Haitians have good reason to hate Canada

A meme circulating among Haitians about a newly planned UN mission labels it MINUPAH (La Mission des Nations Unies pour la protection d’Ariel Henry). It’s a word play on MINUSTAH (La Mission des Nations Unies pour la stabilisation en Haïti), which occupied the Caribbean nation from 2004 to 2017. Imposed by the US and Canada, Henry has called for a new UN military mission to protect his illegitimate rule. The troops pictured in the meme have Canadian flags on them.

On Monday demonstrators tried to march on the Canadian embassy in Port-au-Prince and ten days ago an activist in Petit-Goâve told an interviewer they refuse to continue living under an “imperialist and colonialist system” imposed by the US, France, Canada, UN and Core Group. In Port-au-Prince last week a demonstrator carried a large wooden cross — as if crucified — bearing images of the US, France and Canada while three weeks ago protesters in aux Cayes marched with a casket draped with the imperial triumvirates’ flags and a picture of Ariel Henry. A meme circulating online shows wild dogs — one with a Canadian flag — eating a little lamb with a Haitian flag.

On May 18 dozens protested in front of the Canadian embassy in Port-au-Prince. A protester repeatedly banged a rock on the gates. Fourteen months earlier protesters rallied in front of the Canadian Embassy in Port-au-Prince chanting “Canada go home.” On October 27, 2019, Molotov cocktails were thrown at Canada’s diplomatic representation in Haiti. A tire was also set alight in front of the Embassy. A Voice of America report claimed that protesters “attempted to burn down the Canadian Embassy.” A few days earlier rocks were thrown at Canada’s diplomatic outpost.

A Radio Canada story at the time began with the image of a Haitian holding a sign saying: “Fuck USA. Merde la France. Fuck Canada.” Three years earlier a demonstrator at the front of a protest carried a large wooden cross bearing the imperial triumvirates’ flags. The caption on a Reuters video from a protest in 2014 noted, “thousands of Haitians take to the streets of Port-au-Prince to protest the government of President Michel Martelly, as well as the government of Canada for supporting Martelly.”

Protesters regularly speechify against Canadian imperialism. The 2019 documentary Haiti Betrayed includes a man yelling in front of the embassy in Port-au-Prince: “We don’t have anything against Canada! Why are you against us?” In a 2013 Journal of Haitian Studies article Jennifer Greenburg describes a “student from the Artibonite” interjecting in an “animated conversation” at a vocational school where she taught. The young man takes a water bottle and places it on the ground. “‘This is Haiti,’ he says, and grabbing another student’s backpack, ‘is the US, Canada — the powerful countries.’ He lifts the backpack just above the water bottle and ‘every time we come up,’ lifting the water bottle from the ground near my feet, ‘they keep us down,’ crushing the water bottle to the ground with the bulky knapsack.”

After Uruguay announced it was withdrawing its 950 troops from MINUSTAH in 2013, senator Moise Jean-Charles took aim at the countries he considered most responsible for undermining Haitian sovereignty. The country’s most trusted opposition figure according to a 2019 poll, Jean-Charles said, “Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay are not the real occupiers of Haiti. The real forces behind Haiti’s military occupation — the powers which are putting everybody else up to it — are the U.S., France, and Canada, which colluded in the Feb. 29, 2004 coup d’etat against President [Jean-Bertrand] Aristide. It was then they began trampling Haitian sovereignty.” Jean-Charles added, “we are asking the Americans, French, and Canadians to come and collect their errand boy because he cannot lead the country anymore.”

Days after I poured fake blood on foreign affairs minister Pierre Pettigrew’s hands and yelled “Pettigrew lies, Haitians die” during a June 2005 press conference on Haiti, Aristide was asked about the incident. In an interview from South Africa, he told Naomi Klein the Canadian government had Haitian “blood on its hands.” The ousted president added, “the coup, or the kidnapping, was led by the United States, France and Canada. These three countries were on the front lines by sending their soldiers to Haiti before February 29, by having their soldiers either at the airport or at my residence or around the palace or in the capital to make sure that they succeeded in kidnapping me, leading [to] the coup.”

For their part, left-wing weekly newspapers Haiti Progrès and Haiti Liberté have described Canada as an “occupying force”, “coup supporter” or “imperialist” at least one hundred times. In one instance, the front page of Haiti Libertéshowed a picture of President René Préval next to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and two Canadian soldiers. Part of the caption below read, “Préval under the surveillance of the occupying forces.”

Haitians’ are right to be angry at Canada. During this century Canada helped destabilize an elected government, plan a coup and invade to topple a President. It also trained and financed a highly repressive police force, justifying their politically motivated arrests and killings. Ottawa also backed the exclusion of Haiti’s most popular party from participating in multiple elections and helped fix an election. After a terrible earthquake Canada dispatched troops to control the country and later propped up a repressive, corrupt and illegitimate president facing massive protests. Ottawa is part of a coalition of foreign representatives that openly dictate to Haitian leaders and now it is leading the diplomatic push for a new foreign military intervention.

Haitians have every right not to like us because of what we’ve done.

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