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December 8, 2010

The Dignity of the Haitian Women (and Canada's Shame)

Dr. Michael Keefer

More by this author...

This essay, which has not previously been published in Canada, is concerned for the most part with events that occurred between early 2004 and August 2007. It is not in any sense "news," although it may to some degree contribute to an understanding of Haiti's vulnerability to subsequent natural disasters: the hurricanes of 2008 and the catastrophic earthquake of 2010.

Those disasters caused such appalling suffering in part because the overthrow of Haitian democracy in February 2004 by a coalition of foreign powers (in which Canada played a central role) was also a deliberate attack upon the government infrastructures that made up Haiti’s very fragile ‘civil commons.’ 

After the coup, these social-service infrastructures were either dismantled or else were immobilized by de-funding and by purges of personnel who had supported the democratically elected Aristide government.

Though dated, this essay contains analysis of matters that, despite the assiduous solidarity work of groups like the Canada Haiti Action Network (CHAN), as well as the writings of the activists and scholars cited in my notes, remain largely unknown to most Canadians.

1. Harper’s 2007 ‘Tour of the Americas’

Attentive readers of the Toronto Globe and Mail may have noticed an element of dissonance in its coverage of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s brief visit to Haiti during his stint of diplomacy in late July 2007. 

Despite spin from the Prime Minister’s Office’s about Harper’s gravitas and growing international weight, his “Tour of the Americas,” a journey to Colombia, Chile, Barbados and Haiti, was not an unmixed success. Its most memorable moment was Harper’s ringing endorsement of the entirely imaginary strides toward democracy being made by Colombia’s President Uribe, a man so tainted by his connections with death squads and the drug trade that even many Washington politicians recoil from the prospect of sharing a platform with him—let alone glibly offering him a free-trade agreement (Podur; Gordon).

In Chile, any good will garnered from Harper’s meeting with President Michelle Bachelet was promptly spoiled by the outrage of Toronto’s police force tasering and pepper-spraying members of Chile’s quarter-finalist soccer team, La Rojita, during Toronto’s hosting of the FIFA Under-Twenty championship (“Chile officials”). (Canadians should think about what it means to have, in our largest city, a police force so out of control as to be capable of shocking a nation that still retains vivid memories of its sufferings under Pinochet’s neofascist dictatorship.)

And Haiti’s President René Préval, who compared Harper’s six- or eight-hour whistle-stop stay in his country (Woods; Freeman) to a “doctor’s visit,” was quietly ironic at the prime minister’s expense. “You’ll have been able to notice, dear doctor, that the patient is not doing so badly,” he declared at a news conference in the presidential palace in Port-au-Prince. “Our country, Haiti, is in convalescence” (Freeman). The Globe and Mail mentioned Harper as having scheduled luncheon with Préval, an event that took all of fifteen minutes—or thirty-five minutes, if we add in the press conference (see Pierre). The PM preferred to spend his time pinning medals on Canadian police officers “for their participation in the peacekeeping mission,” and taking part in a pre-lunch photo-op (no doubt the source of Préval’s metaphors) at the Sainte Catherine Labouré Hospital in the slum of Cité Soleil, to which he was taken by “UN peacekeepers with automatic weapons at the ready” (Freeman).

2. Reading a photograph

It was this photo-op that provided readers of the Globe and Mail with an experience of dissonance. According to the text of the article, Harper was greeted at the hospital by two “adorable” four-year-old girls, whose mothers are HIV-positive, but who thanks to “a Canadian-financed drug treatment provided at the hospital” were both born HIV-negative “and are in excellent health.” Harper was soon “doing high-fives with the girls, who gave him a basket of fruit” (Freeman). The moment was captured in a photograph circulated by the Presse Canadienne (see Beltrane, “Harper démontre”).

