Monster of the Week,” a “gang leader” called Barbecue has blocked the country’s main oil port demanding that the Prime Minister step down and hold elections. While there is a legitimate humanitarian crisis in Haiti [as there always is, due to extreme poverty], the main concern seems to be that Western financial interests have a deranged obsession with profiting off of every country no matter how small or poor. Even with a global population of almost 8 billion people they cannot stand the thought of an impoverished nation of 11 million people being out of their economic control- especially if the oil has stopped flowing in. Being as one can dismiss the idea that the Western globalist powers are acting out of genuine goodness and humanitarian concerns, there is no other explanation for their chronic inability to leave Haiti alone- a country without a proper military and too poor to be a threat to anyone. Buckle up, because this is a wild story about a profoundly dysfunctional country that has been perpetually victimized from the time it found freedom.
The History: Doomed From the Start
Haiti is the only sovereign nation which was founded from a slave revolt. The Haitian Revolution, which began in 1791 and ended in 1804, left former slaves in total control of a country where slavery was abolished. It has been called the largest slave uprising since Spartacus’ war against the Romans some 1900 years before. Despite the hypocritical rhetoric you may hear from Western supporters of “universal values,” Machiavelli is correct when he says, “A state that becomes free creates for itself enemies rather than friends.” [Discourses, I.16] Nowhere is this more true than Haiti, which realized a scenario of which slave states throughout the Americas lived in constant fear and presented an enormous challenge to slavery as a system. The United States- despite being born of revolution- enforced a trade embargo against Haiti and did not recognize the country for almost 60 years, when Lincoln recognized Haiti in 1862 for obvious domestic political reasons as well as in the hopes of deporting freed slaves to the country. I believe that besides Ethiopia, Haiti was the only independent black-led state in the world at this time and the great majority of the world had a genetically European ruling class in one form or another. Starting out with an uneducated population of former slaves without training in the skills of free men and limited access to investment and trade Haiti began its free life in an abysmal situation for economic growth. This combination of circumstances meant the public had to rely on low-profit activities such as subsistence farming, gathering, and fishing to survive. On top of everything else, the French perpetually extorted the country under threat of invasion, in essence making Haitians pay reparations for their own freedom.
Following the recognition of Haiti by the United States, there was an increase in American financial investment, which led to its own serious problems. Haiti suffered from great instability between 1911 and 1915 with 7 different presidents either assassinated or overthrown. This led to the United States removing $500,000 from the Haitian National Bank in 1914 and moving it to New York City for “safekeeping.” Following that, in 1915, urged on by Wall Street- especially the bank which would become Citigroup- the United States fully invaded and occupied the country. Earlier this year, the New York Times released an excellent expose on the sordid tale, titled, “Invade Haiti, Wall Street Urged. The U.S. Obliged.” The article includes this about what American financial interests did to the nation:
“Under heavy pressure from National City Bank, Citigroup’s predecessor, the Americans elbowed the French aside and became the dominant power in Haiti for decades to come. The United States dissolved Haiti’s parliament at gunpoint, killed thousands of people, controlled its finances for more than 30 years, shipped a big portion of its earnings to bankers in New York and left behind a country so poor that the farmers who helped generate the profits often lived on a diet “close to starvation level,” United Nations officials determined in 1949, soon after the Americans let go of the reins.
“I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues,” Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler, a leader of the American force in Haiti, wrote in 1935, describing himself as a “racketeer for capitalism.”
The US also implemented the coercive system of unpaid labor known as corvee to build infrastructure, an ancient system whereby supposedly free people must dedicate months of the year to unpaid labor. Thus, after more than a hundred years the United States re-enslaved the Haitians on the grounds of helping them. The US directly occupied the country for 19 years, during which it put down two rebellions known as the Caco Wars. The occupation was a bonanza for financial interests set on exploiting this small, impoverished island nation. And as ever, this was all done under the claim of helping the Haitians. There is an impulse to think “bad things happened in the past but it is different now” but the game always remains the same and the elite leadership class would not care what was going on in Haiti but for a desire to exploit it. They can’t be content to sell things to wealthy nations- Haiti’s poverty gives them a whole different lust for power. I am reminded of a famous quote from Tacitus about the Roman Empire:
“Brigands of the world, they have exhausted the land by their indiscriminate plunder, and now ransack the sea. The wealth of an enemy excites their cupidity, his poverty their lust for power. East and West have failed to glut their maw. They are unique in being as violently tempted to attack the poor as the wealthy. Robbery, butchery, rapine, the liars call Empire; they create a desolation and call it peace.”
