Harper as Haiti Hero. July 20, 2007


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“Prime Minister Stephen Harper poses with Haitians in a Cité-Soleil hospital during a one-day visit to Port-au-Prince on Friday.” (Kena Betancur/Reuters)

The image of our Prime Minister in a Haitian clinic is meant to whitewash the shameful role Canada has played in Haiti. The clinic, obviously brand new from the looks of the roof, is also meant to show progress in a country that defies the conventional term of poverty. Neither I or the Prime Minister can know what the suffering is like, but I’ll bet he hasn’t seen the documentary film I have seen on the reality of Haiti.

Alan Freeman, for today’s online Globe and Mail, reported that “Prime Minister Stephen Harper arrived in the poorest nation in the Americas on Friday for a visit aimed at demonstrating Canada’s continued support for the Caribbean nation as it tries to overcome a heritage of destitution, violence and political instability.” What the Canadian public doesn’t hear about is WHY there is continuing “destitution,violence and political instability”. The emphasis of the article is on Canadian aid and our efforts to help the Haitian who just can’t seem to help themselves. This coverage is racist, condescending and just plain inaccurate.

According to Shirley Pate, writing for HaitiAnalysis.com, “[e]arly in the new millennium, the US, France, and Canada rolled out plans for the demise of Haiti’s democratically-elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Aristide, a priest guided by liberation theology as a way to achieve societal advancement, worried the international community. During the 1990’s, President Aristide began to resist the structural adjustment programs that [International Financial Institutions] IFIs required as a condition for obtaining loans. Most structural adjustment programs rob countries of their social programs and steer national economies toward privatization. Aristide knew that not only were the IFIs’ loan requirements onerous, but acceptance of these loans would condemn Haiti, like other poor countries, to perpetual indebtedness.”

Aristide was overthrown, with Canada’s help, because he stood in the way of the continued exploitation of the Haitian people. It is an affront to all that is decent that Mr. Harper – a proponent of privatization – would have the gall to stand with the very poor of Haiti he is helping to exploit.

In an online July 16, 2007 article by Agence Haitïenne de Presse, it was reported that “[t]housands of people demonstrated Sunday [July15, 2007] in several Haitian cities such as Port-au-Prince and Cap-Haïtien to mark the 54th birthday of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The demonstrators called for the former chief of State, forced to leave Haiti on February 29, 2004, by foreign powers, to return to his home country.”

” They appealed to the president[Préval] to include a thought for the poor and criticized the wave of dismissals that has begun under the plan to privatize public enterprises.” Clearly, things are not settled as far as Haitians are concerned.

During the “20 Years of Propaganda?” conference in May at the University of Windsor, I watched a documentary by Kevin Pina, entitled “Haiti:”We Must Kill the Bandits”“. The film was a shocking awakening to the brutality that occurred in Haiti, during and after the overthrow of Aristide, and even when the UN took over from American and Canadian soldiers.

(YouTube Trailer for “Haiti:We Must Kill the Bandits”)
Pina made clear in a question and answer session after the screening that Haiti represents the lowest common denominator for wages and working conditions, in this hemisphere. If the poorest of the poor struggle to improve their lot and defy the international finance community, then what would happen in Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, and all the other low wage, countries large corporations require to produce our cheap goods?

Haiti is on the front line of the international competition for low wage workers. Having a freely elected, popular priest, steeped in liberation theology, was simply unacceptable to the wealthy elites in Canada and the United States. This time, Canada is not helping the people of Haiti, we are helping ourselves. As unpleasant as it is to confront, Canadians are part of the reason for the continued destitution in Haiti. The Globe article is merely propagandizing, using our “aid” as a soothing device to ease our consciences, when in fact, we have helped kill off any effective opposition in Haiti to the privatization of the country.

Read more about the effects of privatization in Haiti here, and here

5 Comments

Filed under ALAN FREEMAN, Confederation of Haitian Workers, Global Capitalism, Globe and Mail, Haiti Analysis.com, Haiti Information Project, Human Rights, Kevin Pina, propaganda, Stephen Harper, The Harper Index, World Inequality

5 responses to “Harper as Haiti Hero. July 20, 2007

  1. Good analysis. It is doubly shameful when wealthy countries exploit poor ones, then bask in glory when they “donate” partial solutions to the problems they caused.

