Intellectuals and members of Haiti’s civil society quickly criticized a call by Haitian officials for the United States to send in troops, citing earlier interventions by foreign powers and international organizations that further destabilized Haiti and left a trail of abuses.
“We do not want any U.S. troops on Haiti’s soil,” Monique Clesca, a Haitian pro-democracy activist and former United Nations official, said in a post Friday on Twitter. “The de facto prime minister Claude Joseph does not have any legitimacy to make such a request in our name. No, No & No.”
Many in Haiti had argued that President Jovenel Moïse was no longer legitimately in office at the time of his assassination this week. Mr. Joseph, who said that he was in charge after the killing of Mr. Moïse, has also faced widespread criticism after taking over the country on Tuesday.
Yet, despite the sudden uncertainty brought by Mr. Moïse’s assassination, some residents and intellectuals argue the many questions raised by his killing give them a long-awaited opportunity to reform Haiti’s institutions.
“We never have a chance to figure out the rules of the game ourselves,” said Melodie Cerin, a resident of Port-au-Prince and the co-editor of Woy Magazine’s, an online publication. “That’s what’s most frustrating to Haitians. We’re put aside each time we’re trying step up.”
A senior Biden administration official said on Friday that there were no plans to provide U.S. military assistance at the moment — and regardless, Haitians have argued that they need to find a solution to the country’s instability on their own.
Operations by outside powers like the United States, and by international organizations like the United Nations, have often added to the instability, they say.
“The solution to the crisis must be Haitian,” said André Michel, a human rights lawyer and opposition leader, calling for a broader institutional debate that would gather politicians, Haiti’s civil society and its diaspora.
Many have also argued that a foreign intervention would simply not work.
“It’s like coming back with a toolbox, but the box has the wrong tools in it,” Ms. Clesca said in a telephone interview. “What needs to be in the toolbox are voices from Haiti.”
Some criticism has focused on the contested legacy of a U.N. peacekeeping mission that intervened in Haiti from 2004 to 2017. Peacekeepers brought cholera to the country, and numerous instances of rape and sexual abuse, including of girls as young as 11, have been documented.
“This is outrageous,” Marlène Daut, a professor of American and African diaspora studies at the University of Virginia, said this week in response to a Washington Post editorial that called for a new international peacekeeping force in Haiti. The editorial described the previous U.N. peacekeeping mission as having brought “a modicum of stability.”
Ms. Clesca said the United Nations now had a disastrous reputation in Haiti. “One needs to be coherent, the United Nations’s nickname is ‘cholera’ or ‘Minustah babies,’” Ms. Clesca said, a reference to the French acronym for the peacekeeping operation in Haiti.
For others, their opposition has been rooted in the way in which the killing of Mr. Moïse have echoed events of the past. “The last U.S. occupation was preceded by the assassination of another Haitian president, under the guise of wanting to restore order, similar to what is happening now,” Woy Magazine wrote in a newsletter this week, alluding to the 1915 assassination of Jean Vilbrun Guillaume Sam. The United States then occupied Haiti until 1934.
“What followed,” Woy Magazine’s Valérie Jean-Charles wrote, “was years of weakening of Haitian institutions and the senseless killings of many Haitians.”