(February 20) – Today the Canadian government is hosting a ministerial meeting of the Lima Group in Ottawa-Gatineau. For the information of readers, we are reposting two recent articles by Margaret Villamizar, a journalist with TML Weekly and specialist on Latin American affairs on the recent “visit” of Juan Guaidó as part of his two-week U.S.-sponsored “world tour”, and the forces in motion in Latin America and the Caribbean with the dawn of 2020. In addition, we feature reports from Venezuela and Cuba, as well as the 10th anniversary of the devastating earthquake in Haiti commemorated inMontreal.
Canada Honours Venezuelan Imposter: Trudeau Government Brings Shame on Itself
By MARGARET VILLAMIZAR
On January 26, it was made public, with one day’s notice, that the imposter who calls himself the “interim president” of Venezuela, Juan Guaidó, was being brought to Canada to meet with Prime Minister Trudeau and Foreign Minister François-Philippe Champagne.
The European tour that preceded his trip to Canada did little to achieve its purpose of shoring up his battered image at home. While British Prime Minister Boris Johnson welcomed him in presidential style at his official residence, Guaidó’s encounter with President Emmanuel Macron of France, the only other head of state who received him – but as “deputy Guaidó” – was more private and low key. Prime Minister of Spain Pedro Sanchez refused to receive him and sent his newly appointed Foreign Minister to meet him away from government premises. Some others, such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and prime ministers from the Netherlands, Austria and Greece, are said to have spoken briefly with him on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where his biggest disappointment was the failure to at least get a photo op with Donald Trump, who had already left before Guaidó arrived. The Trudeau government did its best to save the situation in Davos by hosting a meeting for Guaidó of ambassadors to the European Parliament of Lima Group countries.
But in Ottawa, his last official stop – in what his handlers now call a “world tour” – before heading to the U.S. and another attempt to appear beside his big boss Trump, the Trudeau government received Guaidó in the manner he wanted. This imposter is more and more despised at home as a corrupt and untrustworthy individual by those who a year ago supported his phony “presidency,” to the extent that one of his rivals was elected to replace him as president of the National Assembly. Yet in Canada he was received by the Prime Minister in his Parliament Hill office and paraded around as “President Guaidó,” with Minister Champagne often dropping the “interim” part of this bogus title. Trudeau said he praised the U.S. puppet and coup monger in their meeting for “the leadership he’s shown in his efforts to return democracy to Venezuela” and offered him “our continued support.
After his meeting with Trudeau and press conference with Champagne, and of course the required photo ops, Guaidó was whisked off to the Parliamentary Gallery where he was introduced to a House full of MPs, given it was the opening day of the current sitting. They dutifully gave “his excellency the interim president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela” – as he was addressed by the Speaker – loud applause and a standing ovation.
While it is not known if there were any MPs present in the House who declined to participate in this dishonourable activity, there certainly were no statements by any party leaders or spokespersons expressing opposition to Guaidó – a seditious coup plotter – being received by the Prime Minister of Canada and in Parliament as a champion of democracy. That role fell to the Canadian people who protested his visit in their own name with a militant demonstration on Parliament Hill, and to one Member of Parliament, the NDP representative for Churchill – Keewatinook Aski in Manitoba, Niki Ashton, who spoke for herself, tweeting: “Shameful to see @JustinTrudeau prop up an unelected figure and seek to legitimize a deeply divisive and undemocratic agenda. This visit is the opposite of supporting peace and democracy.”
Other MPs and parties have much to answer for, and need to be held to account by Canadians for their complicity in the Trudeau government’s appeasement of the U.S. and subservience to its criminal agenda against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and its people.
Guaidó’s closing act in Ottawa was to speak to “the Venezuelan diaspora” at a rally of sorts hosted for him at allsaints Event Space by the Ottawa Branch of the Canadian International Council (CIC). Canadian government officials were also in attendance and introduced at the event. The CIC president, Ben Rowswell, Canada’s former ambassador to Venezuela, was the MC. Rowswell’s main function during his term in office from 2014 to 2017 was to use Canada’s embassy in Caracas as a headquarters for subversion through an aggressive U.S.-style “democracy promotion” campaign to support the cause of foreign-backed opposition groups in the country.
