Below is a report about today’s Haiti meeting in Montreal where governments will come together to remix the dough and cut the pie into self-serving pieces. Keep your eye on Canada — the perpetual proxy of the US and France in all things dealing with Haiti.
Further below, is an open letter to governments attending the Montreal meeting, circulated by JUBILEE and a gazillion other groups, that tells them not to repeat the same policies of the past and insists upon an immediate and complete cancellation of Haiti’s debt.
Click on the article title below to see a video of Haiti Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive arriving in Haiti and Canadian relief and search and rescue workers returning home to Canada.
Finally, stay tuned.
January 24, 2010
Date: Sun. Jan. 24 2010 10:14 PM ET
Foreign ministers from around the world, including U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, will meet in Montreal Monday to lay the groundwork for a long-term plan to rebuild Haiti.
Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon will serve as host of the six-hour meeting, officially known as the Ministerial Preparatory Conference of the Group of Friends of Haiti.
Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive arrived in Ottawa on Sunday and was given a warm reception from Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Parliament Hill.
Later, Bellerive was greeted at Rideau Hall by Gov. Gen Michaelle Jean.
“First, we need to explain that, even with all our problems, we still want to have the leadership when deciding the vision of what should be done in Haiti’s future,” Bellerive told The Canadian Press.
The mini-summit was organized this past week and will occur less than two weeks after the 7.0-magnitude quake struck the impoverished Caribbean nation.
The Haitian government estimates that more than 100,000 people have been killed, while hundreds of thousands more have been left homeless and in dire need of food, water and medical attention.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner will also take part.
Cannon told reporters in Ottawa Sunday that the meeting “is an initial, albeit critical, step on the long road to recovery.”
“Obviously the government of Haiti will have a very large say in this … I think it’s going to be extremely important to get the input from President Preval’s team as well as the Prime Minister, Bellerive.”
“Together with the government of Haiti we need to roll up our sleeves and begin to lay the groundwork for the enormous task ahead.”
Representatives from the Group of Friends of Haiti, the Dominican Republic, the European Union, Spain and Japan will also take part in the meeting.
They will be joined by the Organization of American States, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the UN, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, among other organizations.
Several non-governmental organizations will also be in attendance.
Cannon said the meeting has two objectives: to establish a commitment from the attending nations and organizations on “responsibility, accountability and long-term engagement,” and to identify key priorities for aid in the weeks and months ahead.
He said Monday’s meeting will also lay the foundation for an international conference on Haitian reconstruction.
“I look forward to a successful outcome of the Montreal meeting,” Cannon said. “I trust it will provide a clear sense of the next steps ahead, restoring the lives and livelihoods of the Haitian people and, as Prime Minister Bellerive put it, building a new Haiti will be foremost on our minds.”
Despite global involvement, keeping Haitian leadership at the forefront of the rebuilding process is paramount, said Fen Hampson, an international affairs expert at Carleton University.
“In the current crisis, we should be going out of our way to respect and work with its leaders,” he said.
“The Haitian people also need to know that their own government is getting its own handle on the crisis and moving forward. The country’s political stability will ultimately rest on Haiti’s government’s ability to deal with this crisis — not simply on what we and other donors do.”
To the governments and organizations gathered in Montreal on the situation in Haiti The recent tragedy in Haiti shocked the people of the world for its destructive impact, the environmental and social consequences, and especially for the loss of human lives. Unfortunately, natural disasters are not new in that Caribbean country, which was impacted in 2008 by hurricanes Hanna and Ike. Nor is it the first time we have watched the international community make pledges of cooperation and assistance to Haiti. We are concerned, as organizations and social movements and on the basis of permanent contact and consultation with our partners there, that the international response be coordinated on the basis of respect for their sovereignty and in full accordance with the needs and demands of the Haitian people. Now is the moment for the governments that form part of the United Nations Mission for the Stabilization of Haiti (MINUSTAH), the United Nations, and especially the U.S., Canada, and France, to reasses the many mistaken policies they have implemented in Haiti. The country’s condition of vulnerability to natural disasters – in large part caused by the devastation of the environment, the lack of basic infrastructure and the weak capacity of state social action – is not unrelated to these policies, which have historically undermined the sovereignty of the people and their country, thus generating a historical, social, economic, environmental, and cultural debt in which these same countries and institutions have a major share of responsibility. Reparations must be made to the Haitian people for these debts, and all the more so in the face of the present situation affecting the country. In this regard, we reject the militarization of the country as a false response to the recent disaster, including in particular U.S. unilateral action to send an additional 20,000 troops to safeguard its economic and geopolitical interests. The occupation troops of the MINUSTAH, over the past six years, did not contribute effectively to the stabilization or the provision of infrastructure and public goods, and nothing indicates that maintaining this policy would be effective from now on. We call on governments and international organizations to immediately and unconditionally cancel the external debt claimed of Haiti, the servicing of which affects millions of lives. We also demand that the resources allocated for relief and reconstruction do not create new debt, or conditionalities that are imposed or any other form of external imposition which vitiates this goal, as is the practice of international financial institutions like the World Bank, the Interamerican Development Bank, the IMF, and the so-called donor countries. We also reject the intervention of private multinational companies who seek to take advantage of this tragedy to reap multibillion dollar profits in the reconstruction of Haiti, as happened in Iraq, or to exploit cheap labor and continue to plunder the country’s natural resources. Haitian society, its organizations, social movements and state representatives should be the protagonists of the international effort to rebuild their country: the first to be heard and the final and sovereign decision over their destiny. The Haitian people have lifted themselves up many times on the basis of their own will, with the strength and conviction of their historical example of having been the first people to free themselves in America. Any cooperation can be effective only if it is based in this commitment and full popular participation. We are alert, and following developments in dialogue with Haitian organizations, in order to ensure that international cooperation takes place on the basis of this kind of solidarity and that the errors of past policies are not repeated. For a free and sovereign Haiti! – January 25, 2010