[Marxism] Crushing Aristide: the Canadian connection

Raymond Chase r_chase at sympatico.ca
Thu Mar 4 12:27:28 MST 2004

I received this message from Yves Engler on Canadian complicity in the US
imposed regime change in Haiti.

Prime Minister Paul Martin's support for the American weaponisation of space
(Star Wars II) and now his lending Canadian Special Forces troops for the US
instigated removal of the democratically elected president of Haiti indicate
that the Martin's hidden agenda of 'deep integration' with the United States
is being put into effect.  A fundamental shift in Candian policy is taking
place while we the Canadian public sleep.

And lets stop deluding ourselves with the myth that the Canadian Armed
Forces are 'peacekeepers'.

Raymond Chase
Mt-St-Hilaire QC

----- Original Message ----- 
From: Yves Engler
Sent: Tuesday, March 02, 2004 11:19 PM
Subject: [blocktheempire] Why they had to crush Aristide

more haiti. in light of the impending coup in venezuela its important we be
vigilant towards our government. below is something i wrote and then from
the guardian
Does our new Prime Minister support democracy in the Americas or U.S.
orchestrated coups?
In his first major foreign policy move Paul Martin's government faithfully
followed the U.S. (and French) lead in removing the legally elected
president of Haiti, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, from power. Contrast this with
the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) whose chairperson, Jamaican Prime Minister
P.J. Patterson, said in a statement that CARICOM deplored  "the removal of
[Haitian] President Aristide " from office, as setting  "a dangerous
precedent for democratically-elected governments anywhere and everywhere."
In other words, Canada has sided with the two "colonial" powers with a
centuries-old tradition of meddling (to put it mildly) in Haitian affairs,
instead of with the Caribbean nations which have endured a shared history of
slavery and other forms of exploitation.
Three weeks into an armed insurrection that left the country in turmoil and
Aristide gone Martin said that he hoped  "all parties ...respect
constitutional order and the rule of law." Foreign Affairs Minister Bill
Graham did no better with his comment that a  "constitutional transition "
was underway.
The constitutional transition Mr. Graham refers to was a "coup" backed by
the revival of Haiti's military force that has always served the country's
tiny elite - less than two percent of the population holding at least half
the nation's wealth - and the most reactionary faction of the U.S. political
establishment. Whether President Aristide was actually kidnapped by U.S.
forces, as U.S. Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters alleged, or was just
presented with "an offer he couldn't refuse," there is no question that the
Bush administration played the decisive role in this regime change.
Let us connect the dots.
In 1990 Aristide overwhelmingly won Haiti's first democratic election. Since
he was a voice of the poor and oppressed, alarm bells went off among
right-wing U.S. politicians and the corporations they represent. Bush the
First immediately moved to undermine the new Haitian government by
withholding aid and supporting opposition groups. Nine months into his
mandate Aristide was ousted by General Raoul Cedras - backed by the CIA -
who instituted a military reign of terror that led to the death of more than
three thousand people, mostly supporters of Aristide.
The Organization of American States announced an embargo against the illegal
Haitian regime, which the U.S. promptly ignored. Not until the new Clinton
presidency did the U.S. restore Aristide to power - on condition that he
adopt the harsh neoliberal policies of the International Monetary Fund. One
of the IMF policies - the elimination of tariffs on rice - led to a massive
increase in subsidized U.S. rice exports that devastated Haitian rice
Still, in 2000 Aristide again won the presidency and his Lavalas party took
more than 80% of the local and parliamentary seats in legislative elections.
In several multi-candidate contests where Lavalas gained a plurality rather
than a majority of votes they should have faced a second round election.
Instead a few candidates simply took their seats. (Imagine an MP with a
plurality instead of an absolute majority!) In response the new Bush
administration (and others) froze foreign aid until new elections could be
agreed upon. This effectively gave the opposition a veto over international
aid. Even after the senators in question stepped aside, the opposition
continued to reject new elections because they knew they couldn't win at the
ballot box. And with the country cut off from bilateral and multilateral
financing Haiti's economy went into a tailspin, spurring political
The International Republican Institute, a Republican-Party backed arm of the
National Endowment for Democracy, gave the Haitian opposition political
parties three million dollars a year. A month ago "rebels" armed with
American-made weapons marched into the country from the Dominican Republic.
This unsavory lot of wanted murderers, former coup plotters and
narco-traffickers includes Emmanuel Constant who has already gone on record
saying that in the mid 1990s he was on the CIA payroll. Rebel leader Guy
Philippe was trained by the U.S. military as an army officer in Ecuador,
according to a report published Friday by Human Rights Watch. Already it's
been reported that Philippe has met with high-ranking members of the
political coalition that opposed Aristide and he's been seen around U.S.
Last week the Bush administration stepped up its pressure by undermining
Aristide's personal security when it blocked him from increasing his
bodyguard staff hired from the U.S.-based security firm, the Steele
Was there a coup and did Canada support it?
