Taken together, these actions completely dismantled the protective edifice erected by three previous U.S. presidents
The June 14 editorial “Haiti’s ‘descent into hell’ ” was right to decry the fecklessness of the current Haitian president, but it missed the poor decision-making by the United States and the other powerful countries involved.
Decades ago, U.S. policymakers developed a healthy respect for the utility of having an elected Haitian president to counter claims for political asylum. Twenty thousand U.S. troops went in, and the head of a major bank vowed, “We’re going to break the rules for Haiti!” But about five years ago, historical amnesia set in. U.S. policymakers forgot how hard you have to work just to have an elected president in Haiti. They pulled out the potent U.N. mission that had made sure that four presidents finished their terms. Before its arrival, five of the previous seven had been overthrown. Then Venezuela cut off the PetroCaribe lifeline. With oil no longer subsidized, the International Monetary Fund demanded a 50 percent price increase. It got for its pains an “IMF riot,” which has continued with little interruption ever since.
Then the Trump administration threatened to send home 60,000 Haitians on temporary status, cutting off their remittances. Finally, that administration bludgeoned Haiti into betraying Venezuela, a deep blow to the country’s pride. Taken together, these actions completely dismantled the protective edifice erected by three previous U.S. presidents. Even a far more qualified incumbent would have been defeated by these forfeitures.
James Morrell, Washington
The writer is executive director of the Haiti Democracy Project.