Canada and Haiti
It seems Haiti just cannot get a break. It is the basket case of a nation in the Western Hemisphere. Such a sad situation for this interesting Nation, which began as a country in such a glorious fashion. Slave revolts defeated the greatest military of the day, Napoleon's Army, to become the first Demoncratic Independant Republic in the Hemisphere. It's history ever since has been on a downward slope, often due to events beyond it's control. It has been regularly interfered with by external racist forces, largely the United States, which actually occupied it early in the 20 Century and left it no better off. It has had long periods of dictatorship as was the case under the Duvaliers. And, of course, it is frequently the victim of natural disasters, usually Hurricanes, the last two of which it is still trying to recover.
Most recently, its democraticly elected government was overthrown. It was the little remembered regime change engineered by the US in the midst of its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This coup was organized in conjuction with Canada. It seem Canada was moving away from its proud tradition of peacekeeping . Under the Consevative government it moved to imitate the US and become a militarily inteferring Nation.
Briefly, US marines forceably removed Jean-Bertand Aristide, the democratically elected President, while Canadian special forces secured the airport. Armed thugs who were former military soldiers and/or members of the feared tonton macoutes were allowed to enter the country and execute the coup. Canada and the US more or less left the UN to try to pick up the pieces and aid Haiti with peacekeepers. Canada has had some role in peacekeeping and RCMP training of the police in the country. To this day, I can find no substantial reason for Canada and the US bring about a coup in a sovereign neighbour country.
Here is a short article on Canada's involvement in the Haitian coup . http://www.zmag.org/znet/viewArticle/1938
If you want to begin to educate yourself on the neo-colonial relationship that the United States has had with Haiti you might begin with this brief article http://harpers.org/archive/2010/01/hbc-90006353
The Canadian government like to speak of Canada being a friend of Haiti. Most Canadians do no gag or gasp when they hear this because most are not aware of Canada's direct involvement in the coup. Canada has taken in a lot of Haitian refugees who have largely settled in the Montreal area as they speak French and Creole. Haitians have come to be a part of the ethnic mix of Canada enriching our culture from hockey to the Governor General.
This recently current earthquake disaster is absolutely devastating to this small island nation.
The Capital city has been laid waste with near total destruction. Other cities and rural areas as well. Its infastructure was weak to begin with , now it is nearly non existent. Ten's of thousands of people will die, possibly hundreds of thousands unless there is a massive rescue effort and an even more massive effort to feed, house, get clean water to the people and rebuilt the Country.
It appears the effort necessary is getting cranked up quickly. The US, who is in the best position to do the most quickly seems prepared to do so with Bill Clinton as the special envoy of the UN in Haiti. I hope the US answers the call better than they did for the people who suffered, and continue to suffer from Hurricane Katrina. One wonders how sustained a commitment will be to a poor nation of black people who don't even speak English (if I sound a little cynical, I am).
I seldom give the Canadian Conservative government under Stephen Harper, much praise but I do think they have acted quickly this time. Could it be because they must sit across the table from our Governor General Michaelle Jean, is Haitian by birth, and discuss what aid Canada can offer. It would be hard to not do our best in such a situation. So far I read that the military DART team is on its way. This unit sets up a military hospital and water purification unit that can produce enough potable water for 50,000 people each day. Two Canadian ships , with supplies are on their way to help. Some helicopters will be available and some military forces members. The Canadian government has contributed seven million dollars and agreed to match Canadian individual contributions dollar for dollar. Canadians are generous so this may end up a large cash donation. This is all a credible beginning.
With other Nations around the World doing what they can, maybe, just maybe, Haiti can be stood up on its feet again within a reasonable time.
It is very moving to hear The Right Honourable Governor General Michaelle Jean react to this disaster with her public statement . She addressed all Canadians in French then in English. She then offered , in Creole,words of condolence and encouragement for courage once again to theHaitians, in Canada and Haiti.
Here you can hear her heart felt words. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/jean-responds-to-quake/article1430138/?view=picks
For those who don't want to hear the French portion of her address, here is the English portion on You Tube. As a Canadain, I am offended that on You Tube the address was split in two. Canada is a bilingual country and when the highest symbol of Canada speaks we should listen to the address in both official languages. To hear her whole address open the Globe and Mail webpage above.
HOW CANADIANS CAN HELP
Go here for the BBC list of Charities to use to donate money for the people of Haiti.