Category Archives: Haiti

Recognizing Lies about Latin America: Seven Tips

Headlines from two major Venezuelan newspapers (Photo Credit:  Laura Wells)

Even when we’re being lied to by almost every available source across the media and political spectrum, we can still become better lie detectors.

A focus on lies about Latin America is important because we do care about how the US treats other people, and we also need hope that things can improve in the US, in healthcare, housing, education, justice, the arts, and in the whole system of democracy. Some Latin American countries are lied about a lot, not because of oil, but because they represent to the powers-that-be what Noam Chomsky calls the “threat of a good example.” To the rest of us, they can represent the “hope of a good example.” Life can actually improve when governments are on the side of regular people.

Here are seven tips for recognizing when you’re probably being lied to. We need basic guidelines because we can never do enough research, or check enough sources, or click enough links.

(1) Words like dictator, authoritarian, regime, strong-man, and tyrant are used to describe the non-US-aligned governments, whereas for US allies the words are straightforward: president, leader, administration.

On the last day of a trip to Venezuela, I remembered to take a photo of two major newspapers. The headlines demonstrate the lie that Hugo Chavez supposedly suppressed “freedom of press.” Would a dictator allow major newspapers to shout out DICTADOR in all-caps on the front page? Character assassination is a mainstay of media and government lies, whether the story is about non-aligned Latin American presidents, or whistleblowers, or other truth-tellers and activists.

(2) Sanctions have been imposed on the country. Media and politicians do not mention sanctions, however, when the nation is described as a “failed state” or a “broken socialist state.” The UN charter prohibits these “unilateral coercive measures.” Of the more than 30 nations suffering under some form of sanctions by the US, the ones south of the border are Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Haiti, in other words, Trump’s “Troika of Tyranny” plus Haiti. Significantly, in 1804 Haiti became the only state in history ever established by a successful slave revolt.

If a nation is on this sanctions list, (which is not totally up-to-date), there is good reason to doubt the truth of any stories heard from media and the US government. Sanctions have a huge effect on a nation’s ability to maintain their infrastructure, benefit from tourism, and even to feed their people and obtain medicines. These coercive measures have been especially criminal during the COVID-19 pandemic.

End US sanctions and other foreign interference, and then talk about how well sovereign nations address their own problems.

(3) Fraud is alleged when presidents are — or might be — elected who are not the first choice of the US. And “US” in this case means the military-industrial-financial-congressional-prison-pharmaceutical-media-complex, not regular folks in the US. Who lives in fear of Venezuela? Is Venezuela an “unusual and extraordinary threat” to the national security of the US, as declared by Obama in 2015 and ramped up by Trump afterward?

“Fraud” in elections is easily alleged, often in advance of the elections, and then widely repeated, which allows future reports to say “widely perceived as fraudulent.” No evidence is used to back up the claims, and, in fact, evidence countering the allegations of fraud is ignored.

(4) The country is accused of human rights abuses, while other countries with much worse records are not targeted. Modern day “soft coups” are replacing the disfavored military coups, are very complex to unravel, and are very effective. Because reports of human rights abuses are often from credible sources, it’s hard to disbelieve them — unless one happens to be a Latin American organizer or journalist in a targeted country. They can see clearly it is not just the CIA, DEA, NED, IMF or OAS; there are a slew of other acronyms and organizations that are causing them problems. The best tip is to “consider the source” — consider if the organizations are based in and funded by the US and Europe, the imperialist and colonial powers of recent centuries.

“Soft coups” work much like character assassination. The accusations aim for the soft spots in our hearts, such as the treatment of women, indigenous, and the environment, and the good old standby of anti-corruption. Even insignificant and unsubstantiated accusations work. An old-fashioned coup d’etat was about sending in the Marines and training the Contras. The new soft coups send in “student protesters”, the judiciary, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

The hypocrisy is extreme. Can anyone believe US policy is the gold standard on the environment, workers rights, elections and democracy (two recent US presidents have taken office after they lost the popular vote), human rights, gender equality and indigenous rights?

(5) The country has no US military bases. This tip is tricky, because it is difficult to get a definitive list of US military bases around the world. The more sources you check the more confused you become. The “Troika of Tyranny” nations Venezuela and Nicaragua do not have US bases, although the neighboring countries certainly do. And Guantanamo in Cuba has still not been shut down. This source, describes a “temporary” base, which means it doesn’t count as a base, in Honduras since 1982.

(6) Officials and supporters of the non-aligned governments are rarely quoted. The opposition and their privately-owned media are treated as the only sources needed.

(7) Media outlets and politicians cannot afford to tell the whole truth. This is the saddest tip. If politicians and media are too far “out in left field,” they will lose their funding, especially if they rely on corporate donations or advertising, but even if they are corporate-free. In addition to funding, politicians and media risk losing their credibility and their more moderate supporters if they go too far with uncomfortable truths. Their survival is safer if they only aim to be “better than” the others. PBS, for example, is considered to be “very liberal” and yet citizens of Venezuela and Nicaragua can easily see the PBS bias against them. After reading stories about Venezuela, here is a valuable English language website that gives a fuller context, and it even includes internal critiques.

There are many examples. Journalists Chris Hedges and Glenn Greenwald worked for the “liberal” newspapers New York Times and Britain’s Guardian, respectively, until their investigative journalism became impossible within mainstream media. The US is now pulling out all the stops, including character assassination, to punish Julian Assange for publishing documents that laid bare truths we were not supposed to know. Sadly, the major newspapers that have used Wikileaks material are not defending Assange’s right to journalistic freedom.

As an example involving Nicaragua, journalist Gary Webb ran into trouble when he investigated the CIA’s role in the 1980s in getting crack cocaine to the black neighborhoods of Los Angeles to get money and weapons to the Contras to fight against the Sandinistas. And so it goes.

*****

The countries and their leaders are not perfect. They are, however, sovereign nations, and the people of those nations will be much better off when the US honors the UN charter, and stops the economic, military, and information wars against them. As to Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela, the people and their leaders are aiming toward benefits for regular folks, rather than benefits for the oligarchs of their country and the world. The better we are at telling when we’re being lied to, the easier it will be to achieve success in that huge challenge. We can be inspired by the “power of a good example.” Rather than continue having our expectations for ourselves and our children be diminished, we can find reasons to allow our expectations to rise.

The post Recognizing Lies about Latin America: Seven Tips first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Over 800 Organizations and Individuals in the United States Demand the Biden Administration End Its Support for the Brutal Moïse Regime in Haiti

Above photo: By Professor Danny Shaw who is currently in Haiti

United States – Today, February 24, 72 organizations and 700 individuals published an open letter calling for the Biden administration to end its illegal and destructive intervention in Haiti. While Joe Biden and the Democrats condemned the Trump forces for not respecting the results of the U.S. election, they are supporting Jovenel Moïse’s refusal to leave office after his term as president ended on February 7, 2021. Moïse has unleashed violent gangs, the police and the military against protesters who are demanding that he respect the Constitution and step down.

“President Biden claims to care about racial equity but his actions in Haiti show the emptiness of that rhetoric,” said Ajamu Baraka of the Black Alliance for Peace. “For centuries now, the United States has employed force to dominate Haiti, the first Black Republic that was established in 1804 after the defeat of French and Spanish colonizers. President Biden has an opportunity to demonstrate his commitment to democracy and Black self-determination by ending support for the Moïse regime and denouncing the current violence.”

The past two presidents of Haiti, Michel Martelly and Jovenel Moïse, were hand-picked and forced into office by the United States during the Obama administration against the will of the Haitian people. Moïse is currently ruling by decree after dismissing most of the legislators and refusing to hold elections. With the backing of the Core Group, composed of the United States, Canada, Brazil, France, Germany, Spain, the European Union and the United Nations, Moïse is trying to push a new constitution through using a referendum in April. The new constitution being written by members of the Core Group and without any real participation of the Haitian people would grant greater power to the executive office.

