Tomorrow, July 6, will be the second anniversary of a heinous crime committed by the UN against the poor citizens of one of Port-au-Prince’s most devastated neighborhoods, Cite Soleil. It is this kind of crime that makes the removal of the UN occupation of Haiti paramount. Below is an article I wrote about this attack:
July 6, 2005: Haiti, the Gaza Strip of the Caribbean
by Shirley Pate
“Two helicopters flew overhead. At 4:30 a.m., UN forces launched the offensive, shooting into houses, shacks, a church and a school with machine guns, tank fire and tear gas. Eyewitnesses reported that when people fled to escape the tear gas, UN troops gunned them down from the back.” – from a report by a San Francisco-based labor/human rights delegation that was in Haiti on Wednesday, July 6, when UN forces committed a massacre against the residents of the neighborhood of Cité Soleil
Back in April, I wrote an article* warning the head of the UN “peacekeeping” effort in Haiti, Brazilian Gen. Augusto Heleno Ribeiro, that if he continued to implement the UN Security Council’s unwritten mandate to insure a Haitian elite victory in the upcoming elections by killing as many Aristide supporters as possible, there would not be enough soap and water to wash the blood off his hands. It looks like General Heleno may have figured this out for himself – last month, he declared his intention to resign his post.
Yet, it appears he was still in command in the wee hours of the morning of July 6, when 300-400 UN troops attacked Cité Soleil, one of the poorest neighborhoods in Port-au-Prince, and slaughtered close to 50 residents and wounded many more. It was a bloodletting worthy of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), and, on that day, Haiti moved a step closer to becoming the Gaza Strip of the Caribbean. It was a bloodletting that, if there is any justice left in the world, will land Gen. Heleno before an international tribunal.
On Feb. 29, 2004, the lives of most Haitians turned decidedly worse when a U.S.-inspired coup d’état deprived them of their democratically elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The coup was masterminded and supervised by a colonial cabal consisting of the U.S., France and Canada, supported by military forces that slipped into Haiti days before. From that moment on, Haiti was under occupation.
Shortly thereafter, the cabal formed a multi-lateral force that reigned for three months. Knowing that the political stakes were too high to remain the sole supplier of the military muscle in Haiti, the cabal cleverly engineered a UN “peacekeeping” operation that has, by all standards, mutated into an occupying IDF-like assault force.
It is proving extremely difficult for Haiti solidarity activists, who are working to stop this carnage, to convince the public that a UN peacekeeping effort could be capable of such heinous crimes. Most think of UN peacekeeping missions as non-belligerent, neutral operations that are deployed to separate warring factions in order to reach a peaceful settlement to conflict.
And this is the genius of the cabal’s decision to bring the UN to Haiti. It is vital for the public to understand that, in Haiti, the UN is the primary warring faction, a proxy for the cabal and nothing about their mission is neutral. The permanent members of the UN Security Council dictate the nature and scope of UN peacekeeping operations.
As the more dominant of the permanent members, the U.S. and France are masters at designing peacekeeping operations to serve their own foreign policy interests. As a result, peacekeeping missions are more insidious and deadly than most people are aware.
In 1961, the first prime minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Patrice Lumumba, was betrayed by UN peacekeepers when they failed to maintain neutrality in the conflict between the central government and Lumumba’s Western-supported opponents. Lumumba was subsequently kidnapped and murdered, leaving the Congolese, for the next 32 years, in the vicious grip of Sese Seko Mobutu, the U.S.’ main man in Africa.
In Bosnia, thousands of Muslims sought safe haven with Dutch-led UN peacekeepers. The peacekeepers yielded to Bosnian Serbs, who kidnapped the Muslims and killed them.
The purposeful impotency of the UN peacekeeping mandate in Rwanda resulted in an indescribable genocide that has soiled forever the legacy of UN peacekeeping. Yet, amid the presumed “failures” of each of these UN peacekeeping efforts, one can be assured that the interests of the permanent members of the UN Security Council were well served regardless.
Throughout their occupation of Haiti, UN forces have maintained that the primary objective is to bring peace to Haiti so that elections can be held in the fall. The problem is that a lot of lousy things are done in the name of “peace.” Not unlike the lousy things that are done in the name of “democracy.”
