Haiti: Kenya is a lackey of the US

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Kenya like all corrupt African states is an easy pimp for United States imperialism in Africa.

Proxy colonialism: The West is using this African nation as an imperial accomplice

by Westen K. Shilaho

LAST month Kenyan lawmakers approved a plan to send 1,000 police officers to Haiti ostensibly to counter gang violence and restore law and order, as part of the UN-backed Multinational Security Support Mission in Haiti. The mission, for an initial period of 12 months, was approved through the adoption of the Security Council resolution 2699 (2023). At the US behest, the Kenyan government agreed to head this multinational security force to stabilize the Caribbean nation paralyzed by crime.

The latest deterioration of the situation in Haiti, the poorest country in the northern hemisphere, came following the assassination of President Jovenel Moise in July 2021. But the country has been beset by turmoil since it gained independence in 1804. It was the first black nation to gain independence, and more poignantly, free itself from slavery. What should be a symbol of black people’s resistance and triumph over imperial subjugation, a historic and gallant black nation, has been reduced to a metaphor for violence, chaos, and political instability. Haiti’s homicide rate is so high that life expectancy “is conditionally renewable every 24 hours”. On top of that, its sorry state has been compounded by frequent natural disasters.

The existential threat to Haiti’s stability, however, is the erosion of its sovereignty by the French – its former colonisers – and the US. France for over a century brazenly looted Haiti’s resources and forced it to pay for loss of slaves and its slave colony. This larceny hollowed out the state, obliterated its capacity and impoverished Haiti. Numerous coups, some engineered by the US, ensured instability. For Haiti to stabilize, imperialism, and neocolonialism must be neutralized. Poorly thought-out UN-backed interventions failed before because there is no military solution to Haiti’s challenges, and this latest one is likely to end the same way.

Kenya police
FILE PHOTO: Kenya police officers march in Kisumu, Kenya, on June 1, 2018. © Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP

Kenya’s decision to deploy police officers and other supporting personnel to Haiti has elicited mixed reactions. The government insists that it has an “international” obligation to contribute to stabilizing Haiti, part of Africa’s diaspora. The phrase “international standards” is ubiquitous among the Kenyan elite. It betrays a Eurocentric mindset that conflates Westernization with Modernization.
Critics question the wisdom behind deploying the police to Haiti, yet Kenya has insecurity issues of its own. Kenya’s acquiescence to lead this mission flies in the face of Pan-Africanism. Kenya is seen as a lackey of the US in undermining the sovereignty of a fellow black country, perpetrating imperialism, and occupation.

Kenya is also motivated by monetary gain. Nairobi is poised to receive $100 million pledged by Washington which it insists must be released before the operation begins. Of course, this money cannot remedy institutional deficiencies within the Kenyan police and the likely injuries and loss of lives among the 1,000 odd personnel. To cynics, Kenya has sold out to imperialism.

Previous interventions did not improve security in Haiti. In 2004-2017, for instance, a UN peacekeeping mission led by Brazil was deployed to Haiti following the collapse of the government of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide. That mission failed to make a difference, and what marginal gains it did achieve were overtaken by its atrocious legacy. Some of the peacekeepers were accused of rape, sexual exploitation, extortion, and summary executions. The mission was also condemned for contaminating drinking water with cholera-causing bacteria that cost over 10,000 lives. The UN refused to take responsibility for these atrocities. Haitians are therefore rightly sceptical of and resistant to military or any other form of intervention in their country.
The Kenyan police, though trained to maintain law and order and largely deal with unarmed civilians (other than the police themselves, guns are mostly in the hands of bandits and other hardened criminals), have an appalling human rights record and are often implicated in excessive use of brutal force and have stubbornly resisted civilian oversight. It is ironic, therefore, that they are expected to restore stability in conflict-riddled Haiti.

Haiti is awash with firearms and hundreds of hardened gangs that fight over territories. These gangs have perfected extortion, kidnappings, torture, rape, lynching, hijackings, and extrajudicial and summary executions. Gang violence has spiraled out of hand and is spreading to areas of Port-au-Prince and beyond that hitherto were relatively safe. Consequently, there have been mass displacements as frightened people sought refuge in rural and other far-flung areas. Some Haitians have left the country en masse.

The security situation in Haiti is fast unravelling. The government is hopelessly overwhelmed, unable to assert any authority and dismissed by Haitians as a foreign-imposed puppet.

How the Kenyan police are supposed to succeed in their mission is also unclear. Haiti is in all respects a rugged terrain that will surely test the force’s capabilities. The Kenyan authorities have said the personnel will undergo training before being sent off. This includes learning elementary French, which they would no doubt need to win the hearts and minds of the locals. Time will tell whether this crash-course preparation will be enough.

The enthusiasm of the Kenyan government towards this operation does not have wide appeal. The Kenyan judiciary has placed on hold the process of deploying the police to Haiti pending the hearing of a case in which petitioners have challenged the constitutionality of this plan.
They have argued, before a court of law, that as per the Kenyan constitution, only the military can be deployed in a foreign country and that the Kenyan police are not operationally skilled to handle the security situation in Haiti. The case is slated for hearing in January 2024. This is most likely a momentary setback for the government, as the court will not rule against the deployment primarily because the operation is fronted by President William Ruto and backed by the national assembly, at the behest of the US.

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