(Ottawa) Fearing that the chaos that has plagued Haiti for months could turn the country into a failing state that could fall under the sway of an authoritarian foreign regime, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will offer U.S. President Joe Biden a emergency plan to accelerate the training of Haitian police officers.
Canada would be prepared to put approximately $250 million on the table as part of this plan to increase humanitarian assistance, strengthen governance in Haiti, train officers of the Haitian National Police (PNH) and to improve their salary conditions, according to information obtained by La Presse.
This sum was discussed at the beginning of the week behind the scenes, but the cabinet had to make a final decision about the extent of the financial effort that Canada will make. But it was estimated that the 250 million should be the sum of the minimum financial effort to lay the foundations for a return to normalcy.
In Ottawa, senior officers of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) are outright opposed to the deployment of Canadian soldiers in Haiti, according to our information. They fear like the plague that Canadian soldiers will be the target of attacks by young Haitians who are members of street gangs. Such a situation could become explosive in the event of a blunder by soldiers who would respond to the shootings of young people and kill people.
“They’re going to get shot!” Do you think it will pass the test of public opinion if one morning there are three Canadian police officers who are killed in an ambush? The next morning, we will ask to repatriate the troops to Canada, ”also assures Gilles Rivard, former Canadian ambassador to Port-au-Prince.
Added to this is the fact that the CAF does not have enough resources to add a mission to those already underway, Chief of the Defense Staff Wayne Eyre bluntly admitted. “My concern is just capacity,” he said in an interview with Reuters two weeks ago.
Canada is also consulting other member countries of the International Organization of La Francophonie, in particular Rwanda, which could contribute to the training of PNH officers.
“Haiti is on its way to becoming a failed [failing] state. This creates a migration crisis that has impacts in the United States, but also in Canada. The risk is that the country becomes very vulnerable to control by foreign actors or foreign countries. So it’s a security issue in our own hemisphere,” said a government source who requested anonymity because she was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
It’s a safe bet that President Biden will try again to persuade his host Justin Trudeau to lead an intervention force to stabilize the country – something the prime minister must continue to resist, insists Gilles Rivard.
“It will not give spectacular results at first, but at least it will perhaps change the situation,” concludes Mr. Rivard, who was stationed in Port-au-Prince from 2008 to 2010.
Independent journalist in Haiti, Harold Isaac shares this analysis. “Police need a morale boost. They need to know that they are supported. It takes better salaries, equipment, weapons,” he said in a phone conversation on WhatsApp.
He notes in passing that the Haitian population is wondering why Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister Mélanie Joly have not set foot on the island. “People I talk to say to me, ‘They went to Ukraine, why not come here?’ The least you could do would be to come here,” says the man who lived in Montreal for several years.
Before the arrival of President Biden on Thursday evening, the head of American diplomacy, Antony Blinken, affirmed that the international community continued to study the possibility of sending a force to Haiti. “There are discussions in the United Nations about some sort of multinational force, a discussion that we are actively participating in,” Blinken told the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
The idea of a multinational police or security force to help Haiti, ravaged by a political, security and economic crisis, has been under discussion for months, but has not yet come to fruition. It had been mentioned as early as last fall, with, at the time, a character of urgency. The United States has indicated that it is ready to support such a force, but not to lead it.
The sending of a foreign force awakens painful memories among Haitians. The country has already received American, French or Canadian troops, and UN missions, one of which brought cholera, causing an epidemic that killed more than 10,000 people.