Since February 7, the rogue Moïse government has launched a brutal crackdown on all dissent resulting in home invasions, arrests, the firing of Supreme Court judges and a police inspector general, attacks on the media and the use of chemical agents and live ammunition to disperse protests, as documented by the U. S. Human Rights Clinics.

“The current situation in Haiti is critical,” stated Marleine Bastien, the Executive Director of the FANM In Action and a leading voice in South Florida’s Haitian community. “The Superior Council of Haiti’s Judiciary, The Haitian Bar Federation, and credible civil society organizations inside Haiti and their diaspora allies agree that President Moise’s term has in fact ended.  It is time for President Biden to keep his promise and respect the democratic rights and  self-determination of the Haitian people.”

Here is the open letter:

On February 7, 2021, Jovenel Moïse’s term as president of Haiti ended – but with the support of the Biden administration he is refusing to leave office. This has created an urgent crisis in the country. A mass movement, reminiscent of the 1986 popular movement that overthrew the brutal U.S.-sponsored dictatorship of Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, is demanding Moïse step down. We are alarmed by the abundance of evidence of severe human rights violations by the Moïse regime to quell the protests.

One of the main calls from the mobilizations of hundreds of thousands in the streets of Port-au-Prince and across Haiti has been for the United States, United Nations and the Organization of American States to stop their interference. These bodies, as part of the “Core Group” of imperialist nations and institutions targeting Haiti, are currently pushing their rewrite of the Haitian Constitution through a referendum on April 25.

These organizations have a long history of neocolonial intervention in Haiti and the region. Ever since the democratically elected president Jean Bertrand Aristide was overthrown for a second time by a U.S.-sponsored coup in 2004, Haiti has been occupied by a United Nations force that, at its height, deployed 14,000 troops and personnel. This occupation has changed form over the years (from MINUSTAH to BINUH), but it is ongoing.

The U.S. government has consistently stood as a barrier to popular democracy in the Americas. The 2009 coup in Honduras; the 2019 coup in Bolivia; and the ongoing blockades of Nicaragua, Cuba and Venezuela are but several examples of the U.S.’s poor record on human rights and lack of respect for sovereignty in the region. By its own admission, the State Department “works closely with the OAS, UN, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and individual countries to advance its policy goals in Haiti.” Under the guise of fighting drug trafficking, the U.S. continues to train and fund the Haitian National Police.

The U.S. establishment spin doctors seemingly live in an alternate universe, claiming, “The remarkable lack of popular response to calls for mass protests in recent weeks indicates that Haitian people are tired of endless lockdowns and squabbling over power.” The reality is quite the opposite: the Haitian people are united in their call for a peaceful transition to democracy.

We express our solidarity with the Haitian people and our support for their rights to democracy and self-determination. We join our voices to the demands of the Haitian people who are calling for the following:

We demand that Jovenel Moïse

  • Immediately step down.

We demand that the Biden Administration:

  • Withdraw financial support for the illegal constitutional referendum and Moïse dictatorship;
  • Respect the will of the vast majority of the people demanding democracy and Haitian self-determination
  • Reaffirm support for the right to peaceful protest;
  • Immediately cease all U.S. financial and military support to Haiti’s security forces
  • Condemn the recent violence against protesters and journalists; and,
  • Demand the immediate dismantlement of all paramilitary forces in Haiti and the disarmament of gangs carrying out wanton violence against the popular movement.

The whole world is watching!

See here for signatories.

*****

Contacts:

Ajamu Baraka – Black Alliance for Peace, 202-643-1136.

Margaret Flowers – Popular Resistance, gro.ecnatsiseRralupoPnull@ofni, 410-591-0892.

The post Over 800 Organizations and Individuals in the United States Demand the Biden Administration End Its Support for the Brutal Moïse Regime in Haiti first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Haitian Official stashes Wealth in Montréal

Recent media reports of a Haitian official stashing wealth in Montréal property ignore a key element of the story: Canada’s contribution to enabling Haitian corruption.

As a neo-Duvalierist regime becomes ever more dictatorial it’s also worth revisiting Canada’s history in facilitating fraud and money laundering in the hemisphere’s most impoverished nation.

Recently La Presse reported that the wife of a governing party senator, who works at the Haitian consulate in Montréal, purchased a mansion in Laval. The story reported, “as the political crisis bogs down in Haiti, the wife of a senator belonging to the party of the contested president, Jovenel Moïse, has just bought a sumptuous $ 4.25 million villa in Laval, attracting a flood of criticism from Montreal to Port-au-Prince. The new property was paid off in full in one fell swoop, without a mortgage, and without their other house being sold, according to the Land Registry.” Two follow-up Journal de Montréal stories found that Senator Rony Célestin and his spouse, Marie-Louisa Célestin, spent $2 million more recently on property and businesses in the Montréal area.

La Presse’s Vincent Larouche should be praised for covering a story that had been circulating in Montréal’s Haitian community for days. But, a lot of important context is missing from the story, as Larouche must know. (15 years ago, Larouche wrote a nice review of my co-authored book on Canada’s role in the 2004 coup when he was with left-wing L’autre Journal). Senator Célestin was implicated in the 2019 killing of journalist Néhémie Joseph and threats targeting the Director General of the Anti-Corruption Unit. More broadly, Célestin’s political party was founded by corrupt and violent Duvalierist Michel Martelly.

But the broader Canadian angle is the most important omission. On Facebook, activist Jean “Jafrikayiti” Saint-Vil explained: “The PHTK regime headed by Michel Martelly and his self-described ‘bandi legal’ (legal bandits), came to power thanks to fraudulent elections organized, financed and controlled by the foreign occupation force established in Haiti since the coup d’état of February 2004. The planning meeting for the coup d’etat and putting Haiti under trusteeship was organized by Canadian Minister for La Francophonie Denis Paradis. The Ottawa Initiative on Haiti [January 31-February 1, 2003] succeeded in overthrowing the legitimate President as well as 7,000 elected officials from the region’s most impoverished country. The elected officials were replaced by bandits such as ‘Senator’ Rony Célestin of whom this article speaks.”

In a follow-up post Saint-Vil offers an alternative way of understanding Canada’s relationship to political corruption in Haiti. He asks, “Can you imagine [Hells Angels leader] Maurice ‘Mom’ Boucher and [serial killer] Carla Homolka installed as Senators in Canada by fraudulent elections led by a coalition of Haitian, Jamaican, Ethiopian diplomats in Ottawa?”

Few Canadians would be happy with such an outcome. But it’s a troublingly apt description of US, Canadian and French policy in Haiti.

This is not the first time Canada has been implicated in Duvalierist corruption. Before fleeing to the French Riviera, Jean-Claude ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier emptied government bank accounts. The Royal Bank of Canada and other Canadian financial institutions assisted the young dictator’s theft. A US auditing firm hired to investigate and track down public funds concluded that Duvalier’s financial advisors “had set up an intricately concealed flow of money through a bevy of banks and accounts, most of them Canadian.”

The Royal Bank of Canada branch in Haiti assisted Duvalier. So did a Toronto branch of the bank. In Money on the Run: Canada and How the World’s Dirty Profits Are Laundered, Mario Possamai details Duvalier’s turn to Canadian institutions when Swiss banks froze Baby Doc’s accounts. At a Royal Bank branch in Toronto his attorneys converted $41.8 million in Canadian treasury bills, a highly secretive and respected form of money. Once converted, the Duvaliers’ assets could no longer be scrutinized.