Not everything went smoothly for the imposter, however, in his triumphal Ottawa visit. No sooner had word got out about Guaidó’s response to Minister Champagne saying Canada would intercede (again) with Cuba to have it “become part of the solution as opposed to the problem in Venezuela” than the U.S. Undersecretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Michael Kozak pounced. Guaidó told reporters, “With respect to Cuba, we are going to move forward, we want them to be part of the solution.” Kozak let it be known he had gone off script and made it clear that “Cuba is not the solution to the problems of the Venezuelan people; it’s the problem.”
This forced Guaidó’s “ambassador” to Canada and his press office to go into damage control mode. The false Venezuelan ambassador declared that Guaidó at no time spoke about negotiating with Cuba and that “on the contrary he denounced the illegitimate, abusive and shameful interference of the Cuban dictatorship, such that getting out of the crisis means ending its occupation [of Venezuela].” A statement was hastily issued by Guaidó’s “government” listing all the hostile actions it was taking, such as prohibiting the shipment of Venezuelan oil to Cuba and calling on other countries to help enforce it, as well as asking “presidents of Latin America and the U.S.” to issue sanctions against Cuba. It said the only possible role for Cuba in Venezuela was to have its functionaries leave the country. For good measure, the statement pledged Guaidó’s support for the U.S. regime-change agenda in Nicaragua and Cuba, in anticipation of his one publicly announced event in the United States – an address in Miami on February 1 to a gathering of counterrevolutionaries clamouring for the U.S. to deliver “freedom” to those countries as well as to Venezuela.
Guaidó’s pathetic flip-flop on the question of Cuba to ingratiate himself with both the Trudeau government while in Ottawa and his real masters in Washington was not lost on Venezuelans, especially those aligned with opposition factions that have lost all faith in him. Many of them mocked Guaidó for thinking he could “please both god and the devil” without suffering the consequences. So ended another leg of his emperor-with-no-clothes “world tour,” on which he was met wherever he went by groups of people denouncing his presence, the illegitimate mission he was on, and any support given to him by the governments of their countries.
In this regard, the Canadians who demonstrated on Parliament Hill on January 27 spoke for many more across the country when they declared Guaidó not welcome in Canada and demanded that Venezuela’s sovereignty be respected. Now it is up to those who organized and took part in the whole shameful public relations exercise in Ottawa, and those parties in Parliament and MPs that did not raise a peep against it, to account for their dishonourable behaviour. It obviously is what emboldened the false “Venezuelan ambassador to Canada” to declare untruthfully that Juan Guaidó enjoyed not only the support of the Canadian government and all of Parliament, but of the Canadian people!
(Misión Verdad, CBC, Global News, Globe and Mail. Photos: TML)
Latin America and the Caribbean
In 2020 Step Up Anti-Imperialist Solidarity with the Peoples of Our America!
By MARGARET VILLAMIZAR
The year that just ended was marked by important advances as well as setbacks on different fronts for the people’s forces in Latin America. The coming year promises to be one in which countries and peoples resisting U.S. imperialism’s increasingly brutal attempt to assert its hegemony over the entire region will continue to face serious challenges. But it also holds promise in the sense that the people’s forces are courageously doing battle with the forces of retrogression led by the U.S., in some cases under very dangerous and difficult conditions. They are building their unity and organization in the course of asserting their rights and putting forward their demands for a society that guarantees the rights of all and a future for all free from the disastrous economic and social ills bred by the neo-liberal remedies the international financial oligarchy has imposed on their countries.
Deserving of special mention is the fact that the peoples of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, united around their governments, have been able to defend and strengthen their revolutions in the face of every kind of infamy directed against them by the U.S. in its quest to foment counterrevolution, overthrow their elected governments and put an end to their sovereignty and independence. The inability of the U.S. imperialists to bring the people and governments of these three countries to heel after years of subversive activity means they will step up attempts to accomplish their criminal aim, no matter how unlikely the prospects of success.
