A wee rant on Haiti
Today's post is going to zero in a bit on one topic that I've talked about a few times before. Haiti. The National Post ran an update piece on the situation in Haiti, which included an interesting little factoid: "At least five kidnappings are reported every day, said police director Leon Charles. Three foreigners have been among the roughly 150 people abducted and then released for ransoms ranging from a few hundred dollars to more than US$1,000. Among the three foreigners was a Canadian, who was seized last week and later freed after his family reached a deal with the kidnappers." That was the 13th paragraph, and marked the first time I've read that a Canadian was abducted in Haiti last week. Does that strike anyone else as odd? I ran a little search and found out that the Canadian Press put the story out on the wire on May 27, in time for the May 28 papers. In fairness, quite a few papers got it, such as the Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Halifax Chronicle-Herald, Calgary Herald and Victoria Times Colonist, but the big boys took a pass altogether. Anyone want to venture a guess as to why? The Post hints at the reason just below the aforementioned kidnapping paragraph. "The violence stems from the continuing confrontation with supporters of Jean Bertrand Aristide, the former president who fled into exile last year under pressure from the United States, France and Canada." They chose to omit the phrase "democratically-elected" between "former" and "president" but you get the idea. This was a coup d'etat sanctioned by our government. A detail that was kind of overlooked at the time, and I get the feeling that the media might feel a touch bad about that. You can just about imagine the reaction of an average Canadian reader. "Wait, all this killing is related to the overthrow of a government? An overthrow that we supported? Why didn't I know that before?" So why did the Post run this story today? Let's see what's a little higher up in the piece, in the lead for example: "A year after the United Nations sent 6,000 troops and 1,400 police to Haiti in an effort to stem its relentless violence, the impoverished Caribbean country still wakes up every day to new reports of the dead and dying." Oh, so the UN is failing? Let's read on. "On Friday a spokesman for [interim President Boniface] Alexandre said the UN mission to the country had failed and that UN forces were 'reluctant to support Haitian police during operations against bandits, particularly in the capital.'" So the Post passes on this story for more than a year, then reports on it when the UN gets blamed. Unbelievable. Canada has soldiers and police officers in Haiti right now, but the only time the major papers want to report on the country is when they can do so in a way that suits their agenda. Today there was some coverage of an upcoming humanitarian mission led by Quebec Premier Jean Charest, but stories like that usually refer to the violence that followed the "massive popular uprising and the departure of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide in February 2004," as the Gazette did today. Wake up, Canada. Our government helped overthrow a democratically-elected government in Haiti. The media let them off the hook for it. And now we've turned our eyes elsewhere while people continue to die. I'm fucking ashamed and you all should be too. Learn more: The Canadian government's version of events is here. The website for a U.S.-based pro-Haitian-democracy site is here (fairly partisan). An article about a documentary film that exposes the lack of media coverage is here.