In Canada: A New Tax Haven: How the Country That Shaped Caribbean Tax Havens Is Becoming One Itself Alain Deneault summarizes: “The dictator’s money was moved from Canada to Jersey [tax haven] where it was received by the Royal Trust Bank, a subsidiary of Canada’s Royal Trust Company. The deposit was made to an account that was part of a larger account held by the Manufacturers Hanover Bank of Canada, a financial institution with its headquarters in Toronto a few steps away from the Royal Bank of Canada where the whole operation had been set in motion. The operation became more complex with securities being split from their ownership records and further movements between the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank in Jersey, the Royal Bank of Canada in London, the Banque Nationale de Paris, and sundry Swiss institutions.”

Despite guidelines requiring banks to determine customers’ identity, RBC admitted it simply trusted Duvalier’s lawyers. Bank officials later claimed they would have refused the transaction had they known who the beneficiaries were.

This explanation is hard to believe. The only foreign bank in the country for a number of years, the Royal Bank financed projects by the Duvalier regime. Amidst the uprising against Jean-Claude Duvalier, Royal’s senior account manager in Port au Prince, Yves Bourjolly, joined a long list of prominent businessmen who signed a statement expressing “confidence in the desire of the government for peace, dialogue and democratization … at a time when order and security appear to be threatened.”

Over the years Canada has empowered many other corrupt and violent politicians in Haiti. In response to the Célestin story, intrepid tweeter “Madame Boukman — Justice 4 Haiti” noted, “Justin ‘Blackface’ Trudeau, like those before him, knowingly supports drug traffickers, money-launderers and assassins in Haiti. That is the only way Canadian mining vultures can loot Haiti’s massive gold reserves.”

This about sums it up.

On February 28 the Canadian Foreign Policy Institute is hosting a discussion of Haiti Betrayed, a powerful indictment of Canada’s role in the 2004 coup and subsequent policy in the country. In the week leading up to the event the film will be available to watch for free for those who register in advance.

The post Haitian Official stashes Wealth in Montréal first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Urgent Solidarity with Haiti is Needed

A long-brewing crisis in Haiti, created through intervention by the United States, United Nations and allied western imperialist countries, has now come to a head. The Biden administration is openly backing a violent, corrupt and fraudulent leader, Jovenel Moïse, and maintaining the policies of previous presidents, including Donald Trump, in Haiti.

Activists in Haiti have reached out to the Haitian diaspora in the United States and to organizations that support respect for self-determination and human rights for their solidarity. Listen to my interview about the situation there with Haitian filmmaker and political activist Wilkenson Bruna on Clearing the FOG this week (available on Monday).

The crisis in Haiti will not end until sufficient pressure is placed on the United States to change its positions. As people living in the United States, that is our responsibility. We need to understand what is happening in Haiti, the roots of the crisis and how to take action. As the Black Alliance for Peace writes:

With the election of U.S. President Joe Biden, folks believed this so-called ‘champion’ of fair elections and the rule of law—who had expressed a commitment that ‘Black Lives Matter’—would rally to the side of Haitians and end U.S. support for the dictatorship. But that did not happen.

Today, there are protests in Haiti calling for Jovenel Moïse to step down. You can follow the protests using the hashtag #NouPapDomi (“We will not sleep.”). Take a photo of yourself holding a sign of solidarity with the people of Haiti and share it on social media to raise awareness of what is happening.

Gray Panthers, San Francisco

It was one week ago today that Jovenel Moïse’s term as president of Haiti ended, a presidency achieved through manipulation of the election in 2015-16 and marked by a usurpation of power. Moïse has refused to cede that power and in response to protests, has unleashed greater state violence, harassment and arrests including attacks on journalists.

Leading up to February 7, there were massive protests in Haiti calling for Moïse to respect the Haitian Constitution and step down so that a provisional government could be put in place and elections could be organized. These protests were led by a broad coalition of social movements, trade unions, and opposition political parties. The Haitian Supreme Court and Bar Association agree that Moïse’s five year term ends this year while Moïse claims he has one more year. The Biden State Department backed Moïse’s claim.

On February 7, Moïse announced that a coup was being conducted against him and ordered arrests of people who oppose him. Police raided the homes of a Supreme Court judge and the Inspector General and jailed them. The next day, Moïse fired three Supreme Court judges and police took control of the courts. He then illegally appointed three new judges. In protest, judges are launching a nationwide unlimited strike on February 15. International bodies, such as the Canadian Lawyers Without Borders, denounced Moïse’s assault on the judiciary.

Violence against people who oppose the Moïse dictatorship has been increasing and severe during his term. The “Group of 9,” basically a group of state-sanctioned gangs, have massacred people in opposition communities. Recently, both the police and the military, trained in repressive techniques by the United States, have attacked and arrested demonstrators and the media, even using live ammunition. Two journalists were shot covering protests on February 8.

On February 12, Supreme Court Judge Joseph Mécène Jean Louis publicly announced that he had been chosen by the opposition as a provisional president. He is one of the three Supreme Court judges fired by Moïse. Mécène plans to set up an interim government and call for elections.

In addition to president, there need to be electi0ns for the Parliament and municipal offices. Moïse refused to hold parliamentary elections when they were due in 2019 and dismissed most members of the legislature. He has been ruling by decree, essentially a dictatorship, since early 2020. He also dismissed mayors across the country and appointed replacements for them.

In another attack on democracy, Moïse is working with what is known as the “Core Group,” which includes the United Nations, the Organization of American States, the US, Brazil, France, Spain and the European Union, to rewrite the Haitian Constitution and grant greater powers to the executive office. Haiti has had 23 Constitutions since 1801.

Protesters marched to the UN headquarters in Port-au-Prince. Ted’Actu

The United States has had a hand in Haitian politics for a long time. In this century, it was in 2004 that the United States and its imperialist allies conducted a successful coup against President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and brought in the United Nations as an occupying force. In the short time that it was in power, the Aristide government built schools and health centers and raised the minimum wage. It also disbanded the military and started investigating accusations of state violence. Life was improving for Haitians.

Under the United Nations occupation, conditions have deteriorated. There have been massacres. UN troops have been involved in human trade and sexual exploitation and they brought cholera to the country, which has killed tens of thousands of people.

The Clintons have also played a destructive role in Haiti, both through the Clinton Foundation and Hillary Clinton’s interventions as Secretary of State under President Obama. It was the Clintons who succeeded in thwarting the will of the people in the 2010 presidential election by installing the US-backed candidate, Michel Martelly, in what was considered a “silent coup d’etat“. Millions of US dollars poured in to support Martelly’s campaign in an election that occurred after the massive earthquake of 2010 and in which the most popular party, Fanma Lavalas, of former President Aristide was banned. Only about one-fourth of registered voters participated, which is highly unusual.

In the following years, billions of dollars of aid poured into the country but there was little to show for it. Instead, deals were given to businesses owned by Clinton Foundation donors to build factories that are sweatshops. Jake Johnson outlines what followed the earthquake by the numbers. Less than one percent of the money that was pledged went to the Haitian government or to Haitian institutions or businesses. While 105,000 houses were destroyed, the Red Cross, which raised almost $500 million, only  built six houses and USAID, which pledged to build 15,000 houses, only built 900.

Jovenel Moïse, another US-puppet, came to power after Martelly’s term in a fraudulent election in 2015. His presidency was delayed by protests over that election because the people were unwilling to concede another assault on their democracy, but ultimately Moïse prevailed and was seated on February 7, 2017. Protests have continued throughout his term, especially when it was revealed that billions of dollars provided through Venezuela’s PetroCaribe program that were supposed to be used for infrastructure were missing. Now, his term has ended.

Haitian activists and immigrants protest on City Hall Plaza in Boston. 2018. Charles Krupa/AP.