And yet the Globe and Mail preferred to print another much stronger image from a subsequent phase of the photo-op. In this photograph, credited to Kena Betancur of Reuters, a smiling Harper is squatting, with forearms on his knees, in front of two strikingly beautiful Haitian women who are waiting with their small children in their laps at the Labouré Hospital’s oral polio vaccination clinic.[1]

Two features of the image are remarkable. The first is its obviously staged quality: Harper, whose posture puts his head lower than those of the two seated women, is with some show of humility taking credit for the rest of what we see—for the corrugated-iron-roofed building, with the logo of Médecins du Monde partially obscured by his shoulder, and for the treatments, financed by the Canadian and Québec governments, that Haitians are receiving there.

More remarkable still is the lack of human contact within the photograph. Harper’s smile seems oddly unfocussed: he is not quite looking at the camera, yet neither is he in contact with the women and their children. The child closest to him, a girl of about two in a frilly party dress and with a little Canadian flag in her right hand, is turning her head away from him; her mother, with downcast eyes and head gently tilted over her child, likewise ignores his presence. Mother and child both seem, in different ways, to be retreating from the event.

It might be objected that maternal solicitude is not a political position. And yet the expression of the other woman, who is seated closer to the camera, is unambiguous. She is not just refusing to participate: she is negating the photo-op by refusing even to acknowledge it. Her infant is asleep in her lap, head cradled by her hands. The camera is almost directly in front of her, at knee level, and Harper is likewise within her field of vision: he is close enough that he could, without rising from his crouch, touch her arm or the head of her child. But she holds herself erect, ignoring politician and photographer, and looks serenely and unsmilingly to her front.

This is no accidental gesture of abstention. For another photograph, taken moments earlier from almost the same angle, shows a prior phase of the photo-op. In that image Harper, who has not yet gone into his crouch, is standing in front of the first of the two mothers and leaning over the little girl in the frilly dress; the woman with the sleeping infant has turned her head toward this spectacle (see Beltrane, “Stephen Harper”). What we see in the Globe and Mail’s photograph is thus, quite explicitly, an act of refusal. She has understood the staged event, and with her steady gaze negates it and its intended meanings.

How are we to read the silent contestation of Harper’s smiling face by this young woman’s gaze?

The earlier photograph of Harper leaning over the little girl in the frilly dress was provided in the Presse Canadienne report with a caption tactfully informing us that his approach was a failure: the Prime Minister “a semblé mal à l’aise par moments en s’approchant des enfants haïtiens brandissant de petits drapeaux canadiens”—he “seemed awkward at times in approaching Haitian children brandishing little Canadian flags” (Beltrane, “Stephen Harper”; my translation). So what are we to make of his smile in the Globe and Mail photograph? It cannot reflect pleasure given or received—and yet Harper’s mouth is slightly open, as though he were on the point of speaking, or even laughing. Is he ruefully amused by the Haitian women’s rejection of his approach, or struggling to seem so? Is he responding to someone standing behind the photographer? Or have image consultants told him that a close-lipped smile may look smug, while a smile showing parted lips and teeth signifies the bonhommie that is so conspicuously not part of his character? 

One might then say of Harper’s smile that it dismisses or forgets the immediate human situation—the minor reversal of a little girl turning away from him, and the larger affront of two beautiful young women refusing the role of props in a photo-op—while remembering his political purpose in being seen there, which was to reinforce what he would say to the press just minutes later: “Canadians can be proud of the impact that Canadian aid and support of the UN-backed peacekeeping mission are having on the country” (Freeman).

Images of Stephen Harper smiling disingenuous smiles are no rarity. It is quite clearly the other, unsmiling face—or, more distinctly, the dissonance between this woman’s expression and Harper’s—that makes this photograph memorable. Yet while the young mother’s posture of refusal is dignified and explicit, it is also wordless. It does not seem that any of the reporters in Harper’s entourage took the trouble of asking her what she may have meant by it.

What then are readers of the Globe and Mail to think? That one Haitian woman, at least, remains stolidly ungrateful to our country for all its manifold benefactions to hers—including her own infant’s vaccination against polio? Or is it possible she knows something about “Canadian aid and support of the UN-backed peacekeeping mission” that we don’t—and that our government and corporate media have been taking some trouble to conceal from us? 

