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What Haiti needs

A shorter version of the letter below was published in New Brunswick’s provincial newspaper today: http://telegraphjournal.canadaeast.com/opinion/article/926462

The Telegraph-Journal’s commentary page on Haiti today lacks the historical reflection and analysis needed to conclude what Haiti needs from Canada in a time of crisis.

David Brooks incredibly blames Haitian culture for their plight today. Hassan Arif cites Haiti’s unstable political climate and frequent military coups, including the 2004 coup that overthrew Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the democratically elected president.

Not mentioned is Canada’s role in the 2004 coup, which resulted in a wave of political repression, violence and further impoverishment. Prior to the 2004 coup, Canadian aid dollars were spent on Haitian non-governmental organizations that destabilized Aristide’s government and justified a foreign military intervention. Canada then sent in soldiers to secure the airport for Aristide’s removal from the country.

Instead of blaming the victim, Brooks should blame foreign imperial interests that serve to keep the Haitians down. Canadian-owned sweatshops like t-shirt maker Gildan Activewear profit handsomely year after year from the cheap labour force and poor working conditions in Haiti. Haitians make a minimum wage of $3 per day, which is not enough
for workers to take care of their families. Shortly after Aristide, a popular leader among the poor people of Port-au-Prince, proposed raising the minimum wage, his government was overthrown by the U.S., Canada and France.

In 2009, Canada cancelled Haiti’s so-called debt of $230 million. Canada should now be leading the calls to support the cancellation of all of Haiti’s paralyzing $890 million debt owed to the International Monetary Fund, the Inter-American Development Bank and others.

The homes, schools, hospitals and vital infrastructures must be rebuilt with the employment and training of Haitians. When the rebuilding is done, education, healthcare, social services and other essential services must be kept public, safe and affordable, and free from the privatization vultures that benefited from Hurricane Katrina to the further detriment of the people of New Orleans.

Lastly, Canada must stop deporting Haitians from Canada and immediately open the borders to Haitian immigrants into our country. While global capital, guilty of heinous crimes against nature and humanity, enjoys free movement across borders, people are denied entry to safe havens such as Canada everyday and are forced to suffer and die in the sea of global capitalism.

Tracy Glynn
Fredericton

Comments

Comment from Erik
Time January 20, 2010 at 4:38 pm

Shortly after Aristide, a popular leader among the poor people of Port-au-Prince, proposed raising the minimum wage, his government was overthrown by the U.S., Canada and France.

Do you have the name of the popular leader?

Comment from Tracy
Time January 20, 2010 at 4:51 pm

Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

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