It is no surprise that the Biden administration is carrying on with the US’ bipartisan imperialist project in Haiti but now the situation is dire. Jovenel Moïse has dismantled the democratic institutions of the state and rules unilaterally with the support of the police, military and western allies. Opposition to this is being brutally repressed. We, in the United States, a country largely responsible for the devastation of Haiti, must act in response to the request for our support.

The Haiti Action Committee has an action alert with information about contacting Congress. Click here for that alert. Share the alert with your networks. Haitians are protesting today – follow and share their actions too.

Leaders of peace and Haitian solidarity organizations in the United States are planning actions in support of the self-determination of the Haitian people and in opposition to western imperialism. Demands include ending US support for Jovenel Moïse, ending US interference in Haiti’s elections, and denouncing violence and repression.

President Biden claims to care about racial injustice. He must be pressured to demonstrate that with concrete actions. The United States government must respect the people’s will in our close neighbor, Haiti. Look for more to come on this soon.

The post Urgent Solidarity with Haiti is Needed first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Will any MPs criticize Ottawa’s Support for Dictatorship in Haiti?

The Liberals’ commitment to a neo-Duvalierist dictatorship in Haiti is being tested. Hopefully Black History Month offers opposition parties an opportunity to finally echo growing grassroots criticism of Canadian policy in the hemisphere’s poorest country.

Since Monday a squatter has been occupying the presidential palace in Port-au-Prince. On Sunday evening Supreme Court Justice Joseph Mecene Jean-Louis was appointed provisional interim President of Haiti by the opposition parties that say Jovenel Moïse’s mandate is over as the constitution states. But, Moïse has refused to leave, claiming another year on his mandate. He responded by arresting one Supreme Court judge and (unconstitutionally) dismissing three judges as well as sending police to occupy the Supreme Court building.

Moïse has been preparing for this moment for some time. In November he passed a decree criminalizing protests as “terrorism” and another establishing a new intelligence agency while in the summer he instigated a gang alliance to instill fear in the slums. Three months ago Moïse appointed Leon Charles head of the police. The former military man oversaw the police in the 17 months after the 2004 US, France and Canada sponsored coup. At that time Charles publicly referred to a “war” the police waged against the pro-democracy sector. Thousands were killed in political violence after the overthrow of elected President Jean Bertrand Aristide.

Once again Ottawa appears to be backing Charles and a new war on civilians. A few weeks ago (Jan. 18) Canadian ambassador Stuart Savage met Charles to discuss “reinvigorating the police”. A few weeks earlier Savage met Moïse in another sign of the Liberals’ extensive support for the president.

Moïse has also built up the dreaded military revived by his patron, former president Michel Martelly. On Monday the military released a statement backing Moïse in the constitutional dispute and then proceeded to shoot two journalists at a protest, gravely injuring one.

There’s been push back in Canada to Justin Trudeau’s backing of Moïse’s authoritarianism. On Sunday 40 socially distanced demonstrators attended Solidarité Québec-Haïti’s “Rara” musical rally in Montréal against Canadian policy in Haiti and hundreds participated in its nighttime webinar titled “Non au retour du duvaliérisme soutenu par le Canada en Haïti!” Over the past week more than 300 individuals have emailed new Foreign Minister Marc Garneau (and all MPs) to call on Ottawa to “Stop Supporting the Return of Duvalierism in Haiti!”

On the weekend Le Regroupement des Haïtiens de Montréal contre l’Occupation d’Haïti released a statement declaring “No Canadian government support for the dictatorship in Haiti”. Additionally, the Concertation Pour Haïti, which includes Quebec’s major labour unions and a number of government-funded NGOs, demanded Canada “cease all support” for Moïse’s government, “which is increasingly criticized and denounced for its involvement in massacres and violence aimed at establishing a climate of terror, at destroying the opposition and at preventing the emergence of a real alternative.” The Concertation statement added that Ottawa should “cease all forms of support for the illegitimate electoral process and for the constitutional reform project that the authorities want to put in place, a process that does not respect the standards of independence required to establish the legitimacy of a government. The presidency, having failed to organize legislative elections provided for by the Constitution, now governs by decree, holding all the powers on its own.”

In the US, Senior Senator Patrick Leahy and seven congresspeople called on the Biden administration to back a transition government. The congresspeople’s statement last week noted, “we feel it is essential that the United States unambiguously reject any attempt by President Moïse to retain power.”

In December the national president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, Chris Aylward, sent a strongly worded letter to the PM critical of Canadian support for Moïse while earlier David Suzuki, Roger Waters, Linda McQuaig, George Elliot Clark and 150 others signed an open letter “calling on the Canadian government to stop backing a corrupt, repressive and illegitimate Haitian president.” These statements followed on from multiple disruptions by Solidarité Québec-Haïti of ministers, including an occupation of Trudeau’s election office, over the government’s support for Moïse.

But, where are the opposition parties whose job it is to question and oppose government policy? With the exception of Bloc Québécois MP Mario Beaulieu – who sponsored a parliamentary petition critical of “the ‘Core Group’ that allegedly brought to power the governments of Martelly and Moïse, who have been accused of corruption and repression” – the silence has been deafening. I couldn’t find any statement from the NDP or Greens. Nor am I aware of left-wing MPs Paul Manly, Leah Gazan, Alexandre Boulerice, Niki Ashton or Matthew Green releasing anything. A number of these MPs have found time to criticize Chinese repression – where Ottawa has little influence – but have stayed silent when Canadian-trained, financed and diplomatically supported police kill Haitian protesters.

Two centuries ago the Haitian Revolution delivered a massive blow to slavery, colonialism and white supremacy. Is it too much to ask that during Black History Month these left-wing MPs (or their staffers) watch Haiti Betrayed or read some of the many articles critical of Canadian policy in Haiti and tweet their opposition to Canada’s role in reviving Duvalierism?

The post Will any MPs criticize Ottawa’s Support for Dictatorship in Haiti? first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Canada’s Alliances prove the Country is an Imperialist Power

For thousands of years folk wisdom has insisted that ‘you shall be known by the company you keep’. This is also true of countries.

A recent United Nations vote condemning the “glorification of Nazism, neo‑Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance” generated significant commentary on social media. The US and Ukraine voted against the widely supported resolution while Canada, Australia, New Zealand and most European countries abstained. One commentator tweeted that the countries who failed to condemn Nazism were “more or less the same coalition of stooges that recognized Juan Guaido” as president of Venezuela while another pointed out that it was similar to the coalition of “countries condemning China’s policies in Hong Kong.” Another connected it to NATO.

These commentators hit on something fundamentally important. It is instructive to consider Canada’s UN votes and position on international issues through the lens of its many alliances.

Canada is a leading member of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Canada participated with the US and Britain in the secret talks on creating a north Atlantic alliance and since NATO was established in 1949 has been one of its most active contributors.

Canada is a member of the “Five Eyes” intelligence-sharing arrangement. A series of post-Second World War accords, beginning with the 1946 UKUSA intelligence agreement, created the “AUS/CAN/NZ/UK/US EYES ONLY” arrangement. The Five Eyes partnership oozes of white supremacy. Settler colonialism and empire unite an alliance that excludes wealthier non-white nations (Japan and South Korea) or those with more English speakers (India and Nigeria). It’s not a coincidence that the only four countries that originally voted against the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in 2007 are part of the Five Eyes.

Canada is a member of the Commonwealth. It was a member of the alliance when it only included Britain, Australia, New Zealand and apartheid South Africa.

Canada is a member of the Group of Seven (G7) wealthy nations. It also has a permanent (constituency-based) seat on the International Monetary Fund’s executive board (Canada represents 10 Caribbean countries and Ireland on the IMF board).

Canada is part of the Lima Group seeking to overthrow the Venezuelan government. Instigated by Canada and Peru in mid 2017, the Lima Group has successfully corralled regional support for the US-led campaign to oust President Nicolas Maduro.