3. Helping Haiti ‘get back on its feet’: the official line

On July 20th, 2007, the day of Prime Minister Harper’s visit, the Globe and Mail devoted a full page to explaining Canada’s relations to this desperately impoverished country. The basic narrative was made clear by the title and subtitle of Marcus Gee’s lead article: “Canadian aid helping Haiti get back on its feet: Though the country still faces huge problems, efforts to stabilize and rebuild are yielding signs of progress.”

The problems Gee identified include a “prostrate economy,” “a ruined environment,” “a jobless rate near 70 per cent,” a daily income of less than $1 (US) for half of the population and of less than $2 for three-quarters of Haitians, and a standing of “154th out of 177 countries on the UN’s index of human development.” Demographic data listed on the same page helped to fill out the picture. The median age of Haiti’s 8,700,000 people is 18.4 years; nearly half of those aged 15 or over are illiterate; and the adult prevalence rate of HIV-AIDS is 5.6 per cent. The infant mortality rate is almost 64 deaths per 1,000 live births, and life expectancy at birth is 57 years (Cowan; figures rounded off).

Gee gives Canada credit as “one of the leaders of the international effort to stabilize and rebuild Haiti,” noting that Canada “has sent more than $700-million in aid since 1968 and has pledged another $520-million for 2006 to 2011,” giving to Haiti more than to “any country in the world except Afghanistan.” Some of Canada’s aid money, as Gee observes, went into financing a Canadian military presence in Haiti: “More than 500 Canadian troops served in the UN peace-keeping mission in Haiti until coming home in August 2004. Canadian officers led the UN police force, which still includes about 175 Canadian police officers, for two successive terms.” He neglects to say that the expense of an earlier military presence in Haiti in the mid-1990s (a full battalion of the Canadian army, and a contingent of police) would likewise have been counted as “aid.” (We will have something to say in a moment about the coups d’état of 1991 and 2004 associated with these interventions.)

As a whole, the Globe and Mail’s narrative seems puzzling. Alluding to the “three decades of terror and repression” suffered by the country “under François (Papa Doc) Duvalier and his son Jean-Claude, known as Baby Doc, who ruled with the help of the dreaded Tonton Macoutes secret police,” Marcus Gee tells us that Haiti “was reduced to beggary by dictators, generals and drug lords.” The present situation, he says, “is a definite improvement from the time just three years ago [i.e. in 2004] when there were almost daily clashes among armed gangs, rogue policemen and UN peacekeepers.” He quotes the Brussels International Crisis Group’s opinion that Haiti “has an historic opportunity to design a democratic future and establish conditions conducive to economic development,” and adds that “the result of the 2006 presidential election, considered the most fair of five held in the past two decades, has been generally accepted, even if supporters of ex-president Jean-Bertrand Aristide still hold rallies calling for his return from exile” (Gee).   

And yet Gee fears that “Haiti could easily tip into turmoil again.” He quotes Daniel Erikson of the group Inter-American Dialogue in Washington DC, according to whom “Haiti is a tough case. This is a country that has received millions and millions of dollars in aid and hasn’t shown much progress.” Despite external interventions consisting only, by this account, of generous aid programs, equally generous peacekeeping and policing assistance, and anxious expressions of concern, Haiti remains a basket case. 

Is there something wrong then with Haitians, a kind of inborn gravitation towards squalor, violence and turmoil? Or is there, on the other hand, something missing from this story? Has it been given, by selective omissions, a meaning quite different from what one would derive from a more complete, a more adequate, and a more honest narrative? Is it, in short, subtractively politicized?[2]

4. Who knocked Haiti off its feet? 

Marcus Gee’s account of Canada’s relations with Haiti has a vaguely Good-Samaritan quality, but with this difference—that in Jesus’s parable, the man whom the Good Samaritan found bleeding by the roadside, and to whom he gave such generous aid, both medical and financial, was not suffering from self-inflicted wounds: he had fallen “among robbers who stripped and belaboured him and then went off leaving him half-dead” (Luke 10: 30, in Moffatt). 

