Canada plays big role in propping
up Haiti regime
by Tim Pelzer
ZNet , 1/10/05
The Canadian government is taking a leadership
role in propping up the U.S.-installed regime in Haiti and keeping
Fanmi Lavalas, the party of ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide,
from returning to power.
While the Canadian government currently
promotes a message of reconciliation and advocates the peaceful
reconstruction of Haitian society, it quietly supported the U.S.
overthrow of democratically elected President Aristide.
Despite denials from the Ministry of
External Affairs, journalist Michel Vastel reported in the Quebec-based
magazine L'Actualite that Canadian officials secretly met with
U.S., Latin American and French diplomats to plan Aristide's overthrow.
He also reported that Canadian and French officials discussed
placing Haiti under UN guardianship, similar to Kosovo, in January
The U.S. funded the country's anti-Aristide
opposition that destabilized the Lavalas government. U.S. marines
then apprehended Aristide and flew him out of the country and
into exile on Feb. 29, 2004.
After the U.S. deposed Aristide, the
Canadian government, without uttering a word of criticism of the
Bush administration's actions, sent soldiers and police officers
to join the United Nations Stabilization Mission (MINUSTAH) occupying
Haiti. This force, led by Brazil, has been supporting the government's
campaign to repress Lavalas supporters, accompanying police raids
into pro-Lavalas neighborhoods.
Human rights monitors have complained
that MINUSTAH forces have failed to stop police who carry out
brutal acts of retribution against Lavalas supporters. The UN
Police Commissioner in Haiti is Royal Canadian Mounted Police
officer David Beer, who had previously been in Iraq assisting
counterinsurgency efforts against Iraqi guerrillas.
The government of Canadian Prime Minister
Paul Martin is promising $180 million in aid to Haiti over the
next two years. In contrast, it provided only $23.9 million from
2002 to 2003 when Aristide was in power.
Martin visited Haiti in November where
he spoke with political leaders. Alluding to widespread demands
in Haiti for the return of Aristide, Martin stated during his
stay that reconstruction in that country should not be based on
"nostalgia for the past."
On Dec. 10 and 11, the Canadian government
organized a conference in Montreal where Canadian and Haitian
officials discussed the rebuilding of Haiti. Haitian Prime Minister
Gerard Latortue along with other officials met with Martin, External
Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew and other Canadian government
leaders. The Lavalas party was not included in the meeting.
Martin announced that Canada would play
a leadership role in reconstructing Haitian society. While he
called for "national reconciliation involving all of the
players in Haitian society, including the Lavalas party,"
his government failed to invite Lavalas - the party that enjoys
the support of the majority of the country's population - to the
Those persons who attended the meeting
claiming that they represented Lavalas were, according to Mario
Dupuy of the party's Communication Commission in exile, "falsely
representing the party." He told the World that the Canadian
government did not invite his party to the conference.
The Canadian government, along with the
U.S. and France, has been pressing UN forces to participate in
the crackdown on Haiti's population, according to General Augusto
Heleno Ribeiro, the top Brazilian commander of the UN military
force. "We are under extreme pressure from the international
community to use violence," he told a congressional commission
in Brazil. "I command a peacekeeping force, not an occupation
force. ... We are not there to carry out violence."
Prime Minister Martin is also a strong
advocate of holding elections in Haiti later this year that will
most likely exclude the Lavalas party. To this end, he is promising
a major infusion of technical and financial aid. However, while
he has said that he wants Lavalas to participate, he is currently
backing a government that is violently repressing that party.
Human rights monitors report that the
Latortue regime has killed and jailed many Lavalas members, supporters
and leaders, and forced many others into exile. Lavalas has said
it would like to participate in the elections but cannot do so
because the authorities will not allow it to hold meetings or