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The Ottawa Initiative

Canadian Officials Initiate Planning for Military Ouster of Aristide
Haiti Progès - Vol. 20 No. 51 | March 5, 2002

A group of high-level North American and Latin American diplomats has been secretly meeting in Canada to plan President Jean Bertrand Aristide's removal from power and an ensuing foreign military occupation, according to an article by Michel Vastel in the Mar. 15 edition of the Canadian magazine "L'Actualité."

The group of officials, code named the "Ottawa Initiative on Haiti," wants regime change in Haiti this year before the Jan. 1, 2004 bicentennial of Haiti's independence, the article says. The group, which will next meet in April in El Salvador, has been convened by Canada's Secretary of
State for Latin America, Africa, and the French-speaking World, Denis Paradis, who will accompany the U.S. State Department's "Continental Initiatives" representative Otto Reich and Organization of American States (OAS) assistant secretary general Luigi Einaudi in a delegation to Haiti on Mar. 19.

"The international community intends, according to a new United Nations principle, to assume its responsibility to protect‚" Vastel writes. "This principle was established in Dec. 2001 by the International Commission for Intervention and the Sovereignty of States, created by Canada in Sep. 2000, in response to a call by the U.N. Secretary General. The responsibility to protect is defined as follows: When a population greatly suffers from the consequences of a civil war, an insurrection, state repression or the failure of its policies, and when the state in question is not willing or capable of putting an end to these sufferings or to avoid them, international responsibility to protect takes precedence over the principle of non-intervention." Vastel does not clarify from what document he pulled this quote.

In addition to Denis and OAS officials, a meeting of the "Ottawa Initiative" in late January included French Cooperation Minister, Pierre-André Wiltzer, two U.S. State Department functionaries, and El Salvador's Foreign Minister, Maria Da Silva. "It was the first time that the European economic community and the Intergovernmental Agency of the French-Speaking World ever participated in a meeting with the OAS," the article states.

OAS Resolution 822 last year instructed the Haitian government to hold early parliamentary and municipal elections this year. "We see the ironic situation now where the Haitian government is anxious to hold elections, but the opposition is refusing to go and trying to block them," said Ira Kurzban, a lawyer who has represented the Haitian government for many years.

The "Ottawa Initiative," if true, would complement nicely the calls for Aristide's extra-constitutional removal by the election-allergic Washington-backed Democratic Convergence opposition front. "It will be difficult to create the peaceful conditions necessary for the holding of credible elections in the country with Jean Bertrand Aristide in power," said Convergence leader Evans Paul of the Democratic Unity Confederation (KID) recently. "The electoral experiences with Aristide have all proven disastrous." Disastrous mainly in the sense that opposition candidates have lost.
Denis Paradis seems particularly intent on bringing change in Haiti. "If Canadians treated their animals the way that Haitian authorities treat their citizens," he said, "they would be placed in prison." Ironically, Paradis has not spoken out against the Bush administration's blockage of $500 in international aid and loans to Haiti which has contributed greatly to the dire straits of the Haitian people.

Vastel is vague about how a military occupation would unfold. "No decision has yet been taken, but in French diplomatic circles," he writes, "they say that there has been talk of a sort of guardianship‚ as in Kosovo... Even if the United Nations doesn't want this kind of intervention leading to military occupation, this might be inevitable until elections are organized."

The article indicates that in some way Paradis sees Haiti's internal problems as a "threat" to North American countries because Haiti might have, by some estimates, a population of 20 million by 2019. The correlation is unclear, but it is enough to excite Paradis. "It is a time bomb," he said, "which must be defused immediately."

Forwarded by the Haitian Lawyers' Leadership Network

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