Canada is a member of the Core Group that heavily shapes Haitian affairs. Comprising the ambassadors of the US, France, Brazil and Spain, as well as representatives of the EU and OAS, Core Group representatives meet regularly among themselves and with Haitian officials and periodically release collective statements on Haitian affairs. While formally established two months after the 2004 US, France and Canada coup against President Jean–Bertrand Aristide, Radio Canada’s Enquête pointed out that the Core Group was actually spawned at the “Ottawa initiative on Haiti”. Held at the Meech Lake Government Resort on January 31 and February 1, 2003, no Haitian officials were invited to the private gathering where US, French, OAS and Canadian officials discussed overthrowing Haiti’s elected government, putting the country under UN trusteeship and recreating the Haitian military.

Few countries are represented in as many powerful and openly interventionist coalitions. Canada’s different alliances suggests this country sits near the centre of global imperialism.

The post Canada’s Alliances prove the Country is an Imperialist Power first appeared on Dissident Voice.

2020 Latin America and the Caribbean in Review: The Pink Tide May Rise Again

The balance between the US drive to dominate Latin America and the Caribbean and its counterpart, the Bolivarian cause of regional independence and integration, tipped portside by year end 2020 with major popular victories, including reversal of the coup in Bolivia and the constitutional referendum in Chile. Central has been the persistence of Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution against the asphyxiating US blockade, along with the defiance by Cuba and Nicaragua of US regime-change measures.

The grand struggle played out against the backdrop of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, impacting countries differently depending on their political economies.  As of this writing, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba had COVID death rates per million population of 35, 25, and 12, respectively. In comparison, the death rates in right-leaning neoliberal states of Peru, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Panama, Honduras, and Guatemala were respectively 1123, 888, 849, 805, 843, 306, and 263. The manifestly lower rates on the left reflected, in large part, better developed public health systems and social welfare practices.

Andean Nations

Venezuela’s continued resistance to the US “maximum pressure” hybrid warfare campaign is a triumph in itself. Hybrid warfare – a diplomatic, propaganda, and financial offensive along with a crippling illegal blockade and attack on the Venezuelan currency – kills as effectively as open warfare.  “It bleeds the country slowly and is much more devastating than direct bombardment,” observes Vijay Prashad of the Tricontinental Institute.

Venezuela featured prominently in the campaign speeches of Trump and Biden, with both promoting regime change, as they vied for the votes of the right-leaning Venezuelan émigré community in Florida, the second largest Latinx group in that critical swing state. US-anointed fake President of Venezuela, Juan Guaidó, received a standing ovation at Trump’s State of the Union address in February – about the only thing the Democrats and Republicans agreed on – but received a far less friendly reception back home.

In March, the US falsely charged Venezuela of narco-terrorism, placing multi-million-dollar bounties on the heads of Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro and other officials. A naval armada was sent off the coast of Venezuela under the pretext of interdicting drugs. US government data, however, show the source of the drugs and the countries through which the illicit substances transit to the US are precisely the US client regimes in the region such as Colombia and Honduras.

In May, mercenaries launched an attack from Colombia but were captured, including two US ex-Green Berets. Initially, some Iranian oil tankers evaded the US blockade to bring critically needed fuel to Venezuela, where refining capacity has been impacted by the US sanctions. But later the US seized tankers in international waters, like pirates of yore, having a devastating impact on transport, agriculture, water treatment, and electricity generation in Venezuela.

In another victory in June, federal charges were dropped against the final four embassy protectors, who had defended the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington last year from being usurped by the illegal Guaidó forces. Kevin Zeese, one of the four and a revered progressive movement leader in the US, tragically and unexpectedly died in his sleep in September.

In October, Venezuela adopted controversial anti-blockade measures aimed at facilitating private investment and circumventing the US blockade. The unrelenting US regime-change campaign has had a corrosive effect on Venezuela’s attempt to build socialism. With the economy de facto dollarized, among those hardest hit are government workers, the informal sector, and those without access to dollar remittances from abroad who continue to be paid in the bolivar, now ever more grossly inflated.

Prior to calling the US presidential elections a fraud, Trump made the same accusation regarding the elections for the Venezuelan National Assembly and for the same reason; his preferred candidates would not win. The opposition to the leftist government in Venezuela was divided between an extremist Guaidó faction, which heeded the US directive to boycott the election, and a more moderate grouping opposed to the US blockade, open to dialogue with the Maduro administration, and in favor of US recognition of  the Maduro government. Although turnout was low for the December 6 election, the ruling Socialist Party enjoyed a landslide victory giving them a mandate.

Guaidó, who has become an embarrassment, may be dropped by the new US administration. Biden, however, is expected to “keep using [the] US sanctions weapon but with sharper aim,” as reported by Reuters.

Colombia is the chief regional US client state, distinguished by being the largest recipient of US military aid in the hemisphere and the largest world source of illicit cocaine. With at least seven US military bases, Colombia is a principal staging point for paramilitary attacks on Venezuela. President Iván Duque continues to disregard the 2016 peace agreement with the guerrilla FARC as Colombia endures a pandemic of right-wing violence. In October, the largely indigenous Minga mobilization converged on the capital of Bogotá to protest rampant killings. A national strike followed, called by a broad coalition led by the teachers’ union FECODE. Colombia is the most dangerous country to be a social activist with a leader murdered every other day. The approaching 2022 presidential election could portend a sea change for the popular movement.

Ecuador achieved international notoriety with the streets of Guayaquil littered with dead bodies attributed to mismanagement of the pandemic by President Lenín Moreno. A vice president under leftist Rafael Correa, Moreno turned sharp right after his presidential election in 2017, reversing the anti-imperialist stance of his predecessor. Moreno is prosecuting his former allies and privatizing the state-owned electric and oil companies, while poverty has worsened. Moreno’s popularity rating plummeted to an abysmal 8%, and his administration has been wracked with corruption scandals and popular, anti-neoliberal revolt. Polls for the presidential election, scheduled for this coming February 7, give progressive Andrés Arauz a lead as the Pink Tide may again rise in Ecuador.

Peru. The crises in Peru last year, which saw a succession of corrupt presidents replacing former ones with some sent to prison, were repeated this year. President Martín Vízcarra was dismissed in December, followed by the Manuel Merino presidency of less than a week, followed by the appointment of President Francisco Sagasti. COVID raged in a country, where investment in public health is half that recommended by the World Health Organization, while the youth took to the streets in protest, some demanding a new constitution. A left current is building in Peru as seen with the promising candidacy of Verónika Mendoza in the upcoming April 2021 presidential contest.

Bolivia. Evo Morales returned to Bolivia less than a year after a US-backed coup forced him to escape. Morales had won his reelection bid in October 2019, but the Organization of American States (OAS) conspired with the US and the domestic ultra-right to allege that his victory was fraudulent. Although his reelection was proven fair, the intervention of the OAS gave a patina of legitimacy to the ensuing putsch. Right-wing Senator Jeanine Añez was installed as “interim-president” after Morales was forced to resign by the military and police hierarchy. She presided over two massacres and a campaign of repression against the majority indigenous population and activists of Morales’s party, the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS). A heroic resistance based on strong grassroots organizing by social movements, unions, and the MAS, forced Añez to call a new presidential election, after she had postponed it three times.

On October 18, MAS presidential candidate Luis Arce won with a landslide 55%. The new government has returned to ALBA, CELAC, and UNASUR – regional bodies founded by Hugo Chávez – but is saddled with a $300M loan from the IMF, made by Añez though not authorized by the Senate. The year closed with the Constitution Court propitiously overruling a domestic law that banned same-sex union as inconsistent with international law, permitting the first legal same-sex marriage in Bolivia.