Pompeo’s Sabre-Rattling Tour
During the week of January 19-25, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited three countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. The first was Colombia, whose government led by the neo-liberal and peace-destroying president Ivan Duque, has been the closest collaborator of the U.S. in its attempts to destabilize neighbouring Venezuela and overthrow the government of President Nicolás Maduro. It was therefore not surprising that Juan Guaidó, the fake “president” of Venezuela, was smuggled into the country to appear alongside Pompeo at a meeting of foreign ministers from the hemisphere and later meet there with a gang of Miami-based counterrevolutionaries who, according to reports, expressly requested that he ask Pompeo for a U.S. military intervention in Venezuela.
Pompeo also arranged for Guaidó to go on a European tour immediately afterwards so he could spew out his lies and plead for more punishing sanctions against his country to anyone who would listen there. In this he was given a hand up by Canada, whose mission to the EU Parliament in Brussels hosted a meeting on January 22 for him to meet with members of the Lima Group, its EU-led counterpart, the International Contact Group, the G7 and ambassadors of EU member states. In keeping with its racist, colonial tradition, the Canadian government reported it as a meeting of “the international community.”
Guaidó was also allowed to make his pitch to the filthy rich gathered at Davos for what is called a “world” economic forum. Everything makes clear that the imposter’s only real support is outside the country, not inside it.
That fact was further driven home by his failure to muster enough votes from opposition factions that previously supported him to be re-elected president of the National Assembly. He then resorted to organizing his own counterfeit “election” in front of the media on the premises of an opposition newspaper so he could once again proclaim himself the elected president of the legislature and therefore also of the country. This is the basis on which his foreign handlers, the Trudeau government among them, keep promoting the farcical notion that he is still Venezuela’s “legitimate president.”
From “Humanitarian” to “Anti-Terrorism” Card
Officially, Pompeo went to Bogotá to attend the Third Western Hemisphere Counterterrorism Ministerial on January 20, for which he had a specific agenda as well, using it as a platform to push the notion that Venezuela harbours terrorist groups and supporters of terrorist groups. He made special mention of the Lebanese organization Hezbollah, which he called “the Iranian regime’s top terrorist proxy.” Pompeo’s message to governments that had not yet done so was to get on with designating Hezbollah as a terrorist group and start taking action against suspected individuals.
He then said to the 20 or so foreign ministers in attendance that the U.S. had done its part to “take down the threat of Iran’s proxies” and “eliminated Qasem Soleimani.” A few sentences later he said that “neutralizing terrorists is one of President Trump’s top national security priorities.” He followed this with an offer to partner with their countries “in every way possible,” calling it burden-sharing. Pompeo was not explicit about what kind of actions the partnership on offer might apply to, but given the pains he took to link Venezuela and “Maduro” with Iran and Hezbollah, one can only wonder what this former CIA director, who brags about the lawless “neutralizing” of opponents, had in mind. It appears that for the U.S., playing the “humanitarian crisis/intervention” card and “responsibility to protect” may have run their course, having gone nowhere. So now the stage is being set to switch from that pretense to another one: terrorism in the name of fighting terrorism.
Pompeo’s verbal sabre rattling at the badly named counterterrorism ministerial was followed three days later by the arrival in Colombia of paratroopers from the 82nd U.S. Airborne Division from Fort Bragg, N.C and other members of U.S. Army South to participate with the Colombian military in what is described as an airborne anti-terrorism exercise. A second exercise will begin January 29 involving fighter jets and helicopters.
Pompeo’s second stop was in Costa Rica on January 21, which borders Nicaragua, another U.S. target for destabilization and regime change. In public remarks there he again singled out Venezuela for attack but honed in on Nicaragua’s Sandinista government, issuing warnings to it. While there he met openly with Nicaraguan anti-government opposition groups his government no doubt funds. They, like Guaidó, called for more sanctions against their homeland.
Attempt to Divide CARICOM
Pompeo’s third stop was Jamaica, for more dirty work – in this case attempting to divide Caribbean countries and split their organization CARICOM, only some of whose members were invited to meet with Pompeo. The 15-member organization has served as an effective block to attempts by the U.S. and its allies to use the discredited Organization of American States (OAS) as a political weapon against Venezuela by denying them the number of votes needed to take action against Venezuela in the name of the OAS. This led the U.S. and Canada to set up the illegitimate Lima Group outside the OAS for the purpose of advancing their illegal regime change project.
