The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Chaos, the Other Side of Capitalism!

Mar 25, 2024

Chaos, terror, “humanitarian” disaster, repeated assaults, massacre, state of emergency, airlifts, humanitarian corridor—all terms referring to a country “in a state of war” and which appear in the headlines of the international press to illustrate the situation, not in Ukraine or Russia or Palestine, but in Haiti. What these journalists and reporters describe reflects reality to some extent, but none of them has dared to point out the heavy responsibility of Western powers such as the United States and France in this chaotic situation.

Ariel Henry Gone, But the Gang Attacks Continue

In fact, since February 29, the main gangs in the metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital, have banded together to launch assaults with a view to overthrowing the government of Ariel Henry, according to their spokesman, Jimmy Chérisier, alias Barbecue, a gang leader with a high profile in the national and international media.

A few days later, they got the better of the Prime Minister, hated by the population and dropped by his White House bosses, who were just waiting for an opportunity to remove him. But the coalition of gangs, armed with heavy weapons from the United States and reinforced by hundreds of prison escapees, continues to put the capital on fire and in blood. Every day, dozens are killed, hundreds are wounded and tens of thousands of local residents flee their neighborhoods. The unlivable capital is increasingly becoming an open-air cemetery and a field of ruins. Virtually all activity has ground to a halt, except for the killing, terrorizing and kidnapping machine, which is running at full speed. Allied gangs control almost the entire metropolitan area, creating terror on a daily basis. Living conditions for the laboring classes, already very precarious, are worsening by the day as a result of this unprecedented upsurge in violence and escalating gang dictatorship.

Who Is Responsible for the Chaos?

But contrary to what these journalists, lackeys of the bourgeoisie, would have us believe, this untenable situation is neither a misfortune specific to Haiti nor an historical inevitability. Rather, it’s the other side of capitalism, which generates immense wealth on the one hand, and extreme poverty on the other. And gangs are nothing more than the products of unemployment and misery, which make some desperate people very quick to obey those who hand them weapons and supply them with ammunition.

While the majority of the population is dying of hunger and disease, wealthy Haitian families are fleeing the country to the Dominican Republic in helicopters costing up to 15,000 U.S. dollars for a ticket for a flight of less than half an hour. On an international scale, capitalism generates a billionaire every day, while a child dies every five seconds from malnutrition.

The chaos in Haiti is the result of centuries of plundering of the country’s wealth and shameless exploitation of its people by Western powers such as France and the United States. The history of Haiti and the Caribbean is closely linked to that of capitalism. In the 16th century, the plundering of this region, and indeed of Latin America, played a fundamental role in the accumulation of capital that enabled the development of capitalism in Europe.

Haiti Looted by France and the United States

France itself was not content to extort wealth from Haiti through slavery for some two centuries. Its rulers imposed a fine of 150 million gold francs as compensation for the former slave owners, in exchange for recognizing Haiti’s independence, which had been won at a bloody cost by the revolutionary slave army in 1803. It was also a gift to the French national bank, which provided the loan to finance the repayment, which put Haiti in debt for decades. The New York Times revealed that this double debt has cost Haiti between $21 and $115 billion in lost economic growth over time.

After France, it was the turn of the United States, whose marines landed in Haiti on July 28, 1915, on the pretext of coming to the rescue of the then president. They crushed a popular uprising and stayed until 1934. Before the occupation, on December 17, 1914, marines from the warship Machias broke into the National Bank of Haiti and seized $500,000, the equivalent of the bank’s gold reserve.

During the occupation, American officers took control of customs, finance and so on. American companies like the Haitian American Sugar Company (HASCO) took advantage of the situation to get their hands on the best land, stripping thousands of peasants of their means of survival. By virtue of their geographical location, Haiti and the Caribbean countries had the painful privilege of being in the immediate vicinity of the USA, which went on to become the dominant nation in the capitalist world. As the Haitian intellectual Dantès Bellegarde put it: “God is too far, and the United States is too close.” The United States refused to recognize Haiti as an independent nation for 60 years and has maintained its stranglehold on political power to this day. It’s the White House that makes and breaks presidents, all of them extras, hacks who can’t make any major decisions of their own.

An Explosion of Anger Is Inevitable

These are the mechanisms used by the Western powers to carve up Haiti, impoverish it, strangle it economically and push it further and further into underdevelopment and total destitution, to the point where every storm and earthquake of varying magnitude turns into a social catastrophe. To achieve this, they naturally rely on the complicity of local economic and political leaders.

So why is Haiti the poorest country in the region, despite its geographical proximity to the richest country on the planet, the United States? This is the hallmark of an entire economic system and social organization. Haiti is a country in front of which capitalism blocks any future, any hope even. And it will continue until the accumulation of despair explodes in anger like the slave revolt of 1803.