On August 5, Haitians and their international
supporters held a boisterous eight-hour demonstration in front
of the United Nations General Headquarters in Manhattan to
demand the immediate withdrawal of UN occupation troops from
Haiti and the payment of reparations to the families of the
6,000 Haitians who have now been killed by a cholera epidemic.
The disease was imported into Haiti by UN troops last October.
Organizers estimate that a
few hundred demonstrators cycled through the picket-line in
Ralph Bunche Plaza during the course of the all-day
demonstration, which began at 10 a.m. and ended at 6 p.m.. At
any given time during the day, there were about 70 people
holding signs and chanting anti-occupation slogans like “UN
Troops Out of Haiti Now!” and “Down with MINUSTAH!”,
the acronym for the UN Mission to Stabilize Haiti.
A number of demonstrators
paraded with symbolic card-board coffins in front of others
waving blue and red Haitian flags, as journalists photographed
and filmed. On the side of the coffins, which were covered with
images of skulls, one could read slogans like “UN Troops
Brought Cholera to Haiti!” and “Reparations Now for
The demonstration was
called by a new committee called the “Komite Sitwayen pou
Pwoteksyon Ayisyen” (KOSIPPA) or Citizens Committee for the
Protection of Haitians. Numerous other Haitian community groups
in the New York area supported the action, as well as U.S.
groups like the International Action Center, the ANSWER
Coalition, and the Newark-based Peoples Organization for
The MINUSTAH was first
deployed in Haiti on June 1, 2004, to take over from U.S.,
French, and Canadian troops which occupied Haiti immediately
following the February 29, 2004 coup d’état against former
President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
Generally, the UN Security
Council renews MINUSTAH’s mandate for one year every year. The
last mandate expires on October 15, 2011, and most Haitians are
demanding that it not be renewed.
and its allies want to keep the occupation in place, even now
after seven and a half years. “A premature departure of
MINUSTAH would leave the [Haitian] government...vulnerable
to...resurgent populist and anti-market economy political
forces—reversing gains of the last two years,” wrote US
Ambassador Janet Sanderson in an October 1, 2008 secret embassy
cable obtained by WikiLeaks and provided to Haïti Liberté.
MINUSTAH “is an indispensable tool in realizing core USG [US
government] policy interests in Haiti.”
On July 28, 2011, the 96th anniversary of the 1915
U.S. Marine occupation of Haiti, a coalition of grassroots
organizations also demonstrated in Port-au-Prince to demand an
end to the UN occupation.