A popular uprising has paralyzed life in much of Haiti. While police are violently suppressing protesters, don’t expect Canadian officials to criticize security forces they fund.
Major centres across Haiti have been blocked for days. Protesters want foreign appointed leader Ariel Henry to go. They are angry about insecurity and the cost-of-living. Stoking the growing protests, the government ended a fuel subsidy on Monday that will have a broad economic implication.
In response to the strikes and marches, as well as some property destruction and looting, foreign embassies and banks have closed. The Dominican Republic reportedly sent special forces to Haiti on Thursday.
On Wednesday in the southern city of Les Cayes protesters held a casket draped with the US, French and Canadian flags and a picture of prime minister Henry. After President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated fourteen months ago the Core Group (representatives of US, Canada, France, Brazil, Spain, Germany, EU, UN and OAS) effectively appointed Henry to lead the country.
Since the US, France and Canada overthrew thousands of elected officials and instigated a UN occupation, Haitians have regularly targeted Ottawa at marches. Previously, protesters have hurled rocks and Molotov cocktails, as well as burned tires, in front of the Canadian Embassy in Port-au-Prince. Millions of Haitians clearly view Canada as an imperialist force.
As part of its influence Ottawa has devoted significant political capital and resources to the Haitian police. Since the 2004 coup Canada has spent hundreds of million dollars on the Haitian police. Last month the federal government approved the export of Canadian-made armored personnel carriers to the Haitian police. Canadian ambassador Sébastien Carrière recently boasted about Canada spending $30 million on the Haitian police in 2022 and Ottawa is leading the push for the United Nations basket fund to assist the Haitian police.
On Tuesday in Port-au-Prince police shot towards a journalist and when he complained one of the officers walked over and shot him. With video of the incident, BNN Canada reported, “Police open fire on a journalist who states, ‘I’m the press!’ during protests in Haiti’s capital. A police officer approaches and shoots him in the stomach with a handgun hidden behind his riot shield.”
But don’t expect ambassador Carrière to criticize this incident or any other police violence. Over the past few weeks, the Haitian police have killed a number of protesters and beat many others with no comment from Canadian officials. Almost without fail Canadian officials have stayed mum about Haitian police repression. Instead, Canada’s ambassador to Haiti regularly tweets about supporting the police.
Recently Carrière tweeted about Haitian police Chief Frantz Elbé addressing the UN and about RCMP Deputy Commissioner Mike Duheme meeting Elbé. Last week Carrière also retweeted a Miami Herald article about the Haitian police and a few days earlier an Alterpresse story on the same subject.
Canada has chosen a side and it’s not the long-suffering Haitian people. Ottawa has trained and funds police to maintain its chosen leader, Ariel Henry, in office.
Canada’s actions speak loud and clear: ‘We support police violence. Popular uprising be damned. Democracy be damned. Non-interference in other country’s affairs be damned.’ Ottawa is sticking to its guns. Literally.