Haiti: The Back Story

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Our role in Haiti’s plight

If we are serious about assisting this devastated land we must stop trying to control and exploit it

By Peter Hallward, guardian.co.uk, Jan. 13, 2010

Any large city in the world would have suffered extensive damage from an earthquake on the scale of the one that ravaged Haiti’s capital city on Tuesday afternoon, but it’s no accident that so much of Port-au-Prince now looks like a war zone. Much of the devastation wreaked by this latest and most calamitous disaster to befall Haiti is best understood as another thoroughly manmade outcome of a long and ugly historical sequence.

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Canada complicit in Haiti violence

By Nik Barry-Shaw and Yves Engler, rabble.ca, September 25, 2006

Does the Canadian-promoted “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine include murder, rape and threats of violence? That’s the question we should be asking Canadian officials after a study in the prestigious Lancet medical journal released at the end of August revealed there were 8,000 murders, 35,000 rapes and thousands of incidents of armed threats in the 22 months after the overthrow of the elected government in Haiti . . .

In January 2003, the Canadian government organized the “Ottawa Initiative” where U.S., Canadian and French government officials who met at Meech Lake decided that Haiti’s elected president, Jean Bertrand Aristide should be removed from office. The intervention was justified, they reasoned, by the Responsibility to Protect doctrine.

In due course, Aristide was forced from office. And Canada’s intervention in Haiti has exacerbated, rather than improved, Haiti’s human rights situation.

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A Very Canadian Coup d’état in Haiti: The Top 10 Ways that Canada’s Government Helped the 2004 Coup and its Reign of Terror

By Coalition Against the Arms Trade, March 2007

coat-haitiIn early 2004, a U.S.-funded, trained and armed paramilitary force of former CIA-backed death squads and soldiers from the military (that President Aristide had disbanded in 1995), attacked Haitian police stations, massacred government supporters and released human rights abusers from prisons.

The U.S., Canada and France did nothing to assist Haiti’s beleaguered democracy. Instead, they actually demanded that Aristide’s elected government share power with political representatives of Haiti’s wealthy corporate elite that had lost the 2000 elections and supported the rebels.

On February 28, President Aristide was kidnapped and forced into exile by U.S. Marines, with considerable help from a foreign occupation force of largely Canadian and French troops. That day, Haiti’s popular government—which had a clear mandate to govern until 2006—was illegally replaced by a puppet regime that was approved by Aristide’s political opposition, the occupation governments and the UN Security Council.

The brutal, coup-installed regime that ruled for the next two years was responsible for a reign of terror in which thousands of prodemocracy, pro-Aristide supporters were executed and many more jailed without charge.

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Crushing Haiti, Now as Always

By Patrick Cockburn, Counterpunch, Jan. 15, 2010

The US-run aid effort for Haiti is beginning to look chillingly similar to the criminally slow and disorganized US government support for New Orleans after it was devastated by hurricane Katrina in 2005. Four years ago President Bush was famously mute and detached when the levies broke in Louisiana. By way of contrast President Obama was promising Haitians that everything would be done for survivors within hours of the calamity.

The rhetoric from Washington has been very different during these two disasters, but the outcome may be much the same. In both cases very little aid arrived at the time it was most needed and, in the case of Port-au-Prince, when people trapped under collapsed buildings were still alive. When foreign rescue teams with heavy lifting gear does come it will be too late. No wonder enraged Haitians are building roadblocks out of rocks and dead bodies.

In New Orleans and Port-au-Prince there is the same official terror of looting by local people so the first outside help to arrive is in the shape of armed troops. The US currently has 3,500 soldiers, 2,200 Marines and 300 medical personnel on their way to Haiti.

Of course there will be looting because, with shops closed or flattened by the quake, this is the only way for people can get food and water.

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