Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Goodbye, Haiti.

First, you need to read Alison. And follow that up with a healthy dollop of non-mainstream media:

Book Review: Canada and Empire
Waging war on Haiti’s poor majority: Canada and [sic] Haiti by Yves Engler and Anthony Fenton

Review by Harold Lavender

“In both their writing and activism, Yves Engler and Anthony Fenton have done some of the most important work in exposing Canada’s shameful role in Haiti,” writes Naomi Klein about Canada in Haiti: Waging War on the Poor Majority, co-authored by Fenton and Engler.

This pointed 120-page book is essential reading for those who wish to hold the Liberal government accountable for its anti-democratic, imperialist intervention in Haiti.

In the wake of an invasion by heavily armed paramilitaries, former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide says he was kidnapped and removed from Haiti by US forces on February 29, 2004. Supporting both the coup and the repressive new regime were Canada’s Liberal government and NGOs cooperating with anti-Aristide forces.

In challenging Canada’s so-called “peacekeeper” role, Canada in Haiti reveals how the Liberal government propped up and provided legitimacy to the anti-democratic Haitian regime currently engaged in massive human rights violations...

George W. Bush barred more than $500 million in aid and loans to the elected Haitian government and his administration launched a destabilization campaign. However, when the US became embroiled in Iraq, Washington was happy to let Canada take a leading role in Haiti. Canada, with its cleaner, supposedly democratic international reputation, was better able to pull the wool over people’s eyes.

But Canada is no force for democracy in Haiti. In 2003, Fenton and Engler write, “Denis Paradis, Canada’s Secretary of State for Latin America and La Francophonie, played host to a high-level roundtable meeting dubbed the ‘Ottawa Initiative on Haiti.’ In a manner that would foreshadow future meetings hosted by the Canadian government, no representatives of Haiti’s elected government were invited.” L’Actualité reported that same year that Paradis and the French Minister of the Francophonie discussed a potential trusteeship over Haiti and the return of Haiti’s military. Paradis would later deny the report, saying the issue fell under the “Responsibility to Protect.” ...

The book asks why the Canadian government is so directly implicated.

Haiti, unlike Iraq, doesn’t have vast strategic resources. But the authors say that those who stand to gain from slavery, racism and colonialism, imperialism and today’s neo-liberalism have sought to undermine Haiti as an example and block the promise of its independence. And in 2004 they believed they could get away with it again.

The authors do not idolize Aristide or the record of Lavalas, the pro-Aristide party. However, they make a case that the regime (despite lack of funds and IMF strings) served the poor majority better than previous dictatorships or the new regime. They argue Aristide did not kowtow sufficiently to the neo-liberal agenda. His removal has led to attempts to fast-track a drastic program of privatization.

So-called future economic development in Haiti will be based on sweatshops utilizing the cheapest labour in the hemisphere. Canada is a player in this global sweatshop game, particularly through Montreal-based Gildan Activewear, a large supplier of T-shirts. Gildan plans to employ up to 5,000 people in Port-au-Prince, including work subcontracted to Andy Apaid, the leader of the G-184 opposition. Two Canadian mining companies, KWG Resources and St. Guinevere Resources, are planning to mine copper and gold on very favourable terms.

Aristide’s efforts to mobilize the poor majority were threatening to elite interests. In response, the Haitian elite want a strong military to protect their interests. So do Washington and Ottawa.

I think it's safe to say that, if you can believe even a fraction of the above, the chances of Haitians ever getting their country back fall somewhere between nil and zero.

AFTERSNARK: And in the above context, the following should creep you right out:

Harper says Canada in Haiti for the long haul

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Canada is in Haiti for the long haul and an expensive international effort will be needed to rebuild the country that was devastated by this week's earthquake.

"I think important long-term progress had been made, I think it's safe to say that has been virtually wiped out and we are starting from scratch," Harper said.

Starting from scratch, indeed. Beginning with a compliant government, I'm guessing. Or am I just being cynical again?


Gube said...

Disaster capitalism strikes again.

ForestP said...

I find it rather despicable how the long-term involvement of American, Canadian and French troops is currently being tailored by the MSM. The public is currently being groomed about future potential security crises erupting in Haiti due to the lack of adequate resources for the ill-stricken, yet when Peter Manbridge asks the Canadian Ambassador to Haiti about security problems, he gets a reply that suggests that the security situation is not at all collapsing or a cause for concern, but that the delivery of aid is of the utmost importance. Despite this answer, we're likely to hear nothing but scarce amounts of aid reaching the ground, the airport leading to long delays for arrival of much needed aid, and to top it off we're treated to not only Hillary Clinton's presser in Haiti, but Bill Clinton's presser yesterday.

The political and financial elites are so interested in securing their stakes in Haiti that they are already clambering over one another to 'visit' the humanitarian effort that is underway there and scope out what they can exploit from the misery.

Make room for people who can help and stop blocking (and controlling) the airport!

ForestP said...

The US military has taken control of the only airport in Port-au-Prince and is facing criticism for diverting some aid planes. Doctors Without Borders says five of its planes carrying surgical teams and equipment weren’t allowed to land and were diverted to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. US forces also turned back a French aid plane carrying a field hospital. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez accused President Obama of militarizing the aid effort in Haiti.

President Hugo Chavez: “Mr. Obama, send field hospitals instead of so many soldiers, so that there are fewer soldiers with machine guns and rifles, and a generous amount of doctors and nurses and medical equipment.”

During a trip to Port-au-Prince, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton defended the US response.

Hillary Clinton: "I want to assure the people of Haiti that the United States is a friend, a partner and a supporter, and we will work with your government under the direction of President Préval to assist in every way we can.”

Haitian President Préval left Haiti Monday to visit Santo Domingo for an emergency meeting to discuss financing the recovery effort. Dominican President Leonel Fernandez said it would take at least $10 billion over five years to rebuild Haiti.

reported on democracy now

Ti-Guy said...

Disaster capitalism strikes again.

Dibs on the Charter schools!

dupmar said...

Take note that New Socialist is the Canadian affiliate of the Revolutionary Communist Party in France, and as their name implies, the objective is not parliamentary socialism or NDP style social democracy but " communist revolution" or mass mobilization directed towards the "revolutionary overthrow of the bourgeois state".

Hardly a program of liberalism, and their take on Canadian imperialism and militarism with respect to Haiti should be taken with a huge dose of salt.