The same tactics used by the IDF to kill, maim and wreck the lives of Palestinians were employed by UN forces against Haitians in Cité Soleil on July 6: aerial attacks with gunfire aimed into densely populated residential areas, use of massive numbers of troops, destruction of homes by firebombs and grenades, indiscriminant tank fire into alley ways and homes and not so indiscriminant assassination of residents as they were shot in the back trying to flee the horror.
When the UN forces first arrived in Haiti, their activities consisted largely of securing the perimeter of poor neighborhoods for the Haitian National Police while they conducted raids that, more often than not, ended in summary executions of residents. But it was not long before UN forces began joint operations with the HNP and then graduated to doing raids on their own.
This is all to say that the UN’s deadly assaults on poor and largely Aristide-supporting neighborhoods are not new. Yet the UN raid on July 6 was in another category altogether. The arrogance, massive nature and sheer audacity of the operation signaled that, for UN forces, killing Haitians had become sport.
Khan Younis is one of the most god-forsaken refugee camps in the Gaza Strip. In the late afternoon when the children are out to play, the Israeli soldiers taunt them, through a loud speaker, with disgusting sexual innuendo about their mothers. The children, incensed, climb the highest hill, perch themselves atop like sitting ducks at the carnival, and engage in their own mini intifada of rocks. The Israelis, having lured the children to the designated target area, play a game of maiming them by calling out the body part they are aiming at before they shoot – sort of like calling out your shot in billiards. Sometimes, a head shot is called for and the kids are executed on the spot.
Much of the cabal’s genius lies in the make-up of the UN forces in Haiti – largely Latin American.** It serves to tie Latin America and the Caribbean together in a tight knot. Brown brother helping Black brother. Yet, the unifying theme belies a cruel reality.
Brazil’s populist-seeming president, its overwhelmingly multiracial society and desperate ambition to win a permanent seat on the UN Security Council made it the perfect choice to lead the UN “peacekeeping” effort in Haiti. Yet, this is a country that has over 30 different descriptions used by Brazilians to differentiate themselves from one another based on skin color. This is a country, where an Afro-Brazilian, after attaining a certain level of success, might start referring to himself as white. Racism in Latin America is pervasive and is directed at both Indians and African descendants of slaves. It is based on the concept of “the crabs at the bottom of the barrel.” Being close to the bottom of the barrel, the crab wrestles viciously to stay on top of the crab just below lest he slip and fall to the bottom himself. This social structure was created and perpetuated by colonial powers in Latin America because they knew they had everything to lose if black, brown, and red ever got together. Like most conflicts of imperial intent, manipulating racial tensions is key to ensuring that people of color stay engaged in the dirty business of fighting one another. Belief in the inherent inferiority of those whose land you occupy is an essential element of occupation.
Haiti is Gaza and Gaza is Haiti because occupation always yields the same things: relentless provocations of the population, murder on a massive scale, oppression, persecution, incarceration, disenfranchisement, joblessness, homelessness, starvation and resistance.
It’s a wicked, purposeful merry-go-round of peace through provocation – profess peace, provoke the occupied until they resist, label the resistance a criminal car stealing, kidnapping , gang mongering, raping, murdering “threat to peace” and then it’s an open season for the occupier. This method has worked quite well for the IDF.
Just like the meaningless UN resolutions demanding an end to the slaughter in Palestine, it is doubtful that we will see any sanctions against the cabal or Gen. Heleno for their crimes against humanity. No doubt the UN will proceed to issue its cheerful press releases re-emphasizing its commitment to peace and democracy in preparation for the fall elections, and the incursions into the popular neighborhoods for a night of sport will continue.
But this will not go on forever. When and how will it stop? The UN would do well to check out the Haitian history books for answers to these questions. There, they might learn that they are occupying the land of the sons and daughters of Dessalines. If the UN is unable to grasp the significance of this, they should seek clarification from the French.
** Where do the Jordanian forces fit into all of this? With chilling regularity, in assault after assault, the Jordanians are the primary shooters for the UN forces in Haiti and have committed some of the most heinous crimes. It could be that they are used as the trigger men time and time again because they are the best marksmen. Yet the cabal leaves very little to fate. They know that one day they may end up in a tight spot and need to make a sacrifice – the Jordanians may be their scapegoat-designates.
Shirley Pate is a Haiti solidarity activist in Washington, D.C. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.