So-called humanitarian intervention a sham in Haiti and Venezuela
Reuters journalist Robenson Sanon holds up his blood covered arm, after he was shot while documenting clashes between national police and protesters near the presidential palace in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on February 13, 2019. | Dieu Nalio Chery/AP

Source: The Communist Party of Venezuela posted this article on its website at It appeared earlier on a Cuban website at: Following is a translation from the original Spanish by William T. Whitney, Jr.

After protests in Haiti over several days, the risk is great there of a humanitarian crisis. This is according to a Spanish NGO claiming to struggle “against inequalities” and seeking “to contribute to protecting human rights in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Europe.”

Anyone can verify the assertion from this group – its name is Alliance for Solidarity –  that Haiti’s crisis is longstanding; it’s rooted in the poverty of a nation long invisible to the developed world that has been plundering it. And the same poverty is causing the current protests.  Leaders are charging President Jovenel Moïse with responsibility.

Some of the factors indicating the extent to which Haiti ought to be of concern are these: depreciation of the currency by 23 percent over the last three months, the great impact of inflation on the cost of living, as many as 10 percent of Haitians already facing a humanitarian crisis, and two million of them needing urgent help now. These data, undoubtedly brief and superficial, are from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

The situation has worsened recently with more than 50 deaths, 200 wounded and 500 arrested, according to the same Spanish NGO, whose sources are unidentified. Nevertheless, that crisis has not yet provoked commentary from anyone other than that NGO. But that may not be all bad, especially if one looks at Haiti’s recent history which overflows with examples of falsehoods embedded within definite “humanitarian concerns.”

After a coup engineered by his military in 1994, Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide was restored to his office through military intervention organized by the United States – The price was to let his country be occupied and the result was more instability and hunger.

That intervention wasn’t defined as humanitarian. Instead, it was “for restoring democracy.” It could be said, however, that such a justification might lead to another test for what happens when troops are sent to other nations ostensibly to protect the population but who bring about exactly the opposite.

That practice gained momentum under the auspices of a former Democratic president of the United States. A commentator at the time identified humanitarian wars and the Clinton Doctrine as one and the same thing.

His administration took part in the allegedly “humanitarian” bombardments the United Nations unleashed against Yugoslavia in March 1999. The pretext was to “protect” the civilians of Kosovo. These attacks annihilated the country and jeopardized the integrity of Yugoslavia. The non-political costs were more than 2,000 killed and damages estimated at between $30 billion and $100 billion. Political damage showed up in the dismemberment of a country and its political system.

It was possibly the greatest disaster ever inflicted until then on the supposed basis of defending the rights of a people. They may have tried to sell the idea on the theory that “humanitarian” military intervention represents a just war. And they are still trying.

An earlier reference point is that of Somalia.  In 1992 the UN Security Council voted in favor of using force to guarantee the distribution of humanitarian aid in that country. It was on that basis that 1,800 marines and 30,000 soldiers were deployed there. But that wasn’t the first time that a presumed good-will arrangement was invoked in order to invade another state.

Robert Kolb, a specialist in international law and at that time a professor at the University Center of International Humanitarian Law in Geneva, published an article in 2003 that classified humanitarian intervention as a “form of coercive foreign intervention.” That approach, routine in the 19th century, was modified, he observed, following adoption of the United Nations Charter with its second and fifth articles. They required member states to refrain from resorting to the threat or use of force. They also established the right of member states to a legitimate defense in case of armed attack.

Discussion concerning humanitarian intervention gained momentum after the attacks on Yugoslavia. But in fact, humanitarian interventions have continued, although they continued to provoke criticisms.

In the wake of the invasion of Iraq in 2003, The Nation that year published an article entitled “Humanitarian or Preventative War?” It was republished afterwards in nothing less than El Pais of Spain. Justifications for that war were: the idea advanced but never substantiated that Iraq had nuclear weapons, confrontation against alleged terrorism, and safeguarding international security. The article went on to explain that, “The inevitable consequence of extolling humanitarian intervention as a suitable response to wars and refugee crises will be to create a new colonial order of things.

“The military action usually consists, in practice, of replacing the government of the country in question with either the government of the humanitarian intervener or some external agent. The latter used to be the United Nations or, if not, a local substitute that is actually controlled by the external intervener.”