We do know Canadian troops were present at the airport when Aristide left
the country.
We do know Canada stood by and did nothing to support the legally elected
president of the country as he faced armed opposition. We do know right wing
American politicians are already touting Canada's complicity as
justification for U.S. policy in Haiti.
Unfortunately the evidence suggests Paul Martin has turned his back on
millions of Canadians who want this country to support and build real
democracy around the world. Instead, he has joined with right wing extremist
elements in the U.S. who tell the world 'it's our way or the highway."
yves engler recently finnished his first book, Playing Left Wing from hockey
to politics: The making of a student activist, studied Haitian history at
Concordia University
>Haiti's elected leader was regarded as a threat by France and the US
>Peter Hallward
>Tuesday March 2, 2004
>The Guardian
>Jean-Bertrand Aristide was re-elected president of Haiti in November
>2000 with more than 90% of the vote. He was elected by people who
>approved his courageous dissolution, in 1995, of the armed forces
>that had long terrorised Haiti and had overthrown his first
>administration. He was elected by people who supported his tentative
>efforts, made with virtually no resources or revenue, to invest in
>education and health. He was elected by people who shared his
>determination, in the face of crippling US opposition, to improve
>the conditions of the most poorly paid workers in the western
>Aristide was forced from office on Sunday by people who have little
>in common except their opposition to his progressive policies and
>their refusal of the democratic process. With the enthusiastic
>backing of Haiti's former colonial master, a leader elected with
>overwhelming popular support has been driven from office by a loose
>association of convicted human rights abusers, seditious former army
>officers and pro-American business leaders.
>It's obvious that Aristide's expulsion offered Jacques Chirac a
>long-awaited chance to restore relations with an American
>administration he dared to oppose over the attack on Iraq. It's even
>more obvious that the characterisation of Aristide as yet another
>crazed idealist corrupted by absolute power sits perfectly with the
>political vision championed by George Bush, and that the Haitian
>leader's downfall should open the door to a yet more ruthless
>exploitation of Latin American labour.
>If you've been reading the mainstream press over the past few weeks,
>you'll know that this peculiar version of events has been carefully
>prepared by repeated accusations that Aristide rigged fraudulent
>elections in 2000; unleashed violent militias against his political
>opponents; and brought Haiti's economy to the point of collapse and
>its people to the brink of humanitarian catastrophe.
>But look a little harder at those elections. An exhaustive and
>convincing report by the International Coalition of Independent
>Observers concluded that "fair and peaceful elections were held" in
>2000, and by the standard of the presidential elections held in the
>US that same year they were positively exemplary.
>Why then were they characterised as "flawed" by the Organisation of
>American States (OAS)? It was because, after Aristide's Lavalas
>party had won 16 out of 17 senate seats, the OAS contested the
>methodology used to calculate the voting percentages. Curiously,
>neither the US nor the OAS judged this methodology problematic in
>the run-up to the elections.
>However, in the wake of the Lavalas victories, it was suddenly
>important enough to justify driving the country towards economic
>collapse. Bill Clinton invoked the OAS accusation to justify the
>crippling economic embargo against Haiti that persists to this day,
>and which effectively blocks the payment of about $500m in
>international aid.
>But what about the gangs of Aristide supporters running riot in
>Port-au-Prince? No doubt Aristide bears some responsibility for the
>dozen reported deaths over the last 48 hours. But given that his
>supporters have no army to protect them, and given that the police
>force serving the entire country is just a tenth of the force that
>patrols New York city, it's worth remembering that this figure is a
>small fraction of the number killed by the rebels in recent weeks.
>One of the reasons why Aristide has been consistently vilified in
>the press is that the Reuters and AP wire services, on which most
>coverage depends, rely on local media, which are all owned by
>Aristide's opponents. Another, more important, reason for the
>vilification is that Aristide never learned to pander unreservedly
>to foreign commercial interests. He reluctantly accepted a series of
>severe IMF structural adjustment plans, to the dismay of the working
>poor, but he refused to acquiesce in the indiscriminate
>privatisation of state resources, and stuck to his guns over wages,
>education and health.
>What happened in Haiti is not that a leader who was once reasonable
>went mad with power; the truth is that a broadly consistent Aristide
>was never quite prepared to abandon all his principles.
>Worst of all, he remained indelibly associated with what's left of a
>genuine popular movement for political and economic empowerment. For
>this reason alone, it was essential that he not only be forced from
>office but utterly discredited in the eyes of his people and the
>world. As Noam Chomsky has said, the "threat of a good example"
>solicits measures of retaliation that bear no relation to the
>strategic or economic importance of the country in question. This is
>why the leaders of the world have joined together to crush a
>democracy in the name of democracy.
>· Peter Hallward teaches French at King's College London and is the
>author of Absolutely Postcolonial
>peter.hallward at kcl.ac.uk

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