Rob Green Replies to Beaudet

Rob Green Replies to Beaudet

Hi Pierre,

Thank you for responding to my letter. It is heartening to know that a director of Alternatives would take the time to do this. I say this with the utmost sincerity.

That said I am still very concerned about the current position on Haiti being articulated by yourself and others within the organization. I therefore feel compelled to respond to some of what you have written...


J'ai pris note de votre lettre. Alternatives comme vous le savez n'est pas un parti politique ou un organisme qui fonctionne de manière centralisée et nous préférons vivre avec une pluralité d'opinions. Donc la vôtre fait partie de ce débat.

While I’m happy to hear you say this, part of my critique of the event at the Journées des études is that it was lacking such a plurality of opinions. My impression of the panel was that it was a fairly unified chorus of anti-Aristide opinion. As you mention in your recent article on ZNet there is a great deal of debate about Aristide and Lavalas on the left in both North America and in Haiti. Would it not make sense then to have the various perspectives of this debate present on the panel? Is this not the very point of panel discussions?

Vous avez raison de dire qu'Artistide a été sous la pression de la communauté internationale pour des options économiques plutôt douteuses, mais cela n'évacue sans doute pas ses propres responsabilités.

Certainly not, and I never suggested that Aristide bore none of the responsibility. My point was that the panel’s characterization of Aristide as a neoliberal ideologue lacked a certain sense of balance and nuance. To provide the context in which his neoliberal policies were enacted is not to excuse his role. However to omit this context as the panel did, leads to some rather dubious assumptions. For an idea of what I mean by a more balanced view of Aristide’s neoliberalism see Peter Hallward’s New Left Review article “Option Zero in Haiti”.

Quant à la répression contre les partisans d'Aristide sous la forme d'emprisonnements sans procès et d'exactions, je suis contre et je l'ai dit. C'est aussi dans l'article de François L'Écuyer.

I don’t doubt that both you and Francois are against this. What I don’t understand though is the emphasis both you and Francois put on Aristide and Lavalas as the source of the violence in Haiti. For example your recent article describes the interm government as merely “ineffective”, while Aristide is described as wreaking “havoc” with a “hard-nosed gang of thugs”. The choice of these words (not to mention those used by L’Ecuyer) paints a picture that might lead one to believe that Aristide, from exile, is the principle source of violence in Haiti - particularly when the article fails to mention at all the violence of the Canadian trained, black-masked Haitian police, or the UN’s so-called “peacekeepers”.

Last night I saw a screening of Kevin Pina’s new documentary “Haiti: the untold story”. I strongly recommend that you get your hands on a copy of this and watch it, so you can witness yourself the gruesome images of the violent campaign of intimidation against Lavalas supporters.

My point here is that even if the reports about Lavalas incited violence are all true (and this is certainly questionable, see Kevin Skerret’s “Faking Genocide in Haiti”), by failing to also specifically mention the massacres at Cité Soleil, for example, and clearly condemn both the UN and Canada’s role in it you lose credibility and make people like myself wonder if CIDA money is affecting your judgment. Showing solidarity with the people of Haiti does not mean deciding what’s best for them, it means respecting their right to determine their own destiny. This cannot happen as long as supporters of one of the country’s political parties are being systematically and violently intimidated. Our obligation to speak out, and to do so loudly, is enormous given that our own government is complicit in this campaign of violent repression. Thus far I haven’t seen this from Alternatives and I can’t help but wonder why?

Enfin en ce qui concerne l'ACDI, je peux vous assurer qu'il n'y a pas de rapport entre le fait de gérer des projets co-financés par l'ACDI et des prises de positions prises par des membres d'Alternatives. Dans plusieurs cas, nous avons critiqué la position du gouvernement canadien, y compris dans le cas haitien. Lors du debat public organise par Alternatives le mois passe et auquel vous avez assiste semble-t-il, vous vous souviendrez de ce que j'ai dit a ce sujet. Le financement de projets n'est pas en cause ni dans cette question ni ailleurs. Par exemple, la coalition des ONG canadiennes, le CCCI, (dont nous sommes membres) a critiqué à plusieurs reprises le fait que le gouvernement canadien ne consacre pas assez d'argent au développement international. Ce droit de parole des ONG est respecté par l'ACDI car cela fait partie des règles du jeu.

You can’t compare criticizing the Canadian government for not funding NGO’s with criticizing it for training masked squads of so-called police to terrorize the poorest neighbourhoods in one of the poorest countries in the world. This is simply not the same thing. I think you know this as well as I do, which is exactly why I’m so concerned about the influence CIDA money may be having on Alternatives’ position. However, I’d like to believe this is not the case. I invite you to prove me wrong. I plead with you to use your influence at Alternatives to have the organization issue a public statement on its website which clearly and categorically condemns Canada and the UN for their role in the persecution of Lavalas supporters.

In Solidarity,

Rob Green