Last month Haiti’s outgoing colonial administrator Gerard Latortue paid a visit to Canada, dropping in for a chat with prime minister Stephen Harper and next day with Quebec premier Jean Charest.
In both Ottawa and Quebec he was met by angry protesters on the street, but only cordial goodwill in the halls of power.
Latortue is the Haitian-American businessman whose so-called interim government was installed into power by Canada, France, and the US in a 2004 coup d’etat that drove the popular elected president, Jean Bertrand Aristide, out of office and into exile.
Peopled by wealthy Floridians, old death-squad commanders, drug-runners, and bandits, Latortue’s government has been predictably repressive.
All the major figures in Fanmi Lavalas, Aristide’s governing party, are dead or in prison, as are thousands of their supporters. Most are held without charge, the charges against others are trumped-up.
The Haitian National Police practice extra-judicial murder, illegal detention and excessive use of force.
They fire on peaceful demonstrators, and with the help of their UN backers conduct military operations in crowded ghettos, leaving behind a trail of dead civilians.
In February, despite the best efforts of Latortue’s administration, the people of Haiti succeeded in electing a president of their own choosing.
The majority of Haitians would have preferred to see Aristide back, or Father Gerard Jean-Juste released from prison, but of all the candidates who were free to run, Rene Preval was overwhelmingly the people’s choice.
Latortue and his regime, backed by the UN, did their best to steal the vote, but they were no match for the will of the Haitian people.
Haitians took to the streets in huge peaceful demonstrations and demanded that the obvious and only possible outcome of the election be honoured, and Preval declared the uncontested winner.
So the question arises, why is Latortue meeting Canada’s prime minister and Quebec’s premier a month after Preval has been elected?
Why do Harper and Charest agree to meet with an outgoing, interim leader during a time of transition, let alone with a known perpetrator of crimes against humanity and massive election fraud?
It’s as if, one month after the Orange Revolution, Canada had welcomed the ousted Yanukovitch, instead of the victorious Yuschenko.
What can two of the country’s most senior politicians have to say to the discredited administrator of a brief but bloody colonial regime?
They were almost certainly discussing some aspect of Canada’s and Quebec’s foreign aid to Haiti, and the best means of ensuring that it continues to be spent on the project for which it’s intended — the globalization of trade, and the protection of the sweatshop economy.
In this project Latortue is a valued ally, and Preval is the enemy.
Preval has promised his supporters reform of the kind Aristide brought, or tried to bring, to Haiti, such as minimum-wage laws with no exemptions for sweatshops, and subsidies to help protect Haitian farmers from the devastation caused by the influx of cheap, often subsidized American and Canadian produce.
It will take political genius for Preval to succeed, and for democracy to prevail in Haiti.
With so many of his supporters and allies in prison, and a continuing program of repression against Lavalas, it’s unlikely that the upcoming parliamentary elections will be fair.
Preval will in all likelihood find himself hobbled by a hostile parliament, obstructed by the Haitian ruling class, and manipulated by Canadian and US aid agencies, governments, and business interests.
Since Preval’s election in early February the Latortue regime has been stalling on handing over power.
The latest estimate on when the president-elect can actually take office is May 15.
One week after the election, Latortue signed an agreement with the UN that would have placed Haiti’s police force under UN control indefinitely.
Again the Haitian people expressed their will in massive peaceful protests, and again Latortue backed down, claiming he hadn’t read the fine print before signing the deal.
Haiti is embroiled in a class war.
The poor, who are vast in numbers, favour minimum wage laws, tariffs on subsidized foreign imports, the construction of schools and hospitals, and programs to upgrade their miserable living conditions.
Their leaders are social-gospel Catholic priests and left-wing populist politicians.
The largely Haitian-American ruling class favors globalization.
Their leaders are sweatshop owners and secret policemen, and their numbers are few.
Unfettered democracy threatens Haiti’s stability, defined as its ability to produce cheap trade goods while consuming American rice and Canadian wheat, and to this the wealthy nations respond with violence and repression.
The characterization of UN forces in Haiti as peacekeepers is obscene.
The UN is in Haiti to protect a brutal, repressive ruling class who would otherwise be overwhelmed and destroyed by their enemies, the teeming poor.
In ghetto gun battles the blue-helmets aren’t there to place themselves between warring factions, they are there to exercise deadly force on the side of the HNP.
That’s why Latortue is visiting Stephen Harper when he should be cleaning out his desk and heading home to his Florida mansion.
He’s on a mission to subvert democracy in Haiti, to ensure that Preval’s presidency will be hogtied by foreign control and right-wing infiltration into every institution in the country.
Confronted with the choice between democracy and globalization, I wonder what Harper chose.