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Haitian leaders must all agree before Canada would lead a potential military intervention, Trudeau says

U.S. has suggested Canada could lead a multinational force in Haiti

Dylan Robertson · The Canadian Press · Posted: Nov 20, 2022 1:27 PM ET

A potential Canadian military intervention in Haiti can't happen unless all political parties in the troubled nation agree to it, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Sunday.

Speaking from Tunisia on the final day of the two-day Francophonie summit, Trudeau announced $16.5 million to help stabilize Haiti, where gangs are strangling access to fuel and critical supplies amid a worsening cholera outbreak.

About half the money is going toward humanitarian aid, and some of the rest is intended to help weed out corruption and prosecute gender-based violence.

But Haiti's government has asked for an international military intervention to combat gangs who have strangled access to fuel and critical supplies in the middle of the outbreak.

The United States wants Canada to lead any military intervention.

Trudeau said Sunday that Canada is working with CARICOM, the organization of Caribbean governments, along with "various actors in Haiti from all different political parties" to get a consensus on how the international community can help.

"It is not enough for Haiti's government to ask for it," he said. "There needs to be a consensus across political parties in Haiti before we can move forward on more significant steps."

He did not rule out eventually establishing a Canadian military mission on the ground in Haiti.

"Canada is very open to playing an important role, but we must have a Haitian consensus," Trudeau said in French.

New sanctions on prominent former officials
A Global Affairs Canada assessment team sent to Haiti to establish some understanding of what is happening and what could help has already returned and provided a report at meetings Trudeau said he attended.

He said the response is complicated because many "political elites" and "oligarchs" in Haiti have used the country's humanitarian crises "to enrich themselves on the backs of the Haitian people."

"So that is why our approach now is not about doing what one political party or the government wants," Trudeau said. "It's calling for a level of consensus and coherence from all actors in Haiti to call for solutions that we can actually get behind and lead on as an international community."

On Saturday Canada expanded its economic sanctions freezing the Canadian assets of Haitian political elites to now include former president Michel Martelly and former prime ministers Laurent Lamothe and Jean-Henry Ceant.

Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly accused the trio of helping gangs undermine Haiti's current government and called on international partners to follow Canada's lead.

"Our goal is to make sure that these people that are profiting from the violence, that are part of a corrupted system, are facing accountability," she said.

Haitian Foreign Affairs Minister Jean Victor Geneus said the new sanctions put real consequences on those causing a "nightmare" in his country.

"These sanctions will have a dissuasive impact," he said in French, while seated between Trudeau and Joly.

Geneus said gangs are raping women and girls, preventing children from attending school and not letting sick people through roadblocks when they seek medical treatment. That means refugees are leaving for neighbouring islands.

"If the necessary conditions for safety are not re-established in a fast and urgent manner, a humanitarian catastrophe is possible in Haiti," he said in French.

Interesting development; apparently Canada has sanctioned the richest man in Haiti for supporting various gangs that are running wild in the country.

From the New Republic:

James North/December 16, 2022

The Billionaire Oligarch Who’s Enabling Haiti’s Murderous Gangs​

Businessman Gilbert Bigio is facing penalties for his alleged involvement with the violence that’s engulfed the country during Prime Minister Ariel Henry’s corrupt reign.

In a stunning new development amid the smoldering crisis in Haiti, Canada has imposed stiff economic sanctions on Gilbert Bigio, who is often described as the richest man in Haiti. The Canadian foreign ministry accused Bigio, along with two other superwealthy Haitians, of using their economic power “to protect and enable the illegal activities of the armed criminal gangs” that are tearing the country apart. For years, Haitians have said Bigio and other oligarchs are complicit in the violence strangling the nation: This year 1,448 people have been killed, with another 1,005 kidnapped for ransom. Until now, however, the international community has stayed mostly silent about Haiti’s corrupt elite.

Canada’s bold move should end the mistaken view in the outside world that the gang violence, which has brought 60 percent of the capital, Port-au-Prince, to a virtual standstill, is nothing but savagery contained in poor neighborhoods. As one local online publication—the respected AyiboPost—explained, the Bigio family’s broad economic holdings include its own recently constructed private port of Lafito, just north of the capital. AyiboPost speculates that Canada may have information indicating that the gangs have been able to use the port to import some of the heavy weapons that are outgunning the beleaguered Haitian police.

