To the editor,
There is very convincing evidence that almost 10 years ago there was a coup d’etat in Haiti that was planned and executed by France, the United States and Canada (under the Liberals). Elected representatives from all levels of Haiti’s government were pushed out.
In February 2004, Haiti’s people and their extremely popular government were under attack by a well-equipped paramilitary force. President Jean-Bertrand Aristide asked for assistance from the international community. On Feb. 29, instead of providing this assistance, U.S. soldiers forced him to board a plane that took him to exile in the Central African Republic. Soldiers of the Canadian Joint Task Force 2 were on duty at the Toussaint l’Ouverture Airport later that day. French troops began to arrive on March.
Fanmi Lavalas, the political party that Jean-Bertrand Aristide represented, has been the most popular party in Haiti since long before the 2004 coup. It has remained so despite the period of extremely violent repression that followed the coup. In the 22 months after the coup there were an estimated 8,000 murders and 35,000 sexual assaults in the Port-au-Prince area. Over half of these murders and about a quarter of the sexual assaults could reasonably be termed “political repression.”
The Canadian-trained Haitian National Police and the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti are both implicated in massacres. Lavalas has not been allowed to run candidates in any of several elections that have taken place since the coup.
The Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake struck a severe blow to Haiti’s population. There was an international outpouring of empathy and support following the earthquake and Canada did send assistance and matched individuals’ donations to aid organizations for a period of time. However, the Conservative government was worried that there would be a “popular uprising” and sent 2,050 soldiers instead of the specially trained Heavy Urban Search and Rescue teams. A Canadian government document obtained by the Canadian Press a year after the earthquake, states: “Political fragility has increased the risks of a popular uprising, and has fed the rumour that ex-president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, currently in exile in South Africa, wants to organize a return to power.”
The Canada Haiti Action Network has prepared an apology letter that individuals and organizations can sign onto. You can find it and lots of information about Canada’s role in Haiti at: http://www.canadahaitiaction.ca/
The Atlantic Regional Solidarity Network is holding a protest to mark the 10th anniversary of the coup on March 1 at 1p.m. at the constituency office of Justice Minister Peter MacKay, 980 East River Rd., New Glasgow.
Catherine Hughes and Jeff Moore
Atlantic Regional Solidarity Network