Diaspora

Commentary: Why Ukraine, but not Haiti? – Sonoma Index-Tribune

In mid-February, anticipating Russia’s threat to invade Ukraine, President Joe Biden emphasized that the U.S. insists on basic principles: “Nations have a right to sovereignty and territorial integrity. They have the freedom to set their own course and choose with whom they will associate. … to choose their own destiny, and the right of people to determine their own futures.”
Secretary of State Anthony Blinken then pointed out that, for Russia, “There is a difference in what they say and what they do!”
Sadly and hypocritically, this is also true for the United States.
Yes, we say and tell ourselves that the United States is the “free world” champion of national sovereignty and democracy. But, in fact, what the U.S. does over and over in nations such as Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Haiti is to intervene, sanction, and sabotage the “sovereign right of people to determine their own futures.”
This is now the 18th year of continued US neocolonial intervention and occupation of Haiti after the U.S.-led 2004 coup that overthrew Haiti’s democratic government. Since then, the U.S. government has backed a series of corrupt and brutal regimes which have brought Haiti nothing but misery, violence and chaos.
Following the assassination of President Jovenel Moise last July, popular organizations across Haiti are calling for the end of the U.S.-backed regime and the installation of a transitional government. Yet the Biden Administration continues to insist on its choice of prime minister, Ariel Henry, who has no mandate and no legitimacy.
While it continues to thwart freedom and the right of Haitians to determine their own future, the Biden Administration has deported more than 20,000 Haitian refugees, in one of the speediest mass deportations in U.S. history. Having fled from conditions produced by US policy in Haiti, they are now being sent back into the U.S.-created nightmare they fled. U.S. Special Envoy for Haiti, Daniel Foote, resigned last September to protest this inhumane deportation policy.
Of course, we rightly should protest Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But we should also demand that the Biden Administration “walk its talk” for respecting national sovereignty right here in neighboring Latin America, starting with Haiti.
So, if we say Black lives truly matter, and the U.S. government says it truly supports that all “nations have a right to sovereignty and to determine their own futures,” then what we need to actually do is to stand in solidarity with the democratic movement in Haiti and end the U.S. deportations of Haitian refugees.
John Donnelly is a resident of Sonoma.
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