In the case of Iraq, the purpose was to defeat Saddam Hussein. The resulting toll had to be sobering: some 5,500 soldiers and mercenaries of private security firms were killed. But it was worse, of course, for those targeted by the interveners. Around one half million were killed and at least a fourth of them were civilians.

Afterwards, in spite of everything, the world confronted the disaster caused by the U. S. and NATO in Libya in 2011. According to experts cited recently by Russia Today, “That did more to undermine human rights than to protect them.”

There’s no lack of cases proving that the advertised – but never realized – desire of the United States and other powers “to offer respect for people’s human rights, security, and integrity” relies increasingly on strategies of political intervention.

They’ve been implemented with or without backing by the United Nations. They’ve provoked opposition from those who put forth the idea that still the most heartfelt way of helping out has to take into account respect for a state’s national sovereignty.

In March 2001, an article by Anne Ryniker appearing on the website of the International Committee of the Red Cross asserted that “from the point of view of International humanitarian law, there exists an inherent contradiction when talk turns to ‘humanitarian intervention’ or ‘interference.” That’s because the term ‘humanitarian’ must be reserved for action directed at mitigating the suffering of victims. However, ‘humanitarian intervention,’ as it’s understood today, means armed intervention that often involves a political program.”

The geo-strategic objectives behind these interventions take into account not only regime change but also the desire to control natural resources of countries that are invaded.

Against Venezuela

One has to place U.S. rhetoric about sending supposed humanitarian aid to Venezuela in this context and in no other: it’s a springboard for one of two varieties of military intervention, either open or hidden.

By itself, to use the mechanism and concept of humanitarian aid against the Bolivarian nation entails several objectives that don’t take into consideration this fallacy: Washington sends $20 million worth of “aid” but, conversely, its punitive measures cause losses to the Venezuela state that exceed $30 billion.  Analysts like the Latin American Strategic Center for Geopolitics (CELAG) insist that the losses are greater, that since 2013 they’ve risen to $350 billion dollars.

To accept that there’s a “humanitarian crisis” in Venezuela – which doesn’t exist – would be the same as showing off that country’s inner workings as representing a failed state.  Doing so would establish a justification for what’s being sought, which is backing for a resolution in the United Nations Security Council giving carte blanche to the United States for intervening directly and in a big way.

But more than that, the humanitarian project continually manufactures pretexts and searches out followers and U.S.- created “moments” so that the United States might exercise that military option which President Donald Trump doesn’t repudiate.  So far he hasn’t obtained recognition within Venezuela for his puppet Juan Guaidó and hasn’t achieved the regime change he wants. Nor has he succeeded in his intention of imposing new presidential elections on Venezuelans from the outside. They would be held in disregard of Nicolás Maduro having been elected president on May 20, 2018.

The upcoming delivery of supposed aid through sections of Colombian border areas like Cúcuta and against the will of the Venezuelan state constitutes a provocation that poses great danger. Planes of the U.S. Air Force are being used. We note the disrespectful, rude presence in that part of Colombia of Marco Rubio, that hateful anti-Bolivarian and anti-Cuban senator from Florida.  He is one of the ones stirring up Yankee aggression against Latin American countries that are “different.”

One analyst has expressed the view that with its humanitarian show Washington is now establishing something resembling a supply line for future military operations. It would be a step-by-step action that also contemplates use by the fragmented rightwing opposition symbolized by Guaidó of money frozen by U.S. sanctions against Venezuela. The purpose would be to set off an armed implosion.

In the end, however, the military route, full of abuses, would be even more straightforward if Guaidó himself “seeks” the entry of U.S. forces into the game. He’s announced he could do that and the U.S. side goes along.  Nobody in the world would believe in a U.S. “humanitarian purpose” if it were not for the gigantic media operation that demonizes anything happening in Venezuela.

That version of future events would represent a criminal act, an exercise of rancid hypocrisy, and Yankee mockery of international law. Even so, worldwide forces of decency could stop it.


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People’s World is a voice for progressive change and socialism in the United States. It provides news and analysis of, by, and for the labor and democratic movements to our readers across the country and around the world. People’s World traces its lineage to the Daily Worker newspaper, founded by communists, socialists, union members, and other activists in Chicago in 1924.