- Calgacus the Caledonian [Tacitus, Agricola, 30]
Speaking of exhausting their land and then ransacking the sea, here is the story of how the US came to outright own a small Haitian island:
Haiti maintained a degree of independence for most of the rest of the 20th century, most notably under the tyranny of the Duvaliers, known as Papa Doc and Baby Doc. Belief in Voodoo is widespread in Haiti and part of how Papa Doc maintained control was through the perception that he was some sort of Voodoo priest. The Duvaliers were brutal and difficult to work with, but as was common at the time they were tolerated and often supported by the United States due to their anti-communist stance.
Following the Duvaliers, a man named Aristide became the country’s first democratically elected President. He was overthrown in a coup in 1991. This prompted the second US invasion of Haiti, operation “Restore Democracy,” where Bill Clinton sent 20,000 troops and two aircraft carriers to put Aristide back in power. The US and the UN would stay in Haiti until 2000. Notably, the country’s military was disbanded and replaced by a National Police Force. This was meant to prevent coups, something which it has failed to do. What is funny about that is it is not really possible to say Haiti is a threat to any other nation as it lacks the tools to threaten other nations even if it had the desire to do so.
In 2004, after two unsuccessful coup attempts, a successful coup removed Aristide from power and the United States helped him flee the country, which was followed by the United States, Canada, France, and Chile invading. This was followed by a UN Peacekeeping mission which lasted until 2017. This mission was marred by problems, as explained by the Washington Post:
“The U.N.’s 2004-2017 peacekeeping mission was marred by allegations of sexual assault by its troops and staffers and the fact that peacekeepers from Nepal were blamed for introducing cholera into Haiti’s largest river in October 2010 by sewage runoff from their base. The U.N. has since acknowledged it played a role in the epidemic and that it had not done enough to help fight it, but it has not specifically acknowledged it introduced the disease.
Fatton said that while the U.N. mission “established a modicum of order,” in Haiti, it was a “very repressive organization.”
“To destroy gangs, they used forceful means. That left a very bad taste with poor Haitians,” he said, noting that they live side-by-side with gangs in slums. “Whether you’re with the gangs or not, you suffered the consequences.”
The most ridiculous part of this is that the UN brought disease to Haiti. The UN probably recommended getting like 10 weird vaccinations before entering the country. On top of that, they essentially just made themselves a faction in gang violence. What’s more, they had just ended a near identical occupation, so they already knew that this strategy wouldn’t work but just couldn’t help themselves. There are surely vast corrupt profits to be made from the suffering of the Haitian people which made it too good to resist. And now, five years later, the ever-creative Western leaders want to do the exact same thing and expect different results, and at least some people must be stupid enough to think its from the good of their hearts. What’s even more funny, is to some in the media this whole story demonstrates hesitation to deploy US troops:
A Brazen Assassination
The Washington Post Editorial Board is even more enthusiastic for this use of force than usual:
I love the upper right one where they acknowledge that no one has any ideas besides sending troops. They called for an intervention on the day of the assassination and then 6 days later said everyone was completely out of ideas. They didn’t even consider giving Haiti a chance to solve this. So how did the current round of “Crisis in Haiti” start?
In short, Haiti was enjoying a period of relative political stability when on July 7th the President Jovenal Moise’s home was attacked by a massive Colombian hit squad. Incredibly, there were 26 Colombian military veterans and 2 Haitian-Americans in the hit squad, which is enormous for an assassination plot. They encountered no resistance in the President’s house, leading to speculation that the President’s security were in on the plot. It is alleged the assassins were initially duped into the operation, but you don’t accidentally assassinate someone with a 28 man squad.
