Time for Trudeau to Follow His Own Advice on Haiti

What is the name for someone who speaks the words people want to hear, but then does the exact opposite? Politician, statesman, hypocrite, Justin Trudeau?

At the United Nations in New York the Canadian prime minister recently declared, “we cannot continue to see external elements no matter how well-meaning try to determine the future of Haiti.” In the same statement Canada’s Prime Minister also denounced “elites and oligarchs who contribute to instability” in the Caribbean country, which has been the site of a popular uprising over the past month.

As noted in this mocking video, Trudeau hosted an international gathering to discuss Haiti that same day where he lauded the imperial triumvirate’s (US, France and Canada) role in Haiti. Two days later Washington and Ottawa released a “Joint Statement on Support for the Haiti Security Basket Fund”. As the Miami Herald recently reported, Canada has announced/delivered $42 million worth of assistance to the Haitian police this year. But don’t expect Canadian officials to say anything when they violently suppress protesters.

If Trudeau were serious about “outside elements” determining Haitian affairs he could easily withdraw Canada from the nakedly imperialist Core Group. The Core Group is a coalition of foreign representatives (US, Canada, France, Spain, Germany, Brazil, EU, UN and OAS) that periodically releases statements on Haitian affairs. Fourteen months ago the Core Group selected Ariel Henry to lead the country after the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse.

On Friday the Financial Times reported “Henry, Moïse’s chosen successor, emerged victorious in the power struggle that ensued after the assassination, having gained the crucial backing of the Core Group, an international coalition which includes the United States, Canada and France. But without local support he is in a precarious position.”

Similarly, if Canada’s Prime Minister wanted to weaken the power of Haiti’s “elites and oligarchs” he would stop propping up Ariel Henry and the oligarchic PHTK regime that’s ruled since the US and Canada assisted Michel Martelly’s rise to power in 2011.

The PHTK is a linchpin of Haiti’s abhorrent system of “racial capitalism”. Light-skinned local oligarchs, working with foreign powers, dominate the economy. In “Los hombres de poder de Haití que hacen negocios aquí” Dominican newspaper Listín Diario recently highlighted the Haitian capitalists with significant interests in the Dominican Republic. The racial dynamic is stunning. They are overwhelmingly light skinned in a country that is 99% Black.

A popular uprising is challenging the oligarchic, foreign, domination of the country. For over a month urban centres in Haiti have been paralyzed by demonstrations, blockades and intermittent looting. Protesters want Henry to go. Still, Ottawa remains openly supportive of Henry. Canada’s ambassador to Haiti, Sébastien Carrière, told the Financial Times “in my view the current prime minister has to be part of the solution.”

As such, it’s not surprising that Ottawa has repeatedly been the target of protesters. Four days ago an activist in Petit-Goâve told an interviewer they refuse to continue living under “imperialist and colonialist system” imposed by the US, France, Canada, UN and Core Group while two weeks earlier protesters in aux Cayes marched with a casket draped with the US, French and Canadian flags and a picture of Ariel Henry. A meme circulating online shows wild dogs — one with a Canadian flag — eating a little lamb with a Haitian flag.

Canadians of conscience should support the popular uprising in Haiti. To do so we must press the prime minister to align Canadian policy with his own words about “oligarchs” and “external elements”.

Mr. Trudeau, you have talked the talk, now walk the walk.

Yves Engler’s latest book is Stand on Guard for Whom?: A People’s History of the Canadian Military.