by the Canadian Peace Alliance
The Canadian Peace Alliance (CPA) urges its member organizations and supporters to give generously to the relief efforts responding to the catastrophic disaster in Haiti following last week’s massive earthquake.
The CPA also wishes to express its deep concern about the deployment of up to an additional 1,000 Canadian Forces to Haiti, announced Sunday by Defence Minister Peter MacKay, in collaboration with a U.S. mission of over 10,000 troops. Early reports from Haiti suggest that this militarization of the relief operation is both unwelcome and unhelpful.
Al-Jazeera news reported on the weekend that the U.S. military, which now controls the airport in Port-au-Prince, turned away several planes carrying physicians and supplies from Doctors Without Borders. A CARICOM aid flight and other humanitarian deliveries have also been turned away, with deadly results for the Haitian people.
Patrick Elie, a social activist and former Haitian Defense Minister, stated, “We don’t need soldiers as such. There’s no war here.” Elie noted the importance of Haitian sovereignty, “The choice of what lands and what doesn’t… should be determined by the Haitians. Otherwise it’s a takeover.” Even the French government, which has long partnered with the U.S. in subjugating Haiti, complained that the U.S. operation looks more like an “occupation” than a relief mission.
The extent of the death and suffering in Haiti is in part a result of systemic policies that have undermined Haiti’s economic and political independence. This includes, most recently, the 2004 US, Canadian and French-backed coup d’etat against the democratically-elected government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, which was consolidated by a UN occupation.
Aristide, exiled since 2004 in South Africa, has said he wishes to return to Haiti to help with relief efforts. Associated Press reported Sunday that people in Haiti, “sounded furious with [current] President Rene Preval, who hasn’t been seen at a rescue site or gone on radio to address the nation since the quake struck. ‘Preval out! Aristide come back!’ some shouted.”
Getting aid to those in desperate need must be our priority, and the CPA commends the ordinary people from across Canada who have given generously or volunteered for rescue or medical duty. Especially given the track records of the US and Canadian governments towards Haiti, the militarization of aid and infringements on Haitian sovereignty threaten to compound an immensely tragic situation.
The CPA supports calls for:
-Humanitarian aid, not militarization of aid
-Drop Haiti’s debt
-Grants, not loans
For information on how to donate to effective aid organizations, and for details on fundraising and solidarity events taking place across Canada, please visit The Canada Haiti Action Network’s website: http://canadahaitiaction.ca/
Al-Jazeera video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0F5TwEK24sA&feature=player_embedded