The assassins were hired through a sketchy Miami-based security firm called CTU. This firm has a history of bankruptcy and avoiding debt payment, and was seemingly desperate for the lucrative work. The owner is a Venezuelan national named Antonio Intriago who is said to have traveled to Haiti multiple times and signed a contract there. What’s more, the Pentagon acknowledged that “a small number” of the Colombians were trained by the US, presumably at the notorious School of the Americas. It’s all strange though because these elite soldiers did little to conceal their presence and seemingly didn’t have any exit strategy after a high profile assassination. The above linked AP article included this quote:
“Nelson Romero Velasquez, an ex-soldier and attorney who is advising 16 families of the Colombians held in Haiti, said Wednesday that the men had all served in the Colombian military’s elite special forces and could operate without being detected, if they had desired. He said their behavior made it clear they did not go to Haiti to assassinate the president.
“They have the ability to be like shadows,” Romero Velasquez said.”
That is indeed all strange, but it is not possible to believe you are working as a body guard then just somehow burst into a house to kill the resident. At the same time, it makes absolutely no sense for professional operators to assassinate a political leader than just go hide in the bushes, as they are described to have done. Given the length and brutality of Colombia’s civil war there is every reason to believe that Velasquez is correct and Colombian Special Forces veterans could do a much better job of assassinating someone. One claim is that it was their belief they were supposed to be “arresting” the President, but that would be literally doing a coup and they could not have possibly believed there was any legal authority for a group of foreign mercenaries to do such a thing.
Though the murder remains officially unsolved, blame was quickly placed on a man named Christian Emmanuel Sanon. Sanon, a Haitian-American dual citizen, is described as a pastor, doctor, and humanitarian who spends his time between Port-Au-Prince and Florida. It is unclear how Sanon would have had funds to hire 28 mercenaries, why he would want to kill Moise, and how he could have believed he would take power if Moise was killed. Sanon does not appear to have any history of political leadership within Haiti or any prior connection to the Haitian government, though his role in charitable foundations is somewhat prominent. Overall, the accusation does not seem particularly credible. It’s true that Moise was refusing to leave office after his term had expired, which is at least a plausible reason to assassinate someone instead of attempting less drastic methods of taking power. The National Police Director Leon Charles said, “He came with the intention to take over as President of the Republic,” a strong accusation for which he provided no other evidence but that an accused assassin allegedly called Sanon when the police surrounded them, something which could have any number of more benign explanations. I’m more interested in the fact that several of the assassins had ties to US law enforcement.
It would be pretty on-brand for the US government to use someone like Sanon for various “intelligence” purposes then drop him after a bungled attempt to put him in power. However, a New York Times investigation revealed that current Prime Minister Ariel Henry was in contact with two of the assassins and remained in contact after they were wanted men, so it seems the most likely Henry did the assassination with tacit US approval and Sanon was a patsy whom Henry feared would be a problem for the new regime.
Either way, the end result is the same: Haiti’s President was killed and Ariel Henry, with the backing of the "Core Group" which “comprises ambassadors to Haiti from Canada, Germany, Brazil, Spain, the United States, France and the European Union, as well as representatives from the United Nations and the Organization of American States” pushed Prime Minister Claude Joseph out and and took power.
A Usurper In Charge
Himself being foreign placed and never elected, Henry was quick to clamp down on what democracy was left in Haiti. In September of 2021 he disbanded the Provisional Electoral Council. The US Special Envoy to Haiti, Daniel Foote, resigned in protest, stating,
“Last week, the U.S. and other embassies in Port-au-Prince issued another public statement of support for the unelected, de facto Prime Minister Dr. Ariel Henry as interim leader of Haiti, and have continued to tout his ‘political agreement’ over another broader, earlier accord shepherded by civil society.”
