Under Guise of Troop Withdrawal Discussions: Is Chile Pressuring Haiti to Join OAS Coup Efforts Against Venezuela?

by Kim Ives (Haiti Liberte)

President Michelle Bachelet visited Haiti this week ostensibly to discuss with
Haitian President Jovenel Moïse the future of United Nations troops in Haiti.
Since the deployment of the UN Mission to Stabilize Haiti (MINUSTAH) in June
2004, over 12,000 Chilean troops have been deployed in Haiti, Bachelet said.
Today, Chile has 392 soldiers and 41 police in Haiti, the second largest
contingent after Brazil’s 981 soldiers.

            On Apr. 15, the UN Security Council
is likely to renew MINUSTAH’s mandate for a final six-month period, as
recommended by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in a Mar. 16 report. Guterres proposed to the Council
“a staggered but complete withdrawal” of the 2,370 UN soldiers remaining in
Haiti to be replaced by a new mission of 295 UN police officers which would
“support political stability, [and] good governance, including electoral
oversight and reform.” There are now about 844 UN police officers in Haiti,
bringing the current MINUSTAH armed force to over 3,200.

            In short, after MINUSTAH’s Oct. 15
end, a reduced, renamed mission would remain, on behalf of the U.S., Canada,
and France primarily, to “monitor and exercise an early warning function”
against any anti-imperialist political developments in Haiti (of course,
Guterres used the euphemism “for conflict prevention, human rights and rule of
law issues”).

            However, the day after Bachelet met
with Moïse on Mar. 27, the Organization of American States (OAS) convened an
extraordinary session at its Washington, DC headquarters on whether to sanction
Venezuela for what OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro says is Venezuela’s
“violation of every article in the Inter-American Democratic Charter.” In a Mar. 14 report, Almagro stepped up his years-long
campaign to invoke the OAS’s sovereignty-smashing “Democratic Charter” to expel Venezuela from the
body, as happened to Cuba after its 1959 revolution.

            “Almagro is a liar, dishonest,
evildoer, and mercenary,” said Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodríguez
during a Mar. 27 visit to the OAS, where she attempted to stop the next day’s
extraordinary session. “Almagro is not acting alone. He is a conduit for
the orders that are dictated to him by Washington.”

            In its campaign against Venezuela,
Washington has enlisted the support of 13 other nations to issue a Mar. 23 declaration calling on President Nicolas
Maduro’s government to release political prisoners, bow to the
opposition-controlled National Assembly’s decisions, and set an electoral
calendar, or be sanctioned. The
signatories are Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala,
Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay… and Chile.

            The U.S. needs two thirds – or 24 – of the OAS’s 35 member nations
to invoke the “Democratic Charter.”

            Most of the Caribbean member states
have refused to take part in the OAS’s flagrant meddling in Venezuela’s
internal affairs. In addition to solidarity and principle, they may also be
motivated by self-interest, because Venezuela provides 12 of the 15 Caricom
nations with cheap oil and other assistance through its PetroCaribe program.
Under this accord, Haiti, for example, has to only pay 60% of its monthly petroleum bill up front.
The remaining 40% goes into a PetroCaribe account which can be used for social
welfare projects. It is repayable at 1% interest over 25 years.

            Nonetheless, four Caribbean nations
– Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, and Saint Lucia – along with Belize and Guyana
supported putting Almagro’s Venezuela report on the Mar. 28 extraordinary
session’s agenda. This suggests that Washington may have 20 votes, only four
short of what they need to expel Venezuela.

            Meanwhile, also on Mar. 27,
right-wing U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio threatened
the Dominican Republic, El Salvador and Haiti with an aid cut-off if they did
not join Washington’s campaign to overthrow the Venezuelan government.

            “This is not a threat, but it
is the reality,” said Rubio, one of the U.S. Congress’s most aggressive
opponents of the Venezuelan revolution. “We have a very difficult
situation in Washington, where massive cuts in foreign aid are under consideration,
and it will be very difficult for us to justify assistance to those countries
if they, at the end of the day, are countries that do not cooperate in the
defense of democracy in the region.”

            Despite Rubio’s bluster, Haiti voted
against putting the situation in Venezuela on the Mar. 28 extraordinary
session’s agenda, along with 14 other nations. Cuba still remains excluded from
the OAS and says it will not consider joining the body out of solidarity with

            The OAS should be considering
ejecting the U.S., not Venezuela, Canadian journalist Joe Emersberger argued in
a Mar. 28 Telesur op-ed. “Long before Trump, the
case for kicking the United States out of the OAS because of its aggression
against other states in the region was overwhelming,” he wrote. “Set aside the
hundreds of thousands of people who were murdered during the 20th century
because of the U.S. government’s savage opposition to progressive reform in
Latin America. Restrict yourself to considering the U.S. government’s record in
the 21st century alone… Venezuela (2002), Haiti (2004), Honduras (2009),
Paraguay (2012), and Brazil (2016). Four were successful.”

            Of those coups d’état, “the 2004
coup in Haiti is by far the worst act of aggression by the U.S. against a
member state of the OAS in the 21st century,” Emersberger writes. “U.S. troops
kidnapped the elected president, Jean Bertrand Aristide, in the early hours of
the morning on Feb. 29, 2004, and flew him off to the Central African Republic.
Canadian troops secured the airport while it happened. For two years, under the
dictatorship of Gerard Latortue, thousands of Aristide’s supporters were
murdered. Jeb Sprague and Peter Hallward, who provided two of the most
thorough accounts of the period, explained how the OAS discredited free and
fair elections in 2000 which provided the pretext for U.S.-led economic
sanctions that helped set the stage for the coup.”

            In short, “OAS bureaucrats reliably
serve the Imperial Rogue State,” Emersberger concludes. “There was, for
example, never any threat of suspending Haiti from the OAS when it was under
dictatorial rule from 2004 to 2006.”

            Despite its participation in
MINUSTAH, Bachelet’s Chile has generally been viewed as allied with the
progressive governments of Bolivia, Ecuador, and Venezuela. However, today her
government is giving its support to the U.S. and Almagro campaign against
Nicolas Maduro’s government.

            After hours of often heated debate,
the Mar. 28 OAS meeting ended with no consensus to censure Venezuela. The
Bolivarian Republic’s Deputy Foreign Minister Samuel Moncada began the session
arguing that it was “illegal” and represented a violation of the OAS’s
non-interventionist founding principles, a position echoed by Bolivia and
Nicaragua. At the end of the meeting, Moncada, despite regular interruptions,
gave a fiesty reply to Venezuela’s critics, including Mexico, Colombia, Canada,
and the United States.

            “Moncada closed his speech to a
roomful of applause despite being interrupted by Canada’s permanent
representative to the OAS, Jennifer May Loten, who denounced allegations that
the U.S. rallied support against Venezuela,” Venezuela Analysis reported.

            Did Bachelet discuss the situation
in Venezuela with Jovenel Moïse? Is there a plan afoot to win over Haiti to the
nations collaborating with the U.S./Almagro offensive?

            Although Haiti commendably stood
with Venezuela this week, in the days ahead the Haitian people must watch
carefully for any signs that the government of President Jovenel Moïse and his
new Prime Minister Jack Guy Lafontant might waver on this issue.