The Southern Cone

Brazil. Jair Bolsonaro’s second year in office was like the first: dismantling social welfare measures and rewarding multinational corporations, while the Amazon burned and the popular sectors protested. His unscientific belief in coronavirus herd immunity contributed to excessive deaths in Brazil, especially impacting indigenous peoples.

Chile has been in turmoil for most of the year with protests against their corrupt President Sebastian Piñera, incidentally the richest person in the country. Finally, on October 23, the right-wing politicians were forced to allow a plebiscite, which passed with a resounding 78% to replace the constitution imposed on the country by the dictator Pinochet. The vote was preceded by a week of massive demonstrations commemorating the first anniversary of the popular struggle against the neoliberal order. Elections for Constituent Assembly members are scheduled for April and presidential elections are scheduled for November, with Communist Eduardo Artés now leading in the polls.

Argentina. The new President Alberto Fernández and VP Cristina Fernández are slowly recovering Argentina after four years of right-wing governance. On October 17, crowds celebrated Peronist loyalty day in support of the center-left government.  Emilio Pérsico said their movement is revolutionary because “it gave power to those who had no power and incorporated the workers into politics.”

Caribbean

Cuba’s Henry Reeve International Medical Brigade has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for its medical missions combatting the pandemic across the world. Cuba is also producing COVID-19 vaccines and is in the process of distributing them to needy countries, all the while suffering under an intensified US blockade. While decrying foreign interference in US internal affairs, the Trump administration has funded some 54 regime-change groups in Cuba through the USAID and the National Endowment for Democracy. The economy has been severely impacted by the pandemic and tightening of US sanctions, forcing Cuba to take pragmatic economic adjustments.

Puerto Rico, a spoil that the US empire gained in the first war of imperialism, the Spanish-American War of 1898, is today one of the few outright remaining colonies in the world. Emblematic of the neglect of Puerto Rico was the physical collapse on December 1 of the Arecibo Observatory’s giant radio telescope, once the largest in the world and source of pride. Nearly 60% of the island’s children live in poverty.

Haiti has been in nearly continuous popular revolt against US-backed President Jovenal Moïse, who has ruled by decree after cancelling elections. Government repression has been violent and intense, which is ignored in the western press.

Central America and Mexico

Central America was battered by not only the pandemic but two devastating hurricanes that hit just ten days apart in October. As conditions further deteriorate, migrants, especially from the US client states of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, continue to flee to the US. Migrants and asylum seekers, who were then deported back from the US, have been killed, raped, or tortured when they were forced to return, according to human rights groups.

El Salvador. In a flagrant overreach of executive prerogative, President Nayib Bukele sent the military on February 9 into the Legislative Assembly to influence a vote on his proposed security program. Bukele, formerly associated with the left FMLN party, has now turned right, militarizing the border between El Salvador and Honduras to enforce the “safe third country agreements” and joining the pro-US interventionist Lima Group.

Guatemala. Angry citizens burned down Guatemala’s congress building on November 21, after a record high budget passed giving the legislators substantial raises and rewarding multinational corporations but cutting social welfare. A national strike followed demanding the resignation of rightist President Alejandro Giammattei, a former director of the Guatemalan penitentiary system.

Honduras. Eleven years since the US-backed coup overthrew the democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya, the country has devolved into a state where current President Juan Orlando Hernández is an unindicted drug smuggler, the intellectual authors who ordered the assassination of indigenous environmental leader Berta Cáceres run free, Afro-descendent people and women are murdered with impunity, gang violence is widespread, and state protection from pandemic and hurricanes is grossly deficient.

Costa Rica. Workers staged a week-long national strike in October against the neoliberal policies of President Carlos Alvarado, who then ignored the people and resumed negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), sparking more popular demonstrations. Despite intervention by the Catholic Church to diffuse the protests, the rebellion against destructive tax increases, cuts to public services, and privatizations “has changed the political dynamics in a country which was formerly seen as ‘the Switzerland of Central America,’” according to journalist Rob Lyons.

Nicaragua. Under the Sandinista government of President Daniel Ortega, Nicaragua enjoys: “reduction of poverty and extreme poverty, eradication of illiteracy, the highest economic growth in the region for a decade, free quality education, change of the energy matrix to 77% renewable energy, [and] from 90th place to number 5 worldwide…in reducing the gender inequality gap.”

Given this “threat of a good example,” US efforts to isolate Nicaragua economically to achieve regime change continued. Reports by the PBS NewsHour, the Center for Investigative Reporting’s Reveal, and the Oakland Institute of alleged abuses to the indigenous and Afro-descendent communities provided evidence in support of boycotting the import of “conflict beef,” which would have had a major impact on the Nicaraguan economy. After the allegations were exposed as unsubstantiated, the accusers hypocritically claimed their actions resulted in the Nicaraguan government correcting itself.

The US State Department has already called the Nicaraguan presidential election a fraud even though it is not scheduled until November 2021. After Venezuela and Cuba, Nicaragua is the hardest hit country in Latin America by US sanctions.

Mexico is the second largest economy in Latin America, the eleventh in the world, and the US’s top trade partner. After decades of right-wing rule, left-of-center Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) and his new MORENA party have been in office for two years.

A little over a year ago, Mexico flew then President Evo Morales out of Bolivia, when his life was threatened by a rightwing coup, and gave asylum in the Mexican Embassy in La Paz to other deposed Bolivian officials. Mexico has also defied the US blockade of Venezuela, and AMLO has called for the release of whistleblower Julian Assange.

Last spring, AMLO closed factories in response to the pandemic except for those supplying essential services. Workers went on strike when some factory owners defied the government closures. The US intervened forcing border maquiladoras that produce goods for the US military to open.

With high COVID infection rates, AMLO has been criticized for what some characterize as a lax and delayed handling of the health crisis. He was also confronted by protests from the extreme right nationalist coalition FRENA, demanding that the “Bolivarian Dictator” must resign, while a rightist plan called Project BOA outlined a strategy for ousting him from office.

In July, AMLO made an official state visit to Washington. “Under Trump, Mexico has had to navigate abrupt demands to stem illegal migration or face trade tariffs.” As the nineteenth century Mexican President Porfirio Díaz famously lamented: “Poor Mexico, so far from God and so close to the United States.”

Campaign for 2021

UN Secretary General Guterres’s plea for a “global ceasefire,” ever more necessitated by “the fury of the virus,” has been ignored by the US. Meanwhile, some 30 nations worldwide, including Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba, are suffering under suffocating US sanctions, which are a form of hybrid warfare. These unilateral, coercive measures, impacting a third of humanity, are illegal under the UN Charter. As the “liberator” Simón Bolívar presciently observed in 1829: “The US appears to be destined by providence to plague the Americas with misery in the name of freedom.”

The post 2020 Latin America and the Caribbean in Review: The Pink Tide May Rise Again first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Canada supports Unconstitutional Haitian Leader as it seeks to overthrow Venezuela’s President Maduro

Add this to the “you can’t make this stuff up” file: Canada’s foreign minister recently met his Haitian counterpart, who is part of a de facto administration illegally rewriting the constitution, to discuss Venezuela’s supposed democracy deficiency. Apparently, Ottawa wants a Haitian regime extending its term and criminalizing protest to maintain its support for Juan Guaidó as “constitutional” president of Venezuela.

