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The United Nations Security Council is considering an international intervention in Haiti to open up aid corridors and resolve what the UN Secretary-General calls “an absolutely terrifying situation”.
Armed gangs have blocked off the main fuel station in the capital since last month and cut off access to aid routes. The country has been gripped by weeks of unrest, with many taking to the streets protesting high fuel and food prices, demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Ariel Henry. Almost half of the population facing acute famine. And now the country faces a cholera outbreak.
In response to this spiraling crisis, Henry ask the international community to intervene with a “special armed force.” But this request was met with horror by many in Haiti, who more than familiar with checkered history of foreign intervention and occupation.
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The United States and Mexico have drafted two Security Council resolutions that are currently under consideration. One would impose sanctions on armed gangs in Haiti and their supporters. Another proposal proposes “a limited, carefully scoped, non-UN mission led by a partner country with the necessary, in-depth experience necessary for such an effort to be effective.” ,” US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said at a Security Council briefing on Monday.
“If there is ever a time to support Haitians in need, it is now,” she said.
Thomas-Greenfield said the US is looking at how to support such a mission. Personally, administration officials are cautious about U.S. efforts on the ground and say diplomats who are talking to countries in the region could take the lead in a limited operation. . So far, a number of officials included in Bahamas and Guyana is said to have voiced support for this proposal.
Diplomats said they expect a vote this week on the sanctions resolution, but it will take longer to draw up plans for a possible armed intervention.
Last weekend, USA and Canada send device including armored vehicles to help the Haitian police fight a powerful gang.
But the prospect of sending a new foreign military force to Haiti worries those familiar with the failures of past interventions there.
“You could have an army force come and knock down barricades and kill some gang members,” says writer Jonathan M. Katz, who Written about Haiti.
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But he said this would not solve the central problem of the country, “that Haiti doesn’t currently have a working democracy. It doesn’t have a representative government.”
Katz, author of The Big Truck Has Passed By: How The World Came To Save Haiti And Leave A Disaster, criticize the United States in favor of a “democratic void“in Haiti since President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated in July 2021 and did not support the plan to restore democracy put forward by a broad Haitian group called the Montana group.
UN wants a Haitian-led solution but also foreign armed action
The head of the United Nations Office in Haiti Helen La Lime said she supported a political solution led by Haiti. But so far, she said, that has been “elusive and by itself no longer sufficient to address the current crisis.”
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has called for “armed action” to free the port and create a humanitarian corridor.
However, the UN will not lead with its record in Haiti. United Nations peacekeeping force carry cholera arrived on the island more than a decade ago, causing an outbreak that killed thousands.
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Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield said that the UN Security Council should consider its role differently than before. “Just to be clear, we are acutely aware of the history of international intervention in Haiti and are especially concerned about the council authorizing a response that could lead to a peacekeeping role,” she said.
Many in the US are also wary of Washington’s history of occupation and intervention in the Caribbean nation. In 1915, the United States invaded Haiti and occupied it for almost two decades, ostensibly an attempt to restore order. But it left chaos.
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Then, during Operation “Keeping Democracy” in 1994, President Bill Clinton sent more than 20,000 troops to restore power to ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide following the 1991 military coup.
Robert Fatton, a professor of government and foreign affairs at the University of Virginia, says Haitians are well aware of the poor record of foreign intervention activities and are not enthusiastic about them.
“On the other hand, the situation is very critical,” he said. An international force could help establish some order. But he added, “the big question is what happens after that.”