External interventions in Haiti have, as a matter of historical fact, been very much less beneficent than the Globe and Mail’s narrative, or many similarly structured ones published at intervals in the corporate media, would imply. Who then, are the robbers that have stripped and beaten this poor country and left it prostrate in the ditch? Are they perhaps, in fact, the same people who now pose as Haiti’s benefactors?  The short answer is: Yes.

At different moments in its history, Haiti has challenged in a most extraordinary manner the imperial powers exercising hegemony in the Caribbean region. The country was born out of a slave revolt that began in 1791 and, at appalling cost, succeeded in defeating the forces of the planter aristocracy, armies sent by Spain and Britain, and finally, an expeditionary force dispatched in 1801 by Napoleon (James). Haiti’s achievement of formal independence in 1804 was profoundly disquieting to the European colonial powers and the slave-holding United States. Peter Hallward has written that “Of the three great revolutions that began in the final decades of the eighteenth century—American, French, and Haitian—only the third forced the unconditional application of the principle that inspired each one: affirmation of the natural, unalienable rights of all human beings. Only in Haiti was the declaration of human freedom universally consistent. Only in Haiti was this declaration sustained at all costs, in direct opposition to the social order and economic logic of the day” (Hallward 2007: 11). 

Haiti has indeed paid a heavy price for this challenge to the ruling global order—in the form of a sustained history of predatory interventions by colonial powers, and of no less predatory externally-supported dictatorships.[3] But in its presidential election of 1990, Haitians astonished the world once more—and the United States especially—by giving an overwhelming 66.7 per cent of their votes to a young priest and liberation theologian, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who had become a focal point of resistance to the murderous violence of rule by military dictatorship and death squads (see Wilentz). Aristide made it clear that he was not willing to serve as a sock-puppet for elite and transnational interests, but actually intended to fulfill the program on which he had been elected. Its foundational principle, a steadfast assertion of radical human dignity and human equality—“tout moun se moun,” glossed by Peter Hallward as meaning that “every person is indeed a person, regardless of their race, background or class”—was to be actualized through a uniting and empowerment of the great mass of the poor in a process of democratic social transformation, of non-violent struggle against iniquitous class divisions (Hallward 2007: xxxiv, 21-24). After just seven months in office, Aristide was overthrown in September 1991 by a CIA-sponsored coup.

Re-elected in November 2000,[4] this time with 92 per cent of the vote (and a voter turn-out of 62 per cent, even though US-backed candidates had tried to discredit the election by urging their supporters not to vote), Aristide was overthrown again on the night of February 28-29, 2004.

The 1991 coup was followed by a reign of terror in which 4,000 to 5,000 civilians were murdered (Flynn and Roth; Lemoine). Some 300,000 Haitians became internal refugees; “thousands more fled across the border to the Dominican Republic, and more than 60,000 took to the high seas” (Parks, quoted by Chossudovsky). A similar bloodbath followed the 2004 coup. Its scale is indicated by a peer-reviewed study published in The Lancet which revealed that in the Port-au-Prince region alone some 8,000 murders and 35,000 sexual assaults were committed between the end of February 2004 and December 2005 under the rule of the coup regime, the Interim Government of Haiti; nearly 4,000 of these murders were clearly politically motivated and committed by security forces or partisans of the regime (Kolbe and Hudson). Sexual assault was one form of state terror: nearly one-quarter of the perpetrators were identified as members of the Haitian National Police or of anti-Aristide groups (Sanders, “The Coup-Installed Regime” 8; Buncombe; “Haiti—The Traditional Predators”).

One crucial difference between the two coups is that the former, though supported materially and diplomatically by the US, was carried out by the Haitian military, with the assistance of paramilitary formations and death squads controlled by Haiti’s economic elite; the latter was planned, organized, and executed—in what can appropriately be termed a state crime against democracy—by three foreign powers, the United States, France, and Canada.[5]

All three flew troops into Haiti, ostensibly to protect their interests at a time of crisis—the crisis being an invasion of northern Haiti from the Dominican Republic, beginning on February 5th, by detachments of US-armed paramilitaries who swiftly overwhelmed the lightly-armed police in a series of northern towns and small cities—but who, despite a vigorous propaganda campaign abetted by the US Secretary of State, had neither the capacity nor the intention of making a move on the capital, Port-au-Prince, and prior to the coup never got beyond Gonaïves, nearly one hundred kilometers to the north (see R. Robinson 86, 196, 204, 212).