  2. jh

    Drugs and Politics in Haiti

    HIP – The US Drug Enforcement Agency’s recent attempt to hunt down former policeman, paramilitary commander and presidential candidate Guy Philippe on drug charges can be traced back to a recent arrest in the town of Gonaives, Haiti.

    Haitian police and Argentinean units of the UN arrested Wilfort Ferdinand, alias Ti Wil; on May 26 after he gave a lengthy interview on local radio station Radio Gonaives FM. Although news of Ferdinand’s arrest received scant attention in the international press it was one of the top stories throughout Haiti the following day. Much of the reporting in the Haitian press focused on the shared history of Wilfort Ferdinand and Guy Philippe in leading paramilitary forces that helped to oust the government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

    In early February 2004, Wilfort Ferdinand along with Butteur Metayer, Winter Etienne and Dieujuste Jeanty, led armed gangs to attack police stations in the Artibonite region in a bid to oust Aristide’s government. They left a bloody trail in their wake including the summary execution of Aristide supporters in the streets of several cities. Their group, called the Artibonite Resistance Front, later joined with the small but well-armed paramilitary groups that invaded Haiti from the Dominican Republic under the leadership of Guy Philippe and former death squad commander Jodel Chamblain. Ferdinand and the others quickly claimed allegiance to Philippe and publicly referred to him as their “commander-in-chief” in press interviews.

    Ferdinand appointed himself Chief of Police of Gonaives and Winter Etienne became the Chief of the Gonaives Port Authority, ruling Haiti’s fourth largest city as a personal fiefdom following the ouster of Aristide on Feb. 29, 2004. Philippe shared the podium with Ferdinand in late March 2004 when US-installed prime minister Gerard Latortue was flown into Gonaives by US military helicopters accompanied by Davi d Lee, Canadian ambassador to the Organization of American States. During a mock celebration of Aristide’s ouster, Latortue publicly praised the men as misunderstood “freedom fighters” while ambassador Lee nodded his head in approval.

    During Ferdinand’s interview on Radio Gonaives FM and just before his arrest on May 26, he repeated assertions he had made days earlier on another radio station in the capital. He claimed that he was being pressured by “certain members of the business community” to take up arms against the current government of President Rene Preval. He explained that these were some of the same business leaders that had financed their paramilitary operations against Aristide and ended with “I would rather commit suicide than raise arms against this government.”

    The day following Ferdinand’s arrest, May 27, Guy Philippe was interviewed on Haitian radio station Signal FM where he took the accusations a step further. Without answering the question of pressure to take up arms against Preval, Philippe began to name names of business and political leaders who backed the paramilitary insurgency against Aristide’s government by providing arms, ammunition and logistical support.

    Philippe’s list included members of what was then touted as the “peaceful opposition” in Haiti that led demonstrations in the capital and other cities demanding Aristide’s resignation. High on the list was Andy Apaid the leader of the civil society organization called the Group 184.

    Apaid had been extensively quoted in the international media at the time saying their movement was non-violent and had no connections to the paramilitary bands. Claire Marshall wrote for the BBC on Feb. 13, 2004, “One of the most prominent opposition platform spokesmen, Andy Apaid, wanted to make it clear that he did not approve of violent methods.” Marshall continued, “Andy Apaid invoked the names of Martin Luther K ing and Mahatma Gandhi, saying that he wanted to try and lead the opposition in a form of peaceful protest.” Philippe’s disclosures exposed Apaid’s duplicity and served to discredit the “peaceful opposition” movement against Aristide. It also highlighted the uncritical and favorable reporting given to it by the BBC and other major news organizations.

    Philippe’s list also included the leadership of several political parties that were part of a United States Agency for International Development funded program in the 90’s and who recently ran candidates in UN-sponsored elections in Haiti. Among others fingered by Guy Philippe were Evans Paul of KID/Alyans, former senator Dany Toussaint of the MODEREH, Serges Gilles of PANPRA (note: FUSION currently) and Himmler Rébu of the GREH.

    On June 1, Haitian police spokesman Frantz Lerebours, announced that they had discovered a kilo of “a white substance resembling cocaine” after searching the residence of Wilfort Ferdinand. On July 16, DEA agents executed a dramatic raid against Philippe’s residence in the southern coastal town of Les Cayes and he has been on the run ever since.