It’s not clear why this group gave Henry so much support. We can completely ignore any pretense that they have a legitimate concern about democracy or human rights. It seems highly unlikely that modern Haiti would have any regime capable of resisting the desire for corrupt profits of the neo-imperialist financial interests controlling the “Core Group.” Even the Duvaliers, one of the more strange and erratic regimes of the modern era, were ultimately subservient to the US geopolitical interests of the day, and now there isn’t really communism to compete with in any meaningful sense [though because of all of this some Haitians do now wave Russian flags, more on that later.] Further, the sheer fact that they were able to make Claude Joseph resign demonstrates he was to a great extent controllable in that position. It seems that Henry’s utter lack of real and perceived legitimacy are causing more obstacles to the ability to fleece Haiti than would have been done by any democratically elected candidate, on top of which there must be real challenges involved in governing a nation designed to have both a President and a Prime Minister with only one of those things. It’s strange- and must signal a lack of power- that they didn’t find a way to place any form of President, be it Henry moving up or a puppet or something. I can’t think of any other instance of a state just not having a Head of State for any significant length of time.
The Haitian People Rise Up
Already unstable and dealing with a legitimacy crisis and frequent protests, Ariel Henry made the same mistake as the former President of Sri Lanka and subjected his island nation to the ludicrous anti-human advice of the World Economic Forum and their “great reset.” In this instance, that decision was to cut fuel subsidies, not for the budgetary reasons one might think, but to help end the use of fossil fuels. Renewable energy is not a viable solution for wealthy European countries, as Europe has recently learned, but the idea that a tiny, extremely poor, overcrowded island nation can turn against fossil fuels and survive is insane. And this is at a time that Haiti was already suffering from 29% inflation and having regular cost of living protests. The country exploded.
I have to agree with Haiti-born sociologist Alex Dupuy’s cynical take on why Henry created this situation and is letting it continue:
“[Henry] doesn’t seem to be fazed at all by the chaos and is probably benefiting from it because it allows him to hold on to power and prolong as long as possible the organization of new elections.”
Henry said that he has “no desire to stay in power longer than necessary,” and himself desires to hold elections as soon as possible. No reasonable person would believe that, especially given the way in which he took power. That is also ostensibly his reason for wanting an international “intervention,” though no one would believe that either, being as everyone else in Haiti wants elections and that itself would calm the public.
No Gas for the Barbecue
The most important reaction to the end of fuel subsidies was that one of Haiti’s powerful “gangs” dug trenches and blocked the nation’s main fuel port, crippling the already volatile and impoverished country. This brings us to this episode’s “Monster of the Week,” a gentleman called Barbecue. This isn’t as bad as the notorious General Butt Naked in Liberia, but I think we can say you’ve done pretty well for yourself if your name is Barbecue and the world’s most powerful empire has taken enough notice to be upset. So who is Barbecue, the proud new recipient of those reliably successful Western sanctions? [As an aside, it’s pretty hilarious sanctions advocates are so deranged they think they can stop a man they say is the leader of Haiti’s most powerful gang from getting guns.]
Jimmy “Barbecue” Cherizier is a former National Police officer who was inexplicably able to form a new alliance of gangs and rapidly achieve a massive amount of influence. Some claim that he got his name from brutally burning gang members as a police officer, but he insists he was given the name as a child because his mother sold fried chicken on the streets. He left the national police force after the 2018 “La Saline Massacre,” a savage battle between the police and gangs which allegedly left 71 dead and for which he is blamed. The Washington Post, in an article with skepticism about the corruption and oppression of coronavirus policies they never would have shown in the “first world,” reports that Cherizier’s rise was aided by the increasing crime caused by lockdowns and his willingness to hold large gatherings in defiance of covid policies. They report his gang’s activities as follows, “Cherizier and members of his consolidated gang are extorting businesses, hijacking fuel trucks and kidnapping professionals and business owners for exorbitant ransoms as high as $1 million.” Further, the UN report announcing his sanctions includes this accusation: “Jimmy Cherizier (AKA ‘Barbeque’) has engaged in acts that threaten the peace, security, and stability of Haiti and has planned, directed, or committed acts that constitute serious human rights abuses.”
