Once Again Canada Tries to ‘Run’ Haiti for US

Image by TopSphere Media.

Some people say the definition of insanity is repeating the same action but expecting a different result.

In the lead up to the 20th anniversary of a Canadian coup and two weeks after an illegitimate leader ignored a self-imposed deadline to depart, Ottawa put up $80 million to pay for a foreign intervention into Haiti.

At the recent G20 foreign ministers’ meeting in Brazil Melanie Joly announced $80 million to pay for an international policing mission to Haiti. The money is on top of $40 million previously announced for a quasi-UN military mission. In a statement Joly claimed Canada financing the Kenya-led force organized by Washington was a “Haitian solution” to the country’s troubles. “Canada believes in Haitian-led solutions to the political, security and humanitarian crises and remains committed to working with Kenya and other international partners to support a successful deployment of the Multinational Security Support mission,” she declared.

Canada’s announcement comes two weeks after Prime Minister Ariel Henry ignored the date, February 7, he’d previously announced for his departure after nearly three years of unconstitutional rule. Selected by the US- and Canada-dominated Core Group, Henry has little constitutional or popular legitimacy. Now, he’s ignoring his self-imposed date to leave.

Ostensibly about security, the Kenya mission is at least as much about protecting Henry and the undemocratic order the foreign powers depend on.

In Haiti history does repeat itself, the first time a tragedy, the second time a farce.

Henry was a member of the foreign-created ‘Council of the Wise’ that appointed the prime minister after the US, France and Canada ousted elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide 20 years ago this week. After a multi-year foreign backed campaign to destabilize his government, US Marines forced Aristide onto a plane in the middle of the night on February 29, 2004, and deposed him 8,000 km away in the Central African Republic. When Aristide was forced out, reported American Forces Press Service, “a team of [Canadian] JTF2 commandos… secured the International airport”.

Thirteen months earlier the Canadian government brought top US, French and OAS officials together for a private two-day gathering to discuss Haiti’s future. No Haitian officials were invited to the “Ottawa Initiative on Haiti” conference where they reportedly discussed ousting the elected president and putting the country under UN trusteeship. Ottawa’s role in overthrowing Haiti’s most popular ever government is the penultimate case of 20 coups detailed in my and Owen Schalk’s just released Canada’s Long Fight Against Democracy.

The coup led to a decade and a half long foreign military occupation. The disastrous UN mission, which introduced cholera to the country, made it difficult to generate support in the hemisphere for another mission to Haiti. Washington wanted Canada to lead the foreign force but the Canadian military was opposed. Ottawa pressed other countries in the hemisphere to join with limited success. Ultimately, Washington was forced to look further afield to find a country to lead a mission that is UN approved but not funded by the international organization.

While no CARICOM country was willing to lead the mission, Canada’s been pushing Caribbean countries to participate. Canadian troops are currently training soldiers from the Bahamas to go to Haiti. At this week’s CARICOM summit international development minister Ahmed Hussen promoted participation in the mission. Hussen said, “Canada’s commitment to promoting security, stability, and development in Haiti remains steadfast. Today, alongside CARICOM leaders, we discussed how we will continue to be there for Haitians.” In Guyana Hussen also met privately with the US ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield. She said the meeting was to “discuss our mutual commitment to advancing peace and security in Haiti.”

On Sunday hundreds marched on the Canadian embassy in Port-au-Prince. Denouncing Canada‘s promotion of a new foreign intervention, some protesters burnt tires. One man declared that “Canada, the US and France are preventing Haiti’s development.”

The more things change, the more they remain the same.

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