    “It’s a good question of whether Philippe will actually be arrested,” responded a source close to UN intelligence operations in Haiti who asked not to be identified. “The other option is that he may end up in a third country in a quiet exile like Michel Francois,” he said in reference to a former police chief who led a military coup against Aristide in 1991. Francois was indicted by a Miami Grand Jury in 1997 for drug trafficking and currently resides in Honduras after that country’s Supreme Court refused to extradite him. The official continued, “It would take a complete change in current policy for him to be allowed to remain in Haiti without being arrested. But stranger things have happened.”

  3. jh

    Real reason for Haiti raid

    by John Yewell

    Monterey County Herald – There were new suggestions this week that a raid 10 days ago by Haiti’s police and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration may have been an attempt to silence one of the leaders of a 2004 coup that toppled Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide – a coup many believe was orchestrated by the United States.

    Guy Philippe, the target of the raid, avoided capture and is now in hiding. He has since been heard on Haitian radio claiming his attempted arrest was for political reasons.

    Between his alleged drug affiliations and human rights abuses, Philippe has few friends in the government of current Haitian President Rene Preval or in the United States. But according to a report this week by Kevin Pina, writing for the Haiti Information Project, there may be another explanation for the DEA grab.

    According to Pina, on May 27, after the arrest of Wilfort Ferdinand, another coup participant, Philippe went on Haitian radio and “began to name names of business and political leaders who backed the paramilitary insurgency against Aristide’s government by providing arms, ammunition and logistical support.”

    “High on (Philippe’s) list,” Pina continued, “was Andy Apaid, the leader of the civil society organization called the Group 184.”

    Seven weeks after Philippe’s radio broadcast, the DEA went after him.

    In July 2004, Salon reported that Group 184, along with a group called the Democratic Convergence, was supported by the International Republican Institute, dominated by Bush loyalists and funded by the National Endowment for Democracy, the U.S. Agency for International Development and conservative groups.

    Aristide’s supporters have long suspected American support in the overthrow of his democratically elected government. Now here is Philippe, a man they had vilified, pointing a finger that leads to the U.S. government.

    Salon quotes Thayer Scott, then communications director for the IRI, saying that the “IRI played an advisory role in Group of 184’s formation.” Hardliners in Group 184, Salon reported, “tapped Guy Philippe, a U.S.-trained former Haitian police chief with a dubious human rights record,” to lead a coup.

    The IRI’s liaison to the Haitian opposition was Stanley Lucas, who, according to the New York Times, was accused by U.S. Ambassador Dean Curran of undermining diplomatic efforts in Haiti. The IRI denies this.

    “Stanley Lucas was not IRI’s ‘point man in Haiti,'” said Lisa Gates, IRI press secretary, in an e-mail to The Herald. “In fact, IRI was not operating in Haiti during the time in question.”

    That’s not what the Bush administration was saying. During a Senate hearing on March 10, 2004, 10 days after Aristide’s overthrow, Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., asked Roger Noriega, then assistant secretary of state for the Western Hemisphere, about a USAID grant to the IRI that specifically limited Lucas’ activities.

    “The approval of the new grant was conditioned on the IRI (Haiti) director, Stanley Lucas, being barred from participating in this program for a period of time because the U.S. ambassador in Haiti had evidence that he was undermining U.S. efforts,” according to Salon. “Is that not true as well?” Dodd asked Noriega.

    “Yes, sir,” Noriega said.

    “Is Stanley Lucas still involved?” asked Dodd.

    “As far as I know, he is still part of the program,” Noriega replied.

    The connection between Lucas and Philippe is less clear. Philippe says they are old friends, and the Times suggests there is circumstantial evidence the two worked together. The IRI says the USAID investigated their alleged connection in 2004 and found “no evidence.”

    But USAID, which has international skeletons in its own closet, shares political sympathies with the IRI. Claiming it exonerates the IRI is a little like Bush’s 2000 election being certified by Katherine Harris, who was Florida’s secretary of state at the same time as she served as the co-chairwoman of Bush’s Florida campaign.

    Without question, Philippe and Lucas shared contacts among Aristide’s opponents, and Andy Apaid may have been the fulcrum. Within 24 hours of Apaid rejecting a political compromise with Aristide, according to Salon, Philippe launched his coup, which ended with the U.S. hustling Aristide out of the country against his will.