The coup was well organized. It took place on the very day a shipload of small arms Aristide’s government had purchased from South Africa—weapons that would have enabled the Haitian police to fight back against the paramilitary invaders on equal terms—was due to arrive in Port-au-Prince (Hallward 2006). US troops abducted Aristide from the presidential palace and brought him to Port-au-Prince airport, which had been seized by the Canadian Joint Task Force 2 Special Forces; from there he was flown to the French-controlled Central African Republic. The three countries then formed a “Multilateral Interim Force,” which occupied the country, allowing the opposition forces the aggressors had sponsored and financed to purge the elected government and the Haitian police and take power.

5. Canada’s responsibility

Canada played an important part in the preparations for the 2004 coup. Beginning in 2000, Canada took the lead internationally in propagating new doctrines of “humanitarian intervention” and the “responsibility to protect” (R2P), which directly contradict the United Nations’ founding principles of national sovereignty and the outlawing of military interventions.[6] The Canadian government’s official human rights organization, Rights & Democracy, responded to Aristide’s re-election by issuing a statement, together with five US-based groups, that questioned “his own and the [1996-2000] Préval government’s commitment to democracy” (“Joint Statement”). It made further contributions to a propaganda campaign delegitimizing Haiti’s government by accusing Aristide’s Fanmi Lavalas party of primary responsibility for gun violence in Haiti and describing the “Group 184” opposition movement led by sweatshop owner Andy Apaid as “grassroots” and a “promising civil society movement” (see “Justice”; Engler, “NGOs” and “Canada’s NED?”)—this at a time when most of the actual violence was being perpetrated by the paramilitaries, allied to Apaid, which in July 2001 had begun to conduct raids and terrorist operations from the Dominican Republic (Barry-Shaw).

On January 31-February 1, 2003, Denis Paradis, Canadian Secretary of State for Latin America and La Francophonie, convened a meeting in Ottawa of American, French, Canadian and Organization of American States (OAS) officials to discuss a coup against Aristide, the reconstituting of Haiti’s military, “and the option of imposing a Kosovo-like trusteeship on Haiti” (Barry-Shaw; Engler and Fenton 42-45). Canadian governing circles were well aware of the manner in which the International Republican Institute (IRI), the external arm of the US Republican Party, was financing and organizing the activities of Apaid’s movement and the attacks of the paramilitaries. Former Foreign Affairs Minister Barbara McDougall was a member of the IRI’s Haiti International Assessment Committee, and appears to have provided liaison between the IRI and the Canadian government; and the then-current Foreign Affairs Minister, Pierre Pettigrew, met in Montréal with the political leader of the paramilitaries on February 5, 2004—the day they launched their full-scale attack on Haiti (Sanders, “Pettigrew”; R. Robinson 155; Fenton and O’Keefe). On February 11, Canadian Ambassador to Haiti Kenneth Cook wrote a memo to the Privy Council Office and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade “which discusses specific plans for military intervention” (Fenton and Jay).

Canadian officials bear a heavy responsibility as well for the murderous repression that followed the coup. Three examples will give some sense of the scale of the problem. When Lt. Colonel Jim Davis, the commander of Canadian forces in the Multilateral Interim Force, was presented on July 29, 2004 with eyewitness testimony that dozens of civilians had been killed by international forces in an attack on a Port-au-Prince slum on March 12, and with evidence that at least 1,000 people had been buried in a mass grave in Port-au-Prince within a month of “restoring stability,” he responded austerely: “I do not deny that these things have happened” (Fenton). After the coup, the RCMP provided training for the Haitian National Police and exercised a function of tutelage: RCMP officers cannot have been ignorant of the HNP’s rape and death squad activities, and of the well-documented sniper teams it sent out to attack peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations (Pina). The coup regime’s Deputy Minister of Justice, who presided over a prison system that even the OAS condemned as horrifying, was both appointed and paid by the Canadian International Development Agency (see Griffin; Neatby, “The Politics”; Haiti: Failed Justice vi-vii, 67-71. 87-91).

