"Justice. Verite. Independance."
* THIS WEEK IN HAITI *
February 18 - 24, 2009
Vol. 2, No. 31
In the early morning hours of Feb. 29, 2004, U.S. Special Forces took Haiti's President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and his wife Mildred from their home in Tabarre and loaded them onto an unmarked U.S. jet already waiting at the Port-au-Prince airport. The U.S. troops then flew Aristide into exile in Africa, where he remains to this day, five years later.
Thus unfolded one of the Bush Administration's few successes: the forcible overthrow of an elected government, disguised and recorded in the mainstream press as a mass uprising against an unpopular would-be dictator.
The majority of the Haitian people were not duped. They suspected the collaboration of the Dominican-based Haitian "rebels" led by former soldiers Guy Philippe and Jodel Chamblain with the National Endowment for Democracy-spawned "civil opposition" front known as the "Group of 184," headed by assembly factory owners Andy Apaid and Charles Henri Baker. In recent years, proof of that collusion was made public as the putschist alliance, like the government they cobbled together, fell apart.
The whole sordid endeavor was underwritten and militarily facilitated by the U.S., France and Canada, each power having important economic and political interests in Haiti.
On the coup's fifth anniversary, demonstrations, masses, conferences and vigils will be held in many quadrants of Haiti's far-flung diaspora. In BROOKLYN, the Lavalas Family party has called for a mass on Saturday, Feb. 28 at 7 p.m. at Holy Innocent Church at the corner of Beverly Road and E. 17th Street in the heart of New York City's Little Haiti. In FLORIDA, on the same day from 3 to 6 p.m., the Florida Immigration Coalition will sponsor a rally to demand Temporary Protected Status for undocumented Haitian immigrants in the U.S. The rally will be held at the Broward Transitional Center, 3900 N. Powerline Road in Pompano Beach, FL.
Perhaps the most ambitious commemorative event is the OTTAWA INITIATIVE ON HAITI 2009, a one-day conference to analyze the 2004 coup, with special attention to Canada's role. The Feb. 28th conference will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the University of Ottawa's Alumni Theatre at 85 University (Jock-Turcot Building). The event will also address what roles Canada, the U.S. and the Haitian diaspora might play in Haiti today. Some of the speakers invited include author Edwidge Danticat, political activist Patrick Elie, economists Camille Chalmers and Kesner Pharel, and Ottawa-based Haitian activists Raymond Dubuisson and Jean Saint-Vil. Peter Hallward, author of "Damming the Flood: Haiti, Aristide and the Politics of Containment," and Michel Chossudovsky, director of the Centre for Research on Globalization and Economics Professor, will also attend.
Central to the organization of the Ottawa Initiative is the Canada Haiti Action Network (CHAN), a vibrant and effective nationwide coalition of Canadian groups and individuals which formed during the 2004-2006 coup. CHAN issued a statement on Jan. 24, 2009 which succinctly summarizes Haiti's situation today. The organization also makes five demands, including a call to investigate the coup and ensuing massacres by occupation troops. We close with that statement.
FOREIGN OCCUPATION TROOPS OUT OF HAITI!
FREEDOM AND JUSTICE FOR HAITI!
Statement by the Canada Haiti Action Network, on the fifth anniversary of the overthrow of elected government in Haiti.
This February, the Haitian people will commemorate the fifth anniversary of a seminal date in their long and proud history. But it won't be a celebration. They will mobilize in angry protests to condemn the overthrow of the elected government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide on February 29, 2004. They will also condemn the decades of foreign domination that has brought the country to ruin; made all the worse since 2004.
The illegal coup of 2004 has had an extremely negative impact on Haiti's social fabric - breakdown in government services, including education and health care; increased poverty; decline of agricultural production; increased violence by pro-coup gangs and by foreign military forces and the Haitian National Police; an increase in emigration of educated Haitians; and heightened tensions within families as a result of all of the above.
Haiti's crippled economy was dealt further blows when a series of hurricanes struck the island last summer. Several thousand died and agricultural production was dealt a heavy blow. The city of Gonaives, the fourth largest in Haiti, still lies under several feet of dried, rock-hard mud.