CARICOM Chair Mia Mottley, the Prime Minister of Barbados, said the meeting organized by Pompeo in Jamaica was an attempt to divide the region and for that reason Barbados would not be attending. “As chairman of CARICOM,” she said, “it is impossible for me to agree that my foreign minister should attend a meeting with anyone to which members of CARICOM are not invited.” Prime Minister Keith Rowley of Trinidad and Tobago followed her lead, saying as head of CARICOM Mottley also spoke for him. Grenada declined to attend as well, leaving only six countries for Pompeo to lecture about strengthening ties with the U.S. and its fraudulent project for a “free hemisphere.”
Pompeo’s public speech in Kingston again targeted Venezuela, this time adding Cuba, Russia and China to the list. He accused Russia and Cuba of continuing “to meddle in the sovereign affairs of nations, trying to destabilize democracies,” and “easy money” from China of feeding corruption, undermining countries’ rule of law, ruining their environment and not creating jobs for their people.
Part of Pompeo’s time in Jamaica was spent meeting separately with Prime Minister Holness and senior members of his cabinet, where he again viciously attacked the government of Nicolás Maduro, later declaring publicly that Holness agreed with him on that. It is not known how that was received by Holness. He urged Holness to exercise “leadership” in CARICOM and to encourage the rest of its members to re-elect the U.S. henchman Luis Almagro as OAS Secretary-General in March, and by implication, facilitate the OAS acting officially against Venezuela.
There can be no doubt that the U.S. is stepping up its offensive in Latin America and the Caribbean on different fronts – against the government and peoples of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua in particular, to discourage others from following their “bad examples” – and against the people fighting for their rights in many other countries as well. The machinery is already in action to prevent the Bolivian people from freely and democratically electing their choice of president later this year, while the U.S. hails the “democratic” coup government of Jeanine Añez as it metes out state terror and lawfare against leaders and supporters of the former governing MAS party and criminalizes dissent.
The U.S. modus operandi for carrying out its offensive against popular and democratic forces and governments in Latin America and the Caribbean involves defamation, slander, creating division and issuing warnings and threats – both in words and in deeds. The panorama unfolding for the year ahead indicates that 2020 will require vigilance and stepping up anti-imperialist solidarity based on building the unity of all the peoples of Our America for peace, freedom, democracy and rights.
(Granma, El Tiempo, Loop News, The Guardian, The Gleaner. Photos: TML, Ottawa-Cuba Connections, Winnipeg Ukrainian Labour Temple.)
U.S. Interferes (Again) to Save Guaidó
On January 5, the election of new leadership for the National Assembly, the country’s parliamentary body, took place in Venezuela. In that session, deputy Luis Parra was elected, who was once part of the opposition party Primera Justicia.
As is known, the events of January 5 were marked by controversy given the decision of the deputy and outgoing president of parliament, Juan Guaidó, not to come to the session and his subsequent attempt to enter the chamber by jumping a fence — an image that went viral and became the cover story for an alleged boycott against his re-election [and his supposed barred entry — TML Ed. note].
That day ended with Juan Guaidó swearing himself in without a parliamentary quorum in front of a group of his followers at the headquarters of the newspaper El Nacional. The event was just a media stunt that then turned into a political act. For the U.S. government as well as for other countries in the region, especially those that make up the Lima Group, the media “truth” prevailed.
Several countries that went along with the same narrative as the U.S. government dismissed the election of Parra and blamed him for allegedly impeding the election of Guaidó.
However, another act, even more unusual, took place on January 7. At the end of an ordinary session of parliament, chaired by Luis Parra, Juan Guaidó violently broke into the chamber accompanied by his supporting deputies.
He then appeared before the podium, his lackeys flanking him and swore himself in, again, as president of the National Assembly and, consequently, the “president in charge” of Venezuela, that is to say, in front of no more than a few dozen deputies that followed him in, and a lot of media. The whole thing was clearly staged as a set-up in which the parliamentarians faked a session in which Guaidó was once again declared president.
As it seems to have been planned, this was another media event. For a number of media and political actors, Guaidó took office in the legislature, that is, he presented himself triumphantly as rescuing the “legality” and “legitimacy” of the powers with which he is “vested.”