What did Canadian soldiers and police officers think they were doing in Haiti? Military statements give some impression of a deliberately inculcated confusion. The Canadian army’s draft counter-insurgency field manual, made public in March 2007, says that Canadian troops have been “conducting COIN [counter-insurgency] operations against the criminally-based insurgency in Haiti since early 2004” (Elmer and Fenton). Of course, the only actual “criminally-based insurgency” of early 2004 (unless one counts the US-French-Canadian invasion) was the paramilitaries’ incursion from the Dominican Republic.

The Canadian Air Force’s account of its initial large-scale deployment to Haiti in March 2004 is equally muddled: the Air Force boasted of how, “Working with the army and navy within the UN Multinational Interim Force, Canada’s air force helped to restore peace and democracy in Haiti following that country’s democratic elections” (“Serving the World”). What phantom election was the writer imagining, and why would a foreign invasion have been required in its aftermath to “restore peace and democracy”?[7]

6. Conclusion

One can begin to understand Stephen Harper’s chilly welcome in 2007 by the young women at the Sainte Catherine Labouré Hospital—and also, according to the Vancouver Sun, by the residents of Cité Soleil, through whose streets he passed to get to his photo-op: “Armed Brazilian soldiers from the United Nations stabilization mission were on every street corner as his motorcade made its way through neighbourhoods filled with ramshackle homes and storefronts pock-marked by bullet holes […]. Residents stared at the passing Canadian vehicles with moody detachment. Few smiled or waved” (Foot). 

In fact, a demonstration had been planned to protest Harper’s visit. One of its organizers was the prominent human rights activist, Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine, who had also courageously denounced the post-coup UN occupation of his country as a mission neither of stabilization nor of peacekeeping: “It is a mission that engages in operations of massacres, of assassinations, [and] of destabilization more so than activities of reconstruction and peacekeeping.” Pierre-Antoine’s demonstration never took place: it was preemptively disrupted by UN soldiers, who, starting at 6 a.m., arrested some forty would-be demonstrators, three-quarters of whom remained in prison a fortnight later (Neatby, “UN Arrested 40”).

Three weeks after Stephen Harper’s visit, on the night of August 12th, Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine ‘disappeared’ by unknown assailants. It can be assumed that he was murdered, but his body has never been found. Canadian trade unionists who were being guided through Haiti by Pierre-Antoine went the next day to our embassy in Port-au-Prince to request that the embassy publicly condemn this kidnapping. The Canadian embassy’s refusal to issue any statement leaves one to assume that our diplomats—one of whom, I am informed, described Pierre-Antoine as a trouble-maker—believe he got what was coming to him.

Right-wing pundits from Conrad Black to David Frum have for decades been urging Canadians to drop our traditional humanitarian scruples and to join our American neighbours in treating international relations as a game of hardball, to be played by hard men.

Another name for the game is “crimes against humanity.”

Are we there yet?

Works Cited

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Bellegarde-Smith, Patrick.  Haiti: The Breached Citadel.  Toronto: Canadian Scholars’ Press, 2004.

Beltrane, Julian.  “Harper démontre les efforts canadiens d’aide à Cité Soleil.”  Presse Canadienne (20 July 2007); -- “Stephen Harper entre dans Cité Soleil.”  Press Canadienne (20 July 2007); available at,

Buncombe, Andrew.  “Police and political groups linked to Haiti sex attacks.”  The Independent (4 September 2006), --“Chile officials blame T.O. police for soccer brawl.”  CTV News (20 July 2007),

Chossudovsky, Michel.  “The Destabilization of Haiti.”  Centre for Research on Globalization (29 February 2004),

Cooley-Prost, Elizabeth.  “Democracy Intervention: A Who’s Who of NGOs.”  In ONG, Groupes de Base et Démocratie en Haiti, Excerpt from the seminar held on April 24th, 25th and 26th 1992, Association québécoise des organismes de coopération internationale (AQOCI),

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Dupuy, Alex.  Prophet and Power: Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the International Community and Haiti.  New York: Rowan & Littlefield, 2007. 