The Bigio family is part of what is often called the “Syro-Lebanese elite”—the descendants of people who immigrated in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries from various parts of the Middle East. There are estimates that Gilbert Bigio, the 86-year-old patriarch, is worth $1 billion, although no one knows for sure. It is a matter of public record that in 2020 he bought a Mercedes Maybach luxury auto for $132,000, quite a statement in a nation where an estimated 4.7 million people—nearly half the population—are experiencing “acute food insecurity.”

That many outside of Haiti are ignorant about these influential oligarchs is actually something of a surprise. Back in the early 1990s, after most of the wealthy supported the overthrow of the democratically elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, foreign diplomats, including a U.S. ambassador, called them “morally repugnant elites,” or MREs for short. The appellation was inspired by the emergency rations known as “meals ready-to-eat.”

Daniel Foote, the former U.S envoy to Haiti who resigned in September 2021 to protest against the disastrous American policy, told me that he thinks Canada and the U.S. State Department are working together to economically punish Bigio and the others. But he suspects that the United States cannot follow Canada’s example by imposing stiff sanctions, possibly because Bigio may be a U.S. citizen and thus entitled to due process. In theory, however, U.S. prosecutors could bring cases against Bigio and other oligarchs for funding the vicious gangs whether these defendants have U.S. citizenship or not. As things stand, inaction is much more likely.

Why do some members of Haiti’s elite pay and even arm the gangs? There are several explanations. In conversations with well-placed Haitians who understandably asked for anonymity, several theories emerged. All agreed that the gangs today are largely paramilitary allies of the PHTK, the political party that has dominated Haiti for the past decade with a combination of election fraud and violence. These oligarchs have a vested interest in maintaining this alliance. A large-shop owner explained that Haiti’s elite profits from monopolizing certain strategic imports—the Bigios control steel—and so they cooperate with the ruling party to maintain that economic power.

All my anonymous informants agreed that Haiti’s rich evade their taxes, especially import duties. What’s more, Canada directly accused Gilbert Bigio and the two others of “money-laundering and other acts of corruption.” And one former government official told me that way back in the 1950s, the Bigios had imported Uzi submachine guns from Israel for the François “Papa Doc“ Duvalier dictatorship; the weapons trade may thus have already been a component of the family business model.

Ex-envoy Foote is somewhat skeptical about the Canadian-U.S. economic pressure. “I think they are acting for optics so it looks like they are actually doing something,” he said. “But what they should be doing right now is ending their support for Ariel Henry, the unelected, de facto prime minister, who is the biggest immediate obstacle to a solution.” Foote, like very many Haitians, endorses (with some reservations) the Commission for a Haitian Solution to the Crisis, also known as the Montana Accord, the broad-based coalition that is calling for Henry to step down and give way to a provisional government that can restore order and then eventually prepare for new elections in two years.

But the Biden administration, Canada, and the United Nations have not given up on Ariel Henry. Foote, who knows the major players, cannot hide his astonishment: “The U.S., by continuing to recognize Henry, is implying that there are two camps in Haiti: his and the opposition. But in fact, he has no support: Haitians want him gone, and he may even be linked to the assassination in 2021 of President Jovenel Moïse.”

Meanwhile, the Montana Accord, which joins together more than 650 Haitian organizations and individuals, including labor unions, community groups, Catholic and Protestant churches, women’s groups, and chambers of commerce—all along with an inclusive range of political leanings—continues to demand that the U.S., Canada, and the U.N. set aside Ariel Henry and instead recognize a transitional government. Monique Clesca, a prominent member of the accord, testified on December 9 before a committee of Canada’s Parliament: “Today Haiti is a nation under siege, by heavily armed men. Worse: The [Ariel Henry] government, the politicians, and the economic sectors finance and arm these gangs.”

Clesca, who is a writer and an international development expert, went to lengths to make two important, linked points. First, she said, Henry is in power illegally and has no right to speak for Haiti and ask foreign powers to send troops. She called his request “a crime of high treason.” But second, she charged that Henry has made no genuine effort to bring the gangs under control. Instead, she says, his government has “crossed its arms.” Her view, shared by many Haitians, is that the de facto prime minister and his political and elite allies prefer the present violence, so they can summon an international armed force to maintain them in power despite their decade of corruption and mismanagement. It is reasonable to surmise that Henry and his allies are running a con job that until now has suckered the U.S. State Department and gone unreported in mainstream U.S. press accounts.

Clesca does not deny that Haiti is in crisis. “We are against intervention,” she told the Canadian members of Parliament. “But we do want the Haitian police reinforced, and we do need immediate humanitarian aid.” Haiti is currently struggling with a resurgence of cholera, which U.N. troops first brought to the country after the 2010 earthquake; 283 more Haitians have already died in the latest outbreak of a disease that is actually quite treatable.