Although for the internal politics of Venezuela, Guaidó does not exercise any real power and his position is today totally void in the Venezuelan institutional sphere, for the press and the U.S. government and its allies, Juan Guaidó is the man responsible for the two most important public powers of the Venezuelan State, even though such a thing is fully outside the Venezuelan Constitution.
Collusion of Two Parliaments a Rupture of Venezuela’s Institutional Arrangements
The news channel TeleSUR reported that Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza addressed the media to disseminate the contents of a “diplomatic note” sent by the U.S. government to several countries. The document was called “The U.S. Government requests support for a statement on fair elections in the Venezuelan National Assembly.”
For the Minister, this document confirms the U.S. government’s intention to interfere in the election of the parliamentary leadership, the only explanation for the unusual and unprecedented actions taken by deputy Guaidó throughout these events.
According to U.S. government spokesmen, the “president” is still Guaidó. And indeed, Deputy Luis Parra is expected to be added to the list of Venezuelan officials sanctioned by the United States and the European Union, as clear retaliation. It is now evident that the U.S. government insists on Guaidó’s continuity in the political arena despite his rejection by the majority of deputies, now made up of dissident members of the opposition and Chavistas.
The seriousness of these events lies in the deepening of the Venezuelan institutional crisis and the U.S. seems to be perfectly clear about this. That seems to be the intention, along with sustaining the artificial “presidency” of Guaidó, as a multipurpose pressure and delegitimization tactic of both President Nicolás Maduro, and now also the new president of the legislature.
Another of the derivations of the parallel “National Assembly” that Guaidó governs is that it blocks any possibility of a political detente in Venezuela between Chavismo and the opposition, which could have repercussions for the Chavista leadership and opposition forces, which, although they have distanced themselves from Guaidó, continue to maintain an openly anti-Chavista position.
With these actors, there is the possibility that the Venezuelan legislature will recognize the other public powers and that, consequently, Venezuela will overcome the political stagnation it has suffered since the National Assembly decided to place itself in contempt of the other branches of the state in 2016.
Another possibility lies in the renewal of the Electoral Authority of Venezuela through the appointment of new leaders, something that has not been possible because of the on and off negotiations between Chavismo and the opposition, as well as the no-dialogue position assumed in 2019 by the radical wing under the command of Guaidó, on U.S. instructions.
The outcome of this series of events may be the stagnation of the political and institutional exercise in Venezuela, particularly in 2020, a parliamentary election year. Without a political agreement, without a new National Electoral Council and without an elementary detente, this year’s parliamentary elections would be at risk. Whether they are boycotted by a number of opposition parties or even if they are carried out with the participation of broad national sectors of Chavismo and the opposition, they could end in non-recognition by the U.S. government and its satellites.
Such an outcome would mean, then, that Venezuela would continue to be subject to U.S. pressure, which implies an economic and diplomatic blockade and political interference accompanied with threats of military intervention and the promotion of internal sedition.
The U.S. does not want a political solution between Venezuelans and has as its central objective the dismantling of the Chavista forces in government. The existence of two leaderships in the National Assembly, one recognized within Venezuela and the other recognized by the United States and its allies, represents a clearly useful institutional dissonance to consolidate a rupture in Venezuela, a fundamental link for the consolidation of a coup d’état.
On the other hand, the clearly disturbing presence of Guaidó, artificially sustained in the political arena, is clearly essential for the flow of resources for the benefit of specific sectors of the opposition.
At the end of 2019, Namita Biggins, spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department, said that during 2019 “the U.S. government has given more than $650 million towards humanitarian assistance, not only inside Venezuela but also to support 16 neighbouring countries.” She said they would like to continue deepening support for Guaidó during this year, which implies more resources.
It should also be noted that supporting Guaidó means continuing the U.S. strategy against Venezuela. Getting another deputy recognized as “president in charge” would be very cumbersome for the Trump Administration’s diplomacy and, in effect, would mean declaring the “Guaidó strategy” that was expected to meet the objective of getting Maduro out in just months, in early 2019, a failure.