    And if Pina is right, Aristide’s opponents, including the IRI, might be plenty nervous with a talkative Philippe on the run.

    =========================================

    This commentary first appeared in the Monterey County Herald July 26, 2007

    article: http://www.montereyherald.com/johnyewell/ci_6466968?nclick_check=1

    John Yewell is The Herald’s night city editor.
    His column runs Thursdays. He can be reached at jyewell@montereyherald.com.

  4. jh

    Anyone remember Haiti?
    by Bill Fletcher Jr.
    Baltimore Times
    Originally posted 8/3/2007

    One of the most striking features of the mainstream US media is its ability to ‘disappear’ certain issues and stories irrespective of their importance.

    Case in point: Haiti. For all intents and purposes, Haiti has vanished from public view. With the notable exception of Randall Robinson’s new and well-received book, An Unbroken Agony: Haiti from Revolution to the Kidnapping of a President, there is almost nothing out there that would give one any sense of what has been happening in Haiti since the 2006 electoral victory of Rene Preval, let alone the developments that transpired during and after the February 29, 2004 US-assisted coup that overthrew democratically elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

    Unless one is studying the actual situation in Haiti, the most that the casual�and even interested�US observer would gather is that Haiti is in near continuous chaos. The information provided to us here in the USA is so weak and partial that one is inclined to throw one’s hands up in the air and proclaim that it is all too messy to understand.

    Yet, the situation is far more complicated than we have been led to believe. Most recently a story broke with the assistance of the Haiti Information Project (www.teledyol.net/HIP/about.html). Guy Philippe, one of the principal leaders of the coup against President Aristide, appears to have begun a new career singing: he has been ‘singing’ about the individuals and organizations that helped to back the 2004 coup against Aristide.

    Philippe, and his former aide Wilfort Ferdinand, alleged that they were currently being pressured to take up arms and overthrow the Preval administration. For whatever reason, Philippe went on to name names, including many prominent individuals from within the historic ruling elite of Haiti, as well as additional forces that had been involved in the supposed ‘peaceful’ opposition to President Aristide pre-February 2004.

    Interestingly enough, shortly after Philippe began to ‘sing,’ Haitian police and the US Drug Enforcement Administration apparently decided that Philippe was part of an illegal narcotics operation. They then moved to have him arrested. It appears that Philippe has been on the run ever since.

    There are several interesting things about this story. The first is that it starts to sound a lot like that of Panama’s former President Manual Noriega who, after being a very loyal US-paid operative, was turned upon by his former sponsors and illegally snatched from office in 1989. History definitely seems to repeat itself.

    The second piece of interest is that Philippe confirmed what many of us thought all along, i.e., that much of the alleged ‘peaceful opposition’ to President Aristide was nothing of the sort, but was rather one wing of a combined US-backed destabilization operation aimed at the ouster of the democratically elected chief of state.

    Once again the mainstream US media served the interests of the dominant forces in US foreign policy who seek the removal of any leader deemed to be the slightest bit independent and prone towards policies that the US finds objectionable. Rather than taking a critical eye towards events, the mainstream US media, when it came to Haiti, largely served as the mouthpiece of the Bush administration as it ratcheted up the pressure on Aristide, ultimately swooping him up and into a brief forced exile in the Central African Republic [Note: President and Mrs. Aristide currently reside in exile in South Africa, conditions far different-for the better-than those they encountered in the Central African Republic].

    The third piece takes us full circle. When US policy has been discredited, it is often easier for the mainstream US media to completely ignore the ‘facts on the ground.’ Thus, we get this �code of silence� over Haiti, which only the most dedicated observers (particularly within the Haitian exile community in the USA) are able to penetrate. Even then, with facts in hand, these voices are largely ignored.

    It is for these and other reasons that African-American media outlets, whether printed, radio, television or Internet, become so vital in revealing the truth.

    Haiti has not faded away. Rather the crimes that have been perpetrated against the people of Haiti, in our name, continue only with a veil of secrecy and indifference. The time has certainly come to rip away that veil.

    Bill Fletcher, Jr. is an international and labor writer and activist. He is the immediate past president of TransAfrica Forum and can be reached at papaq54@hotmail.com

  5. Thank you very much for posting these articles….

    Paul

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