Researching a book on Canadian foreign policy, I have come across numerous examples of Canadian “aid” that benefited the rich at the expense of the poor.
In the late 1980s, for example, millions in Canadian aid flowed to the elite in the Negros region of the Philippines who were blocking much-needed land reform, sometimes with paramilitary violence.
Canada has been one of the world’s leading financiers of large hydro dams in the global south that have displaced indigenous and subsistence communities while major corporations (including Canadian engineering firms) reap the benefits.
In Haiti the use of Canadian “aid” as a tool of class war is well established. But you probably haven’t read about it in the local paper; it’s only come to light through the work of the Canada Haiti Action Network.
The media has failed to tie the massive rise in “aid” to Haiti, which shot up from a few million to a hundred million dollars a year, to Canada’s role in overthrowing the country’s elected government headed by President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
For the first 15 months of the post-coup regime, the deputy justice minister, Philipe Vixamar, was an employee of CIDA. His ministry was responsible for hundreds of political prisoners and a brutal police force. (The minister was an employee of USAID).
For the past three and a half years, the major recipient of Canadian aid has been the Haitian National Police (HNP), which without an army is the country’s only armed force (aside, of course, from the 7000 UN troops occupying the country). The salaries received by a hundred or so Canadian police officers in Haiti are counted as part of Canada’s aid contribution. A Quebec police commander working with the HNP told a University of Miami human rights investigation in November 2004 that he “engaged in daily guerilla war.” And the government’s new counterinsurgency field manual cites Haiti as an example of Canadian counterinsurgency activities.
The primary role of Canadian police has been to train and assist the HNP. This coincided with a brutal campaign of political repression waged by the HNP against supporters of the overthrown government. According to The Lancet medical journal, in the 22 months after Aristide was toppled the HNP killed an estimated 1700 people in Port-au-Prince alone.
Last month, Le Devoir quoted an unnamed official who said CIDA is spending $25 million to create a police academy to train Haitian officers. The article failed to mention the recent brutality of the HNP and their militarization under Canada’s watch. read more