Barbecue, meanwhile, has spent years making himself accessible to the media, portraying himself as a community leader and revolutionary committed to saving the long suffering island from poverty. In 2021 Cherizier told Al Jazeera, “I’m not a gangster. I never will be a gangster. It’s the system I’m fighting against today. The system has a lot of money; they own the media. Now they try to make me look like a gangster.” The UN Report does seem like recycled propaganda, and as if there would be no advantage of Cherizier presenting himself the way he is if he was running the sort of organization they claim. For example, this claim seems a bit too perfect for shocking the public into accepting intervention:
“Arnaud Gustave Royer, with the U.N.'s Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, noted that one woman saw gangs execute her husband and was then raped by several armed men in front of her four children for several hours.
“Rape becomes a weapon, a tactic for gangs,” he said, adding that the acts committed are extremely violent and done in front of family members to humiliate victims.
Gangs, who control an estimated 60% of Port-au-Prince, have raped children as young as 10 and elderly women as well, according to the U.N. report.
In one case, a 12-year-old boy was raped by five individuals who just minutes before had raped his older sister during gang clashes in April, the U.N. said: “A few days later, his body was found, with a gunshot wound to the head, laying on a pile of garbage in an abandoned area.”
This is pretty standard “Monster of the Week” stuff, I’m surprised they don’t have him pulling babies out of incubators. A fascinating investigative report by Dan Cohen of Uncaptured Media argues that Cherizier is being targeted as a patsy to overcome opposition to intervention, and that he was not involved in the massacre. One gets the feeling he was chosen because he is the only person capable of solving the problems they are accusing him of causing.
“However, as this investigation, based on visits to La Saline, interviews with residents and local officials, a U.S. official, and careful examination of media and human rights reports, will show, there is no evidence of Cherizier’s involvement in a massacre in La Saline, or that a massacre even took place. The events of November 1-13, 2018 have been mischaracterized as part of a disinformation campaign emanating from the State Department and National Endowment for Democracy that has paved the way for the current push for military intervention in Haiti. The allegations of massacres provide a patina of human rights concern for aggression against the burgeoning revolutionaries of the G9, and maintenance of Haiti as a neo-colony of the U.S. empire.”
Coming from my position of skepticism, that all seems far more plausible than that the UN is telling the truth this time, but I am also an adherent of Rockwell’s Law, which states “Always believe the opposite of what a state official tells you.” Cohen alleges that Cherizier is actually an anti-crime crusader, and there is evidence of him calming down the neighborhoods under his control. He writes,
“Haiti is plagued by criminal armed groups like the 400 Mawozo and the Five Seconds Gang, all arrayed against the FRG9 in the G-Pép confederation, which is connected to powerful oligarchs with close ties to the U.S.. Haitians have taken note that, Cherizier, an anti-crime crusader, is the only figure targeted by the resolution, which claims that he “has engaged in acts that threaten the peace, security and stability of Haiti” and that the fuel blockade has “directly contributed to the economic paralysis and humanitarian crisis in Haiti.”
It makes a lot of sense that oligarchs are benefiting from crime and instability in Haiti and he is being targeted because he is in their way. Financial interests believe in nothing and always find a way to profit from instability, so if Cherizier were to succeed at stabilizing the country presumably it would end a windfall of profits for whichever bad people are benefiting. At the same time, though the investigation is clearly well researched, I’m skeptical that Cherizier would have been able to get where he is without a degree of brutality and crime to enforce his power and fund his operations. Further, there is a tendency by empire skeptics towards excessive apologism for whoever the Western power structure targets and lies about. Still, it seems clear the reason Cherizier is the only person being targeted is because they fear he will stabilize Haiti, not because he is destabilizing it.
The Usurper Needs Propping Up
Cherizier seems reasonably confident in his position, demanding cabinet posts and amnesty for people in his organization. Ariel Henry decided the situation was sufficiently dire to request foreign intervention to support his illegitimate regime. This made the country explode again, and further increased Cherizier’s popularity. The “liberal internationalists” were quick to get to work on a resolution to invade Haiti. This is described in Western media as being a situation where Haiti requested the intervention, but it is clear it is not what the public wants. Protests were widespread and specifically against the world “intervening” again. Many commentators were quick to compare the US’s casual attitude about invading the sovereign nation of Haiti to the US reaction to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Though it isn’t a very close comparison, the fact that Henry is unelected and the US and allies are propping him up is a good example of how they just do whatever they want all the time. Meanwhile, as in other countries, Russia’s popularity in Haiti is increasing as a symbol of resistance to Western imperialism, something the Western ruling class tries to avoid acknowledging.
