'Let Haiti decide its own destiny': Canada sends armored vehicles to Haiti, but experts question involvement

A shipment of armored vehicles from Canada and the US arrived in Haiti on Saturday as violence broke out in the country, but some experts have questioned Canada's decision to intervene.

Coordinated deliveries are planned under joint operations with the Royal Canadian Air Force and the US Air Force. Canadian Global Affairs released a statement late Saturday confirming a joint shipment of armored vehicles from the Canadian and US militaries had arrived in Haiti.

"Today, Canadian and US military aircraft arrived in Port-au-Prince, Haiti to transfer critical security equipment purchased by the Haitian government, including tactical and armored vehicles, and supplies to the Director General of the Haitian National Police (HNP)," the statement said. the. statement read.

The statement, issued by Foreign Minister Melanie Joly and National Defense Minister Anita Anand, said the equipment was intended to help Haiti's National Police fight violence insinuated by "criminal actors."

There is growing concern that the country whose president was assassinated last year is experiencing an epidemic of cholera and sexual violence against women, children and men by gangs. The Haitian government has also urged countries such as Canada and the US to provide security assistance.

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The federal government said Canada would work with other international partners to assist Haitian law enforcement in training more police officers. The statement did not include whether additional police equipment such as firearms and bulletproof vests were included in the shipment. Canada's Ambassador to Haiti Sebastien Carriere also said on Twitter that they would not release vehicle numbers or models to avoid disclosing information to gangs in the country.

While Canada has pledged financial aid in recent months to Haiti, experts and activists who have followed events in the country over the past two decades say Haiti needs to be left alone.

"We keep saying what we've been saying for a long time, let Haiti decide its own destiny," former Canadian ambassador to Haiti Gilles Rivard told CTV News in an interview. Rivard, who served as ambassador between 2008 and 2010 and then again in 2014, said Canada should not interfere in Haiti's affairs until it was able to strike a deal between its people and the government to run elections and strengthen governance.

“Where do you start and where do you finish? Until there is no roadmap to get the country back on track in terms of political structure”? he says. "There is a lot to be done but the first part has to come from Haiti in my view."

Haitian-Canadian activist Jean Saint-Vil says Haitians feel the same way. "Get out. Haiti has told Canada, the United States, Europe to get out," he told CTV News in an interview. Saint-Vil said instead there needed to be reparations made to the country starting with the UN's involvement in the cholera outbreak. In 2013 the UN denied claims that their peacekeepers brought cholera into the country during recovery efforts after the 2010 earthquake. The UN did not say they started the epidemic but they acknowledged their own involvement in 2016 after reports made by UN investigators leaked.

Since 2010, a cholera outbreak has killed nearly 10,000 people on the island according to the World Health Organization. "The reason why they are propping this up now is to pretend that this is a humanitarian intervention," he said. In a tweet following a statement about the new shipments, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reiterated Canada's commitment to supporting Haiti's law enforcement.

“Both of our countries remain committed to supporting the work of the Haitian National Police in protecting and serving the Haitian people. And together, we will continue to support the restoration of security in Haiti," he said.

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