Elmer, Jon, and Anthony Fenton.  “Canada’s Counterinsurgency Strategy.”  ZNet (27 March 2007),

Engler, Yves. “NGOs and Haiti.”  ZNet (7 January 2006), --  “Canada’s NED?”  ZNet (16 September 2006), -- and Anthony Fenton.  Canada in Haiti: Waging War on the Poor Majority.  Vancouver: Red Publishing, and Black Point, N.S. and Winnipeg: Fernwood Publishing, 2005.

Farmer, Paul. The Uses of Haiti. 3rd ed. Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press, 2006. -- Pathologies of Power: Health, Human Rights, and the New War on the Poor.  Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005.

Fatton, Robert.  Haiti’s Predatory Republic: The Unending Transition to Democracy.  Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2002.

Fenton, Anthony.  “Canada in Haiti: Who Engineered the Overthrow of Democracy?”  The Dominion (25 August 2004), -- and Dru Oja Jay.  “Declassifying Canada in Haiti: Canadian officials planned military intervention weeks before Haitian coup.”  Centre for Research on Globalization (10 April 2006),  -- and Derrick O’Keefe.  “Canada in the Haitian Coup.”  ZNet (21 September 2004),

Flynn, Laura, and Robert Roth.  We Will Not Forget! The Achievements of Lavalas in Haiti.  Berkeley: Haiti Action Committee, February 2005. 

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Gee, Marcus.  “Canadian aid helping Haiti get back on its feet.  Globe and Mail (20 July 2007): A13.

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Gordon, Todd.  “Building its Ties to Colombia: Canada’s Imperial Adventure in the Andes.” Centre for Research on Globalization (27 May 2008),

Griffin, Thomas M.  Haiti Human Rights Investigation: November 11-21, 2004.  Center for the Study of Human Rights, University of Miami School of Law. Epica Books: 2005.  Haiti: Failed Justice or the Rule of Law? Washington, DC: Organization of American States Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, 26 October 2006) “Haiti—The Traditional Predators.”  Medialens (11 September 2006).

Hallward, Peter. “‘One Step at a Time’: An Interview with Jean-Bertrand Aristide.”  HaitiAnalysis (20 July 2006),’one-step-at-a-time’-an-interview-aith-jean-bertrand-aristide --  Damming the Flood: Haiti, Aristide, and the Politics of Containment.  London and New York: Verso, 2007.

James, C.L.R.  The Black Jacobins.  1938; 2nd ed., 1963; rpt. New York: Vintage Books, 1989. “Joint Statement by International Human Rights Organizations on Haiti.”  Rights & Democracy (5 February 2001),  “Justice for Jean Dominique.”  Rights & Democracy (3 April 2002), 

Keefer, Michael.  Lunar Perspectives: Field Notes from the Culture Wars. Toronto: Anansi, 1996. --  “Fraud and Scandal in Haiti’s Presidential Election: Préval’s Victory and the UN’s Disgrace.”  Centre for Research on Globalization (3 March 2006),

Kolbe, Athena R., and Royce A. Hutson.  “Human rights abuse and other criminal violations in Port-au-Prince, Haiti: a random survey of households.”  The Lancet, vol. 368, no. 9538 (2 September 2006), available at

Moffatt, James, trans. A New Translation of the Bible. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1926.

Neatby, Stuart.  “The Politics of Finger Wagging: Canada, the UN and ‘Judicial Reform’ in Haiti.”  ZNet (19 April 2006), “UN Arrested 40 Ahead of Harper’s Haiti Visit,” The Dominion (3 August 2007),

Parks, Dina Paul (Executive Director, National Coalition for Haitian Rights).  “Statement to the US Senate Judiciary Committee, Washington DC, 1 October 2002.”