A few days after her testimony, Clesca, like the rest of the Montana Group, in a November 30 statement, continued to reject foreign military intervention.* She told me, “We are a sovereign state. Nobody is calling for intervention in Ethiopia, or El Salvador, and they have huge problems.” She continued: “It is time for us Haitians to take responsibility for our state. Nothing says we can’t have assistance. Nothing says we can’t have cooperation. But we have to sit down together across a table and define our needs. It is time for us Haitians to assume responsibility for our people.”
* This article originally misidentified the date of the statement.

James North @jamesnorth7

James North has reported from Africa, Latin America, and Asia for the past 47 years. He tweets at @jamesnorth7. He lives in New York City.
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Again Trudeau displays his childish ideas. Can't help others when we have so many problems right here in Canada and caused by Mr Illustrious.
Please elaborate on which problems were specifically caused by the PM.
Oh yes the covid shots and boosters. Canada still promotes them while many other 1st world countries have identified the serious problems with these vaccines. For better explanation view Dr John Campbell on YouTube. Get the truth, not the mistruths.
Oh yes the covid shots and boosters. Canada still promotes them while many other 1st world countries have identified the serious problems with these vaccines. For better explanation view Dr John Campbell on YouTube. Get the truth, not the mistruths.
Denmark and who???

"At a summit in Mexico City on Tuesday Joe Biden was expected to lobby Justin Trudeau for Canada to lead an international security force – in part to help stem the flow of Haitian refugees reaching the US."

Even JT isn't foolish enough to go forward with this, or I don't think so anyway, and who knows if this is even within our capabilities, it would certainly be ugly and costly. I don't think Canadian's or the CAF could stomach what it would take to fix Haiti at this point. Interesting that Biden is still pushing the issue, or maybe he's just calling out our government for having a big voice but never actually taking action.

For all we know Russia and China are trying to further destabilize the region to cause a headache close to home. Could turn into another proxy war mess depending who gets involved bringing arms in for the rebels, there's a lot of ways I could see this getting bad. Haiti should have never been left to its own control, I feel for the women and children stuck there but at the end of the day this isn't a mess I see Canadians supporting getting involved with.
Even JT isn't foolish enough to go forward with this, or I don't think so anyway, and who knows if this is even within our capabilities, it would certainly be ugly and costly.

Ugly and costly is putting it lightly. I could only imagine it being like Somalia during the Black Hawk down incident.
We’ve got nobody to send, no way to get them there and no supplies to give them.
We have the AOPs with the Hot Weather Package. :ROFLMAO:We can patrol and go anywhere now, those ships can deliver troops and supplies in limited quantities as needed. We have enough of the ships to do round trips to Miami and sustain operations........What a posting that would be forward Deployed to Mayport.
Ugly and costly is putting it lightly. I could only imagine it being like Somalia during the Black Hawk down incident.
Do we think the local population is more armed or less armed than that of Somalia?

At least HLTA can be had at a resort on the same bloody island... 😐🤦‍♂️🤷‍♂️
Do we think the local population is more armed or less armed than that of Somalia?

At least HLTA can be had at a resort on the same bloody island... 😐🤦‍♂️🤷‍♂️
Do we think the local population is more armed or less armed than that of Somalia?

At least HLTA can be had at a resort on the same bloody island... 😐🤦‍♂️🤷‍♂️

Having used the G3, like the one on the table in the photo, I wouldn't assume we'd have 'better' small arms than the criminals ;)

US officials say there has been a surge of high-powered weapons being smuggled from Florida to Haiti.

The Caribbean country has been rocked by brutal gang warfare in which hundreds of people have been killed in the past six weeks alone.
A US federal agent said that the number of weapons illegally shipped to Haiti had risen to unprecedented levels.

Haitian police have complained about being outgunned and outnumbered in their fights with gang members.

US Special Agent Anthony Salisbury, who is in charge of Homeland Security Investigations, told reporters at a news conference in Miami that "not only have we seen a marked uptick in the number of weapons, but a serious increase in the calibre and type of firearms being illegally trafficked".
He added that the Department of Homeland Security was ramping up efforts to stem the flow of illicit weapons.

According to Mr Salisbury, there is an alarming trend of high-powered weapons being smuggled from ports in South Florida to the US. "In the wrong hands, these weapons are easily capable of causing mass casualties," he warned.