In his recent presentation to the press, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, referring to the U.S. diplomatic document, indicated that it expressed the U.S. interest in forming a “transition government” in Venezuela. At the same time they ratified their intention to maintain the unilateral coercive measures against the country to force the exit of the legitimate president Nicolás Maduro.
Everything seems to indicate that, in the framework of an election year for Donald Trump, his bet on Venezuela will be to sustain the “Guaidó strategy” despite its catastrophic results in 2019. But in addition to that, everything seems to point to an increase in economic pressures and policies against Venezuela, to assert the U.S. “position of strength” and to present Trump’s foreign agenda as a “successful model” of institutional relations for the region.
In the plot of their coup agenda against the Venezuelan state, the U.S. is not concerned about forms, and their agenda is clearly that of the “big stick.”
(January 10, 2020. Translated from original Spanish by TML. Photos: MinMujer, Misión Verdad)
61st Anniversary of Cuban Revolution
Cuba Marches On! Cuba Resists! Cuba Wins!
Sixty-one years! It is sixty-one years since the triumph of the Cuban Revolution. Sixty-one years in which Cuba definitively and defiantly embarked on a path that established authentic self-determination, placing the Cuban nation firmly in the hands of its people.
It is profoundly poignant that the Cuban Revolution has not only outlasted 11 U.S. presidential administrations but has also existed longer than the U.S. neo-colony that was imposed on the people of Cuba in 1898 when Washington militarily intervened in that heroic island nation just as Cuba’s liberation fighters were on the verge of throwing-off once-and-for all the yoke of Spanish colonialism.
The Cuban Revolution is a culmination of the struggles for national independence and social justice, first launched on October 10, 1868 by Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, carried forward and deepened by José Martí in 1895, and revived periodically throughout the first half of the 20th century when Cuba languished under U.S. hegemony. It is, therefore, the crystallization and consummation of the historical aspirations of the Cuban people, manifested time and time again in their re-affirmation and determination to defend, strengthen and perfect the revolutionary project.
However, the empire has never accepted the verdict of the Cuban people; it has waged an economic war and a campaign of destabilization aimed at restoring U.S. imperialism’s domination and tutelage.
In the face of unceasing and escalating U.S. hostility, the Cuban Revolution has made an invaluable contribution to the global struggle for justice, social development and human dignity.
Cuba holds an admirable place in the international community regarding the protection and promotion of the rights of its citizens. Cuba is not a haven for the economic violence that reigns in so many countries.
In Cuba everyone is guaranteed an education and access to universal and free health care.
In Cuba no one is “disappeared” or the victim of extra-judicial execution.
In Cuba there are no homeless roaming the streets, no one left to fend for themselves, eking out an existence in a dog-eat-dog society.
Besieged by imperialism, the heroic island nation has made invaluable contributions to the well-being of the world’s nations and peoples, having established an unparalleled legacy of internationalism and humanitarianism.
More than 400,000 Cuban medical personnel have served in 164 countries fighting disease.
More than 2,000 Cubans gave their lives in the struggles to liberate Africa from the scourge of colonialism and apartheid.
What Cuba has done nationally and internationally is no small feat. Its impressive achievements have occurred in the midst of an all-sided brutal aggression by Washington. The U.S. economic blockade — the principal obstacle to Cuba’s social and economic development — has cost the island nation in excess of $1 trillion U.S. dollars, constituting a flagrant violation of the human rights of the people of Cuba.
Washington’s objective is the negation and extinguishing of Cuba’s right to self-determination and independence.
Since the triumph of the Cuban Revolution on January 1, 1959, the Cuban people have resisted all attempts to take away their independence and freedom, and re-impose foreign domination. They have repelled the unceasing economic, financial and propagandistic assault by Washington, including the April 1961 mercenary invasion.
Cubans have never wavered in their revolutionary resolve and commitment. As Cuban President Miguel Mario Díaz-Canel Bermúdez declared in his December 21, 2019 address to Cuba’s National Assembly: “United we have won! United we will win!”
Long Live the Cuban Revolution!
¡Viva la Revolución Cubana!
(Photos: VCSC, Granma)
Solemn Commemoration Activities in Montreal Mark 10th Anniversary of the Haitian Earthquake: Ayiti la!