Pierre, Wadner. “Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper Visits Haiti.” (23 July 2007),

Pina, Kevin, dir.  We Must Kill the Bandits.  Documentary film, 90 minutes, 2009.  Available from Haiti Information Project,

Podur, Justin. “The Harper-Uribe Handshake.” ZNet (22 July 2007),

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Robinson, William I.  Promoting Polyarchy: Globalization, U.S. Intervention, and Hegemony.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996.

Sanders, Richard.  “R2P: Typecasting Canada as Hero in Theatres of War.” Press for Conversion! Issue #60 (March 2007): 11-12, --  “The Coup-Installed Regime and its Reign of Terror.”  Press for Conversion! Issue #60 (March 2007): 7-9, -- “Pettigrew Met with Coup’s ‘Political Mastermind’.”  Press for Conversion! Issue #60 (March 2007): 31, “Serving the World, Peace Support, UN Mission.”  Canada’s Air Force website,

Shamsie, Yasmine.  “Building ‘low-intensity’ democracy in Haiti: the OAS contribution.”  Third World Quarterly 26:6 (September 2004): 1097-1115.

Wilentz, Amy.  The Rainy Season: Haiti Since Duvalier.  1989; 2nd ed. London: Vintage, 1994.

Woods, Allan. “‘Extraordinary challenges’ faced by Haiti, Harper says.” Toronto Star (21 July 2007): A15;


[1] The same photograph appeared in the Toronto Star with the print (but not the online) text of Woods.

[2] ‘Subtractive politicizing’ involves distortion through omission: what is there to be interpreted is ‘politicized’ through a selective forgetting or deletion that critically alters the balance of the available evidence. For a detailed explanation of this term, see the chapter “Monster Zombies on Campus” in Keefer 1996: 67-95. 

[3] A salient feature of this history was France’s 1825 imposition on Haiti of a debt worth some $21-billion US in present-day money as reimbursement for losses suffered by French colonists, including the liberated Haitians’ market value as slaves. The ensuing debt-bondage choked off any chance of independent development (payments in the late 19th century swallowed up some 80 per cent of Haiti’s national budget). The final installment was paid only in 1947—to the US, which had held Haiti under military occupation between 1915 and 1934, killing up to 30,000 people in the process (Bellegarde-Smith 107). For accounts of this history, see Farmer 2006: 53-89; Hallward 2007: 12-13; Engler and Fenton 103-04; R. Robinson 20-22; and also Wilentz, Fatton, Dupuy, and Goff.

[4] Since Haiti’s Constitution prevents a president from serving two consecutive terms, Aristide was not a candidate in the 1995 election—which was won by his former Prime Minister René Préval, with a landslide 88 percent of the vote.

[5] One reason for this is that when Aristide was restored by the US in 1994 to serve out the end of his term as a lame-duck president, he disbanded the Haitian army, the primary instrument of dictatorship and tyranny. Since the 2004 coup, it has been reconstituted (and manned, need it be said, by reliably anti-democratic officers and troops).

[6] In September 2000, the Canadian government founded the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS), with its head office in Ottawa (and with funding from the Carnegie, MacArthur, and Rockefeller foundations); through this and other means, Canada has vigorously promoted “R2P” and “humanitarian intervention.” See Sanders “R2P” 11.

[7] The 2004 coup inflicted much deeper structural damage upon Haitian society as well, corrupting its electoral machinery (Keefer 2006), and radically accelerating a process in which governmental functions have been usurped by foreign NGOs—with catastrophic consequences for the country’s capacity to provide basic supplies of water and food, basic health care and education, and, no less crucially, its capacity to respond to catastrophes like the hurricanes of 2008 and the appalling earthquake of 2010. (See Cooley-Prost, W. Robinson, Shamsie.) But these are matters for more extended study.

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Dotan Rousso. Holds a Ph.D. in Law—a former criminal prosecutor in Israel. Currently working as a college professor in Canada.

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