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Haiti reconstruction conference must respect sovereignty and empower ordinary Haitians

Militarization of aid is a bad omen

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ottawa – Monday, January 25

The Canada Haiti Action Network is concerned that Monday’s international Haiti reconstruction conference in Montreal will be used to benefit foreign economic interests at the expense of ordinary Haitians.

“The genuine solidarity and generosity Canadians have expressed toward Haiti must not be exploited by Prime Minister Harper and other government leader,” said network spokesperson Kevin Skerrett in Ottawa today.

“Canadians want to see assistance provided to Haiti that will empower ordinary Haitians, not enrich multi-national corporations.”

The network argues that foreign interventions in Haiti have until now only benefitted the wealthy Haitian elite and foreign investors. They have brought only misery to ordinary Haitians.

“The worst recent example of foreign interference was the overthrow of Haiti’s elected government in February 2004, with the backing of the United States, Canada and France,” says Skerrett. Foreign interference in Haiti’s affairs is a perennial problem, and one that dates back to the crushing, 100-year debt burden imposed on Haiti by France in 1825.”

The number of U.S., Canadian and other foreign soldiers in Haiti may soon top 30,000. That’s more per square kilometre than in war-torn Afghanistan.

The Haiti solidarity network fears that the self-appointed ‘friends of Haiti’ who will attend today’s Montreal conference – the same powers responsible for the 2004 coup d’état – will promote the kind of ‘disaster capitalist’ model written about in Naomi Klein’s 2007 book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.

The Montreal section of the network has issued a call for a protest action at noontime outside the conference center in Montreal where the international gathering is to take place.

For more information: Roger Annis in Vancouver at 778 858 5179, or Yves Engler in Montreal at 514 618 2253.

Representatives of the Canada Haiti Action Network are available to speak to media in cities across Canada. Consult the “About CHAN” page on the CHAN website: http://canadahaitiaction.ca/

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