The tenth anniversary of the earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, 2010 was commemorated in Montreal on January 11-12 at TOHU, Montreal’s Cité des arts du Cirque, located in the heart of the Saint-Michel district. The two-day events were organized by la Maison d’Haïti in close collaboration with TOHU and the participation of over 40 groups, organizations and artists. Activities included conferences, artistic and artisanal exhibits, information kiosks, dance performances, a film screening and a solemn closing event. Hundreds of people of all ages took part throughout the weekend in exchanges, learning and paying tribute.
The many activities were instructive in illustrating how the Haitian people organize to surmount their difficulties. Amongst others, the film “Haiti Betrayed” provided a wealth of information on the situation within the country and the foreign interference there, which poses a block to the Haitian people’s defence of their sovereignty. The one-hour-and-twenty-minute documentary, produced by Elaine Brière, a documentary photographer and filmmaker from British Columbia, deals in particular with the Canadian government’s role in Haiti. The ongoing resistance and struggle of the Haitian people for their dignity against foreign occupiers, both past and present, is very well illustrated. Interference, intrigues, the sending of troops to take control of the country, as well as the coup d’état carried out by Canada, the U.S. and France, with the collaboration of successive governments in Haiti, are presented. Efforts by foreign powers, including Canada, to prevent the Haitian people from affirming their sovereignty clearly emerge through the presentation of facts, interviews and a review of the history of the Haitian people.
A workshop was organized on January 12 by Solidarité Québec-Haïti to delve into the crisis afflicting Haiti in the earthquake’s aftermath. A very animated exchange took place during a video-conference between two activists in Haiti and another in Canada. The corruption of the big foreign powers and how they act with impunity are key features of the years following the earthquake. The Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC), 13 international members and 13 Haitian members, under the co-chairmanship of former Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive and former U.S. President Bill Clinton, was established in 2010 following the quake. The commission’s mandate was to manage the funds collected to assist the Haitian people in the reconstruction of their country. The commission squandered close to $13 billion in funds with full impunity. The Petro-Caribe fund of $3.8 billion, an energy cooperation agreement initiated by Venezuela for the development of social programs, has also been pilfered. It was the youth who began asking where those funds had gone. Since then, the Haitian people have taken to the street to demand justice, condemn the corruption and theft by the big powers and demand that they leave the country
The weekend closed with a solemn commemoration attended by over 300 people, including survivors of the quake, a large number of participants from the Haitian diaspora, as well as dignitaries from the Haitian Consulate and representatives of the federal, provincial and municipal governments. Dance and music were performed live on stage, followed by closing remarks from Marjorie Villefranche, General Director of la Maison d’Haïti, who said in part:
“No one has forgotten. That’s why we’re here tonight, that’s why we commemorate, to honour all those who perished — children, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, parents, friends and the unnamed buried without ceremony, without a grave. With us this evening are the survivors, the bereaved, united by the same courage, the same will to acknowledge and to pay homage. Five years ago in this very place, I told you that we were living through times of crisis, that indifference would become a formidable foe. I had no idea then of the scope that climate change would take, nor of the rise of agent orange [in reference to highly toxic hybrid seeds donated by Monsanto — TMLW Editor’s Note], populists of all kinds. […] Your presence here tonight and that of our elected members, of our unwavering friends reassures me, reassures us. What it signifies is that we are not giving up. Haiti is not alone in confronting the violence of social inequality and injustice. The indecency of those who possess over half of all the planet’s wealth is sickening. However, we also know that many peoples are resisting, even as we speak. And what if the next goudou [earthquake rumbling] were to come from us, from the strength of the peoples? The solidarity of our friends is precious and indispensable. We live on a planet that demands that we relate to one another to be able to live, have water, air and food. We must remain connected and supportive of each other. Thanks go to all our activists, organizations, for their active, supportive presence […]”
The weekend’s events brought to light the fact that despite the huge difficulties, the corruption within the ruling class and foreign intervention, the Haitian people continue to defend their sovereignty and their right to be. On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti, they are laying their claims for their dignity, justice and repairs. Ayiti la! We are one with the Haitian people!
(Photos: la Maison d’Haïti, Solidarité Québec-Haïti)
TML Weekly Information Project, January 25, 2020, No. 1