PORT-AU-PRINCE – The turbulent past of foreign military interventions has made many Haitians nervous or hostile to calls by US and foreign forces in the wake of President Jovenal Moise’s assassination last week.
Acting Prime Minister Claude Joseph has requested that troops be sent to both the United States and the United Nations, which are considering the requests as the Caribbean nation plunged into turmoil after Moyes’ assassination.
Joseph proposed the idea as a way to protect infrastructures such as the airport and the main seaport in the capital. But the idea was met with resistance from opposition groups, as well as from retired soldiers and people on the street.
“We don’t want other countries to impose a government on us.”Jose Maslin, 55, who makes a living repairing televisions and radios, said standing under a flyover on a highway in the Delmas neighborhood in the capital’s west.
The Haitian Military Association, which represents retired officers, called on Haitian society on Tuesday to avoid the “humiliation” of foreign interference.
The association strongly criticized what it described as a lack of “national” planning by the current government, which it accused of having chosen to “rush to facilitate the request to intervene in the national territory,” according to a statement.
Another group, representing civil society, called for an “orderly Haitian” solution to the country’s crisis.
The mistrust points to a long history of foreign military influence in Haiti, including a 20-year US occupation in 1915, and the latest UN and US troop deployments in the wake of political turmoil and natural disasters.
On Monday, the White House said it had not ruled out the possibility of sending troops, but US officials said the Pentagon did not see a need to deploy them.
Washington sent a small group of less than a dozen soldiers to reinforce security at the US Embassy in Port-au-Prince after the attack.
The involvement of the international community threatens to exacerbate the fragile situation in Haiti, said Jake Johnston of the US-based Center for Economics and Policy Research (CEPR).
“For too long, foreign actors have tried to impose solutions from the outside,” Johnston said. “These interventions bear an important responsibility in the current situation in Haiti and in the long-term weakening of democracy in Haiti.”
“Foreign intervention is not the answer, the solution is a more responsible system of government, but also greater economic opportunities and a better economy,” said Alex Dupuy, a Haitian sociologist at Wesleyan University in Connecticut.
The capital’s streets were calm on Tuesday despite calls for a protest by a gang leader. Gangs continue to control parts of the city, including the main fuel supply routes.
Tires were burned at makeshift checkpoints, including in front of the Justice Department, where prosecutors interviewed witnesses to Moyes’ killing or others with information about the plot, including prominent opposition figures.
Hoping to sell colorful clothes scattered on a plastic canvas on a crowded street corner, Judith Folsey, 39, said foreign forces would not be able to solve Haiti’s deeper problems.
“Look, Haiti’s economy is in a terrible state. Everything is very expensive. A lot of people go to the countryside, or those who have money, they go to other countries,” he said.