Last week foreign affairs minister François-Philippe Champagne spoke with his Haitian counterpart Claude Joseph. According to Champagne’s tweet about the conversation, they discussed COVID-19, Haiti’s elections and Venezuela. Presumably, Champagne relayed Ottawa’s position concerning Venezuela’s recent National Assembly elections, which delivered a final blow to opposition politician Guaidó’s farcical presidential claims. In August Joseph met his US and Canadian patrons in Washington on the sidelines of an anti-Venezuela Lima Group meeting. In response Haïti Liberté’s Kim Ives noted, “what could be more ironic and ludicrous than Haiti’s President Jovenel Moïse accusing Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro of being ‘illegitimate and dictatorial’ while demanding that he immediately ‘hold free, fair, and transparent general elections’? But that is exactly the position of the Lima Group, a collection of 15 Latin American states and Canada, which Haiti joined in January 2020.”

Joseph is the representative of a prime minister appointed extra-constitutionally. His boss was picked by Moïse after parliament, which needs to endorse a prime minister, expired because the president failed to organize elections. Moïse is ruling by decree and pushing to extend his term by a year to February 7, 2022, against the wishes of most Haitians and constitutional experts.

Canada is essentially supporting Moïse’s bid to extend his mandate. Ottawa is also supporting an election process that most political actors in Haiti reject. In the summer Haiti’s entire nine person electoral council resigned in response to Moïse’s pressure and few believe a fair election is possible under his direction.

Canada is backing the elections and an illegal constitutional rewrite. After the call with Champagne, Joseph tweeted, “I had a fruitful conversation today with my Canadian counterpart François-Philippe Champagne. We discussed, among other things, Canada’s support for constitutional reform and the holding of elections in 2021.”

Moïse is seeking to rewrite the constitution. Soon after parliament was disbanded, he picked individuals to rewrite the constitution in flagrant violation of the law. Moïse appointed former Supreme Court justice Boniface Alexandre to head the constitutional rewrite. Alexandre was made figurehead “President” after the US, France and Canada overthrew elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004. In another throwback to a period that saw thousands killed in political violence, Moïse recently made Léon Charles head of police. The former military man oversaw the police in the 17 months after the 2004 coup with Charles publicly referring to the “war” the police waged against the pro-democracy sector.

In another regressive throwback, Moïse unilaterally decreed the creation of a new National Intelligence Agency at the end of November. Kim Ives explains, “this secret agency’s completely anonymous officers (Article 43) will have false identities (Article 44), carry guns (Article 51), be legally untouchable (Article 49), and have the power not just to spy and infiltrate but to arrest anybody engaged in ‘subversive’ acts (Article 29) or threatening ‘state security’ i.e. the power of President Jovenel Moïse.” The new agency appears analogous to the Duvalier dictatorship’s Volontaires de la Sécurité Nationale (Ton Ton Macoutes) or the Service d’Intelligence National the CIA created after Baby Doc fled in 1986. Supposed to fight the cocaine trade, SIN members were involved in hundreds of murders in subsequent years.

Even most of Moïse’s foreign patrons have nominally distanced themselves from the new intelligence agency, which reach beyond the constitutional powers of the president. The Core Group, a US and Canada led alliance of foreign ambassadors that heavily influences Haitian affairs, released a statement critical of Moïse’s intelligence agency decree. (But, I could not find a mention of the Core Group statement on either the Canadian ambassador or Canada in Haiti Twitter accounts.)

Alongside the intelligence agency announcement, Moïse decreed new legislation “for strengthening public security”. It includes massive fines and 50-year jail sentences for individuals convicted of “terrorism” related charges, which include the common protest tactic of blockading roads.

As it seeks to overthrow Nicolás Maduro for purported human rights violations and democratic deficiencies, the Trudeau government has endorsed Moïse’s repressive measures. After a meeting with the president, Canada’s ambassador Stuart Savage tweeted on December 10: “Important discussion with Jovenel Moïse on this International Human Rights Day on the subject of democratic renewal, rule of law and food security.” Savage failed to criticize Moïse’s bid to extend his term, rewrite the constitution, establish an intelligence agency or label road blockades “terrorism”.

Even before these recent unconstitutional measures, partnering with Moïse to demand Maduro follow Canada’s interpretation of the Venezuelan constitution was laughable. Moïse is the hand-picked successor of Michel Martelly who the US, Canada and Organization of American States inserted into the presidency after the horrific 2010 earthquake. A relatively obscure businessman who had never held public office, Moïse benefited from two million dollars in public funds (ironically stolen from Venezuelan assistance) funneled his way by the Martelly administration. According to official figures, Moïse received 595,000 votes — just 9.6 percent of registered voters in the 2016 election. (For his part, Maduro received the support of 27% of registered voters in the May 2018 presidential election.)

Moïse faced an unprecedented popular uprising against his presidency between July 2018 and late 2019. The country’s urban areas were paralyzed by a handful of general strikes, including one that largely shuttered Port-au-Prince for a month. The only reason the unpopular president is still in office is because of diplomatic, financial and policing support from Ottawa and Washington.

Shining a light on Canadian policy towards Haiti makes clear that its bid to replace Maduro as President of Venezuela is not about democracy. Ottawa is completely comfortable with an undemocratic government in Haiti.

The post Canada supports Unconstitutional Haitian Leader as it seeks to overthrow Venezuela’s President Maduro first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Canada supports Unconstitutional Haitian Leader as it seeks to overthrow Venezuela’s President Maduro

Add this to the “you can’t make this stuff up” file: Canada’s foreign minister recently met his Haitian counterpart, who is part of a de facto administration illegally rewriting the constitution, to discuss Venezuela’s supposed democracy deficiency. Apparently, Ottawa wants a Haitian regime extending its term and criminalizing protest to maintain its support for Juan Guaidó as “constitutional” president of Venezuela.

Last week foreign affairs minister François-Philippe Champagne spoke with his Haitian counterpart Claude Joseph. According to Champagne’s tweet about the conversation, they discussed COVID-19, Haiti’s elections and Venezuela. Presumably, Champagne relayed Ottawa’s position concerning Venezuela’s recent National Assembly elections, which delivered a final blow to opposition politician Guaidó’s farcical presidential claims. In August Joseph met his US and Canadian patrons in Washington on the sidelines of an anti-Venezuela Lima Group meeting. In response Haïti Liberté’s Kim Ives noted, “what could be more ironic and ludicrous than Haiti’s President Jovenel Moïse accusing Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro of being ‘illegitimate and dictatorial’ while demanding that he immediately ‘hold free, fair, and transparent general elections’? But that is exactly the position of the Lima Group, a collection of 15 Latin American states and Canada, which Haiti joined in January 2020.”

Joseph is the representative of a prime minister appointed extra-constitutionally. His boss was picked by Moïse after parliament, which needs to endorse a prime minister, expired because the president failed to organize elections. Moïse is ruling by decree and pushing to extend his term by a year to February 7, 2022, against the wishes of most Haitians and constitutional experts.

Canada is essentially supporting Moïse’s bid to extend his mandate. Ottawa is also supporting an election process that most political actors in Haiti reject. In the summer Haiti’s entire nine person electoral council resigned in response to Moïse’s pressure and few believe a fair election is possible under his direction.

Canada is backing the elections and an illegal constitutional rewrite. After the call with Champagne, Joseph tweeted, “I had a fruitful conversation today with my Canadian counterpart François-Philippe Champagne. We discussed, among other things, Canada’s support for constitutional reform and the holding of elections in 2021.”

Moïse is seeking to rewrite the constitution. Soon after parliament was disbanded, he picked individuals to rewrite the constitution in flagrant violation of the law. Moïse appointed former Supreme Court justice Boniface Alexandre to head the constitutional rewrite. Alexandre was made figurehead “President” after the US, France and Canada overthrew elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004. In another throwback to a period that saw thousands killed in political violence, Moïse recently made Léon Charles head of police. The former military man oversaw the police in the 17 months after the 2004 coup with Charles publicly referring to the “war” the police waged against the pro-democracy sector.

