The end of February marked the 10th anniversary of the coup that ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, with the help of the Canadian government, from power in Haiti. On this occasion, the Haiti Action Network and other groups, including the PCR-RCP in Québec City, organized a speaking tour of lawyer Mario Joseph, an activist for social justice involved in Port-au-Prince with the “Bureau des Avocats Internationaux.” As part of a tour that took him to Québec and Ontario to educate Canadians about the actions of their imperialist government, Mario Joseph presented a horrific record of the behavior of the agents of so-called “international development.”
Enough of Tourist-Soldiers!
Since the Yankee occupation from 1915 to 1934, Haiti has experienced 33 coups. Whether the justifications for these coups were the need to oust an annoying politician or the need to provide disaster relief following an earthquake, any reason was used by the imperialist powers, including Canada, to violate the right to self-determination of the Haitian people.
Months before the coup of February 2004, a smear campaign against Aristide began after he decided that the free trade agreements would not be signed by his administration. Through the media and their envoys in Non-Governmental Organizations, the imperialists did everything to accuse the Haitian government of violating human rights. The fact that this government enjoyed popular support, and that it tripled the number of high schools across the country during its rule, did not matter.
Secret memos from the Canadian Embassy in Haiti demonstrate that Canada had organized political opposition in preparation for the disappearance of Aristide. Knowing that former Haitian soldiers were ready to terrorize the Haitian people from the neighboring Dominican Republic the Canadian government planned the removal of Aristide and the “reorganization” of the Haitian government. When Canada’s military intervention became “necessary”, everything was already in place to implement a UN-sponsored trusteeship.
“Canadian soldiers are called tourists”, Mario Joseph told us during his lecture at the L’Étincelle bookstore in Québec City: “You never know what they are doing in our country. They turn round with their vehicles and take pictures, but ignore the arbitrary 150 executions that the regime has made to silence political opposition.”
Haiti is not a Poor but an Impoverished Country
What about Haiti today? NGOs that flocked to the country after the 2010 earthquake and military occupation forces are only causing bickering. Bogus elections, ineffective foreign aid and other calamities negatively affect the country due to the actions of greedy imperialists who use permanent instability to run their factories in Port-Au-Prince.
In 2011, the current president and former close friend of Tontons Macoutes Michel Martelly was “elected” without any details being released by the international bodies who organized the poll. “Martelly gets praise from the UN, but he shelved the election of one third of the Senate and all Haitian mayors while silencing journalists and whistleblowers,” said Mario Joseph.
“Four years after the earthquake, one million displaced people are still in refugee camps, but hopefully, Martelly and the NGOs are here,” Mr. Joseph ironically added. Indeed, the irrelevance of foreign intervention becomes clear when there are entire blocks that collapsed in the earthquake which have not yet been cleared; the country has no new infrastructure. In the refugee camps, living conditions are horrible and Mr. Joseph alone is giving legal aid to hundreds women who have been victims of rape. Moreover, the military occupation was even the source of the cholera outbreak that appeared for the first time in Haiti’s history in 2010!
“Haiti is not a poor country, it is an impoverished country,” grieves Mario Joseph. “Haiti has gold, cobalt, aluminum and oil, but none of it belongs to us people. It is neoliberalism that impoverishes us. Foreign intervention is the doldrums!”
As communists, we are in solidarity with the struggles of all peoples against Canadian imperialism. Haitian people are particularly close to those of us in Québec due to the large Haitian diaspora within this province. While doing his legal work, Mario Joseph is also trying to educate new generations of activists for social justice in Haiti. L’Étincelle Bookstore offered him some classics of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and will forward any donations of progressive and revolutionary books to Port-Au-Prince.