Canadian Involvement in Haiti
Tuesday June 9 , 2009
Background to the Coup
Why isn’t there an outcry?
- Canada has supported a coup in Haiti
- The support of Canada is shown in many ways, including “so called aid”
- Dr J argues that UN has not played a neutral role
- Canadians like to think of themselves as noble and benevolent, and most are oblivious to how unfair the situation and
Canada’s involvement in Haiti is
- In Feb 2004, it was presented to us that we have to get involved in Haiti, because Aristide was corrupt and using his
people, and was opposed by the majority poor population of Haiti
- We sent our police force, RCMP, and other people in order to train a new force so that that institution in Haiti would
be purged of pro-Aristide thugs
- Money to Haiti has mostly been funnelled through CIDA
- CIDA argues it goes to promote democracy (although they overthrew an elected president), and healthcare and
- Dr J will suggest there is a gap between our perception and what is actually going on in Haiti
- If we are complicit in a new legal coup, why do we get involved? If money doesn’t go to help the poor, where does it
go> If we aren’t doing good there, why aren’t Canadians unhappy or concerned?
- Haiti is 1/3 of Espanola and the other 2/3 is Dominican. It is a high strategic interest for the USA
o Not far from shore of USA
o Both Haiti and Dominican have been considered to be bulwarks, defences against he spread of Cuban
communism. Seen as anti-communist
o For that reason, for 30 years, 56-86, one family controlled Haiti , the Duvaliars, with support of USA
- Babydoc (?) was opposed by Haitians because he had begun globalization, and the foreign investors that came to Haiti
were primarily clothing manufacturers, sweatshop style production
- If we look at Haiti geo-strategically, it doesn’t have the stuff that generally promotes foreign involvement (i.e, gas,
timber), so what is it (except from being anti-communist) that promotes inters in Haiti?
o It has rotated through the bottom three in terms of rankings of poorest countries in the Western hemisphere
for years (i.e. sometimes its 1 , 2 , or 3 poorest – fluctuation)
o This means Haiti has just one resource poor people. Who are very attractive in the global market because
of globalization, cheap labour, high profit margins
- Politics in Haiti – took a while to get democratic elections, till 1990
o 1990 – Aristide was democratically elected, he said he would look after the poor. He beat out the USA and
elite people, he was the first nation leader to rep the masses rather than the tiny elite.
o As soon as Aristide won, the CIA began to arm and back the Haitian military and paramilitary (non official
soldiers, thugs) in order to destabilize his regime. This was successful
o 1991 – coup which forced Aristide to leave the country. He went to the USA, for the next 3 years, Clinton
was at pains to educate Aristide about his correct role. When he learned his lesson”, marines brought him
back to Haiti.
o He was told that now he could only go to 1995 and would have to have elections again
Haitian Constitution says you cant have a president two terms in a row - Rene pravale (?) won in 1995, on the grounds of being Aristide’s ally. IT turns out he was more into USA demands,
and he dropped tariffs and quotas which would have prevented imports of USA food. SO he allowed foreign food, esp
USA food, into the country. This drove Haitian farmers out. USA rice was cheaper than Haitian rice.
- Haiti is the 7 largest importer of foreign rice, and Haitian
- Aristide ran again, and won with a landslide. He is said to control from 60-70% of popular vote.
- Democratic Convergence – opposition
o Boycotted elections, and didn’t put anyone forward because they knew they could not compete with Aristide.
They did not put candidates forward
- Organization of American States (OAS) declared these elections to be democratically fair. UNTIL they realized
that Aristide was actually going to win with a landslide.
o As votes run in, they start to invent problems
o Said there were “irregularities” in the balloting for 8 seats in the senate, and said that Aristide has to open the
election again for these 8 seats
o Aristide, said no because he knew what was going on and knew it was fabricated
- So USA and Canada led an aid embargo to Haiti. They had promised money to them, but with this election, they
boycotted Haiti’s aid money
o Left Aristide with no money to run. They THEN even charged him interest on the loans that they had not
given to Haiti yet.
- Canada funnelled money through NGOs instead, to provide education and health etc
o They wanted to send the message that the Haitian government is incompetent of providing basic things like
health and education, it was an attempt to destabilize image of Aristide
- In late 2003, Aristide supported a measure through government to increase minimum wage from $1 Canadian per day
to $2 Canadian per day
o As soon as this passed, international pressure mounted both in press and in the ground, to get rid of him
o USA started funding guerrilla leaders (thugs), arm them, and set up training camps
o These groups started crossing the border, we were told this was a legitimate civil war, we were told
opposition forces which hated Aristide were these people
- In 2004, Colin Powell said the USA will not intervene, and everyone started flipping out
o It was never hit to the press that the spark was the rise in minimum wage, it was all said that it was about
- Mostly foreign media, no one was actually there doing journalism, they were just attacking into the Haitian media
o All of the Haitian media is owned by the 1% elite, there is no popular media
o The 1% was making a story that made them look like there is anti-Aristide sentiment
o Foreign media simply recycled these stories
o Most people came to believe that Aristide was illegitimate, that he was corrupt, violent,
- The opposition groups put forward a guy named Andre something (?)
- Why was Canada complicit?
- Why was Canada involved?
- A government run by the 1% elite is better for Canadian business than a popular one
- Gildan active wear runs in Haiti, it is based in Montreal
o Being able to make t-shirts in Haiti has been critical to Gildan’s success and global operations
o The reason they didn’t want the minimum wage to go up, because in 2005 the textile quota system
disappeared on the basis of free trade (it had controlled USA imports and gave different countries quotas of
how much textiles they can export to the USA)
- USA could bring as much clothing from anywhere in the world. They would have gone to China, because it’s the
cheapest for clothing, and has the cheapest labour in the world.
- Gildan therefore had to figure out how to produce clothes that could compete with Chinese low benchmark, and the