Some $100 million was pledged by foreign governments in relief following the storms. Almost nothing has been received. This follows the pattern of the past five years whereby the United Nations and participating countries have spent hundreds of millions of dollars each year on their 9,000-member military mission while spending next to nothing on social and economic development.
Canada supported the overthrow of the government of President Aristide and thousands of other elected officials in 2004. Troops from the U.S., France and Canada joined with Haitian rightists to consolidate that illegal act. The three big powers got a stamp of approval from the United Nations Security Council. An appointed regime of human rights violators ruled Haiti from 2004 to 2006 and ran the country into the ground.
Today, a 9,000-member foreign police and military force, including the aforementioned Big Three, patrols the country with the endorsement of the UN Security Council. These powers have a preponderant role in the financing of the Haitian government and thus in its policy decisions.
The Canadian government and its Canadian International Development Agency say they are providing $110 million per year to assist Haiti. But little of that money reaches ordinary Haitians. Most of it is used to prop up institutions of foreign domination, including NGOs and propaganda agencies that supported, or were silent in the aftermath of, the 2004 coup.
Political persecutions dating from the 2004 coup are continuing. These include:
Ronald Dauphin, still imprisoned after five years.
Political rights leader Lovinsky Pierre Antoine who was "disappeared" on August 12, 2007 and whose whereabouts remain unknown. Incredibly, his case was not even mentioned in the 2007 report of the United Nations Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances.
One of the ideological pillars of the 2004 overthrow in Haiti was the doctrine of "Responsibility to Protect." The doctrine is increasingly used today to justify military intervention against many of the world's poorer countries - from Venezuela and Cuba to Sudan and Zimbabwe. Thus, the lessons of Haiti have an added importance for the world's people.
Haitians are fighting to retake the sovereignty of their country. Just one month ago, on December 16, tens of thousands marched and rallied in Port au Prince and in other cities across Haiti to reaffirm their opposition to foreign occupation.
The Canada Haiti Action Network will hold public events in at least seven cities across Canada to commemorate the 2004 coup d'etat in Haiti, featuring speakers or films. In late March, we are sponsoring a delegation of trade union activists to Haiti for one week. We continue to assist in sending medical supplies to health providers. We invite you and your organization to join us at anniversary events - become a co-sponsor. Join us in the work of our projects. We encourage local and national media to join us in examining the conditions in Haiti today.
1) Reparations to the Haitian people for all the damage of the past five years caused by foreign occupation.
2) An investigation of the raids by United Nations military forces into Cité Soleil on July 6, 2005 and December 22, 2006. The UN stands accused by residents of "massacres" that cost dozens of lives. To date, not a single international human rights group has undertaken a serious investigation of the community's allegations.
3) Free all political prisoners, including Ronald Dauphin. End the grisly overcrowding in Haiti's prisons.
4) The United Nations Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) must conduct an independent investigation into the disappearance of Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine.
5) An independent inquiry into Canada's role in the overthrow of Haiti's elected government in 2004. This inquiry must release the full documentation of the "Ottawa Initiative on Haiti" meeting held in Meech Lake, Quebec on Jan 31 - Feb 1, 2003 that sketched plans for the overthrow of Haiti's government. It must conduct a comprehensive assessment of Canada's aid programs in Haiti, including the extensive involvement in Haiti's persistently dysfunctional justice system and national police service.
For the Canada Haiti Action Network and its local chapters,
Roger Annis, Vancouver 778 858 5179
Chris Semrick, Nanaimo 250 616 7009
Regan Boychuk, Calgary 403-479-8637
Macho Philipovich, Wpg 204 783 2571
Niraj Joshi, Toronto 416 731 2325
Stuart Neatby, Ottawa 613 293 9480
Nik Barry Shaw, Montreal 514 225 5984
Tracy Glynn, Fredericton 506 458 8747
For information on the web, including activities in cities across Canada: http://canadahaitiaction.ca/
For an in-depth look at the "Responsibility to Protect" doctrine: http://canadahaitiaction.ca/?p=341
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