In another regressive throwback, Moïse unilaterally decreed the creation of a new National Intelligence Agency at the end of November. Kim Ives explains, “this secret agency’s completely anonymous officers (Article 43) will have false identities (Article 44), carry guns (Article 51), be legally untouchable (Article 49), and have the power not just to spy and infiltrate but to arrest anybody engaged in ‘subversive’ acts (Article 29) or threatening ‘state security’ i.e. the power of President Jovenel Moïse.” The new agency appears analogous to the Duvalier dictatorship’s Volontaires de la Sécurité Nationale (Ton Ton Macoutes) or the Service d’Intelligence National the CIA created after Baby Doc fled in 1986. Supposed to fight the cocaine trade, SIN members were involved in hundreds of murders in subsequent years.

Even most of Moïse’s foreign patrons have nominally distanced themselves from the new intelligence agency, which reach beyond the constitutional powers of the president. The Core Group, a US and Canada led alliance of foreign ambassadors that heavily influences Haitian affairs, released a statement critical of Moïse’s intelligence agency decree. (But, I could not find a mention of the Core Group statement on either the Canadian ambassador or Canada in Haiti Twitter accounts.)

Alongside the intelligence agency announcement, Moïse decreed new legislation “for strengthening public security”. It includes massive fines and 50-year jail sentences for individuals convicted of “terrorism” related charges, which include the common protest tactic of blockading roads.

As it seeks to overthrow Nicolás Maduro for purported human rights violations and democratic deficiencies, the Trudeau government has endorsed Moïse’s repressive measures. After a meeting with the president, Canada’s ambassador Stuart Savage tweeted on December 10: “Important discussion with Jovenel Moïse on this International Human Rights Day on the subject of democratic renewal, rule of law and food security.” Savage failed to criticize Moïse’s bid to extend his term, rewrite the constitution, establish an intelligence agency or label road blockades “terrorism”.

Even before these recent unconstitutional measures, partnering with Moïse to demand Maduro follow Canada’s interpretation of the Venezuelan constitution was laughable. Moïse is the hand-picked successor of Michel Martelly who the US, Canada and Organization of American States inserted into the presidency after the horrific 2010 earthquake. A relatively obscure businessman who had never held public office, Moïse benefited from two million dollars in public funds (ironically stolen from Venezuelan assistance) funneled his way by the Martelly administration. According to official figures, Moïse received 595,000 votes — just 9.6 percent of registered voters in the 2016 election. (For his part, Maduro received the support of 27% of registered voters in the May 2018 presidential election.)

Moïse faced an unprecedented popular uprising against his presidency between July 2018 and late 2019. The country’s urban areas were paralyzed by a handful of general strikes, including one that largely shuttered Port-au-Prince for a month. The only reason the unpopular president is still in office is because of diplomatic, financial and policing support from Ottawa and Washington.

Shining a light on Canadian policy towards Haiti makes clear that its bid to replace Maduro as President of Venezuela is not about democracy. Ottawa is completely comfortable with an undemocratic government in Haiti.

The post Canada supports Unconstitutional Haitian Leader as it seeks to overthrow Venezuela’s President Maduro first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Politicians Criticize China’s Role in Hong Kong while Ignoring Canada’s Role in Haiti

For those who support a truly just foreign policy comparing Canadian politicians’ reactions to protests in Hong Kong and the slightly more populous Haiti is instructive. It reveals the extent to which this country’s politicians are forced to align with the US Empire.

Despite hundreds of thousands of Canadians having close ties with both Haiti and Hong Kong, only protests in the latter seem to be of concern to politicians.

Recently NDP MP Niki Ashton and Green MP Paul Manly were attacked ferociously in Parliament and the dominant media for participating in a webinar titled “Free Meng Wanzhou”. During the hullabaloo about an event focused on Canada’s arrest of the Huawei CFO, Manly — who courageously participated in the webinar, even if his framing of the issue left much to be desired — and Ashton — who sent a statement to be read at the event but responded strongly to the backlash in an interview with the Winnipeg Free Press — felt the need to mention Hong Kong. Both the NDP (“Canada must do more to help the people of Hong Kong”) and Greens (“Echoes of Tiananmen Square: Greens condemn China’s latest assault on democracy in Hong Kong”) have released multiple statements critical of Beijing’s policy in Hong Kong since protests erupted there nearly two years ago. So have the Liberals, Bloc Québecois and Conservatives.

In March 2019 protests began against an extradition accord between Hong Kong and mainland China. Hong Kongers largely opposed the legislation, which was eventually withdrawn. Many remain hostile to Beijing, which later introduced an anti-sedition law to staunch dissent. Some protests turned violent. One bystander was killed by protesters. A journalist lost an eye after being shot by the police. Hundreds more were hurt and thousands arrested.

During more or less the same period Haiti was the site of far more intense protests and state repression. In July 2018 an uprising began against a reduction in subsidies for fuel (mostly for cooking), which morphed into a broad call for a corrupt and illegitimate president Jovenel Moïse to go. The uprising included a half dozen general strikes, including one that shuttered Port-au-Prince for a month. An October 2019 poll found that 81% of Haitians wanted the Canadian-backed president to leave.

Dozens, probably over 100, were killed by police and government agents. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other western establishment human rights organizations have all documented dozens of police killings in Haiti. More recently, Moïse has ruled by decree, sought to extend his term and to rewrite the constitution. Yet, I couldn’t find a single statement by the NDP or Greens, let alone the Liberals or Conservatives, expressing support for the pro-democracy movement in Haiti.

Even an equal number of statements from a Canadian political party would be less than adequate. Not only were the protests and repression far more significant in Haiti, the impact of a Canadian politician’s intervention is far more meaningful. Unlike in Hong Kong, the police responsible for the repression in Haiti were trained, financed and backed by Canada. The Trudeau government even gave $12.5 million to the Haitian police under its Feminist International Assistance Policy! More broadly, the unpopular president received decisive diplomatic and financial support from Ottawa and Washington. In fact, a shift in Canada/US policy towards Moïse would have led to his ouster. On the other hand, a harder Canada/US policy towards Hong Kong would have led to well … not much.

The imperial and class dynamics of Haiti are fairly straightforward. For a century Washington has consistently subjugated the country in which a small number of, largely light-skinned, families dominate economic affairs. During the past 20 years Canada has staunchly supported US efforts to undermine Haitian democracy and sovereignty.

Hong Kong’s politics are substantially more complicated. Even if one believes that most in Hong Kong are leery of Beijing’s growing influence — as I do — the end of British rule and reintegration of Hong Kong into China represents a break from a regrettable colonial legacy. Even if you take an entirely unfavorable view towards Beijing’s role there, progressive Canadians shouldn’t focus more on criticizing Chinese policy in Hong Kong than Canadian policy in Haiti.

Echoing an open letter signed by David Suzuki, Roger Waters, Linda McQuaig and 150 others and the demands of those who occupied Justin Trudeau’s office last year, the national president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, Chris Aylward, recently sent a letter to Prime Minister Trudeau critical of Canadian support for Moïse. It notes, “Canada must reassess its financial and political support to the Jovenel Moïse government, including police training, until independent investigations are conducted into government corruption in the Petrocaribe scandal and ongoing state collusion with criminal gangs.” The NDP, Greens and others should echo the call.

To prove they are more concerned with genuinely promoting human rights – rather than aligning with the rulers of ‘our’ empire – I humbly suggest that progressive Canadians hold off on criticizing Beijing’s policy towards Hong Kong until they have produced an equal number of statements critical of Canada’s role in Haiti.

To learn more about Canada’s role in Haiti tune into this webinar Sunday on “Imperialist attacks on Haiti and Haitian resistance: Canada’s Imperialist Adventures in Haiti”.

The post Politicians Criticize China's Role in Hong Kong while Ignoring Canada's Role in Haiti first appeared on Dissident Voice.