I do think the Haitians are somewhat stupid to wave Russian flags as it will only whet the empire managers’ appetite to invade again. They will look at this as needing to counter Russian influence in Haiti. The thing is that Haiti isn’t powerful enough to do external harm to anyone, and there is no legitimate reason its alignment matters. The problem is financial interests just cannot leave this small, poor nation alone. However, this plan for intervention may be hitting an unexpected problem. They are, for now, trying to outsource it to a third party. Based on their description, I had thought they meant Mexico, a co-author of the UN Resolution, but it appears they are thinking of Canada.
Assistant Secretary of State Brian Nichols gave the following statement:
“Canada is an incredibly capable partner across a whole host of areas. Canada has incredible development skills, and has a very capable armed forces as well as a national police force. Those are important skills in the international community, and more broadly, it is a respected nation and leader on the full range of issues.”
However, Haitians have many reasons to dislike Canada. Most importantly, it has been instrumental in the world’s efforts to control the nation. Further, while Canada has a reputation as a benign and kind nation in the US, the reality is very different in the “global south.” Canada controls 41% of the world’s major mining companies and has a reputation for brutal extractivism. Besides the US and France there is probably not a “world power” [which at least in terms of the mineral industry Canada is] that has a worse reputation in Haiti. It’s difficult to say if the people who dream up these wars know or care. Honestly Mexico, which has a better reputation in the rest of the world than Americans realize, would probably have been the better choice.
For now, they are having trouble finding any nation to “step up.” It’s possible the old anti-war slogan will kind of happen, “What if they tried to throw a war and no one came?” But, I would not bet against the war party finding some way to make this happen, and anyhow, they’ve sort of invaded Haiti already:
Conclusion: “If Our Country Were Ever Given a Chance…”
The fact is that if there was a foreign military solution to Haiti’s problems they would have been solved a long time ago. However, the imperialist West cannot abide by any country falling out of orbit and retain the fallacious notion that they remain the guarantors of the world’s security, when in fact they are a persistently destabilizing force. The “incompetent/evil” matrix is one of the most difficult things to read in politics and this is no different, but its quite clear financial interests want a weak and unstable Haiti and can’t resist profiting off of this poor nation of 11 million. However, there are some appropriate non-military things which could be done. For example, there is a global role in dealing with Haitian refugees, and they should find a solution more compassionate than sending them to Gitmo. There is also a role for charities to relieve human suffering, but as painful and tragic as the suffering of the Haitian people is the only solution is to let them find a solution in their own way and seek to prevent Western financial interests from exploiting their misery.
In 2007 the Haitian-American author Edwidge Danticat published an incredible and heartbreaking memoir called Brother, I’m Dying. It tells the story of her father who immigrated to America and her uncle who stayed in Haiti. During the 2004 intervention her uncle, a minister, is targeted by gangs because he is perceived to have sided with the UN, who used his church without permission. Upon entering America he tells the truth about being a refugee at the airport, despite having a tourist visa for a planned church tour, and is put into an immigrant detention center where he dies after being refused his traditional medicine which they dismiss as superstition. His body cannot be returned to Haiti as the gangs still planned to decapitate his corpse, something of great significance to Haitians. She writes,
“Did he think it ironic he would soon be the dead prisoner of the same government that had been occupying his country when he was born? In essence he was entering and exiting the world under the same flag. Never really sovereign as his father had dreamed, never really free. What would he think of being buried here? Would he forever, proverbially, turn in his grave?”
On the day her father buried his brother, he said, “He shouldn’t be here, if our country were ever given a chance and allowed to be a country like any other, none of us would live or die here.”
Indeed, Haiti’s entire history since independence has been one of victimization at the hands of more powerful nations, at the cost of enormous suffering by the Haitian people. The only solution is to, for once, respect Haiti’s sovereignty and finally give them a chance, more than two centuries late.
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