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

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A shipment of armoured vehicles from Canada and the U.S. arrived in Haiti on Saturday as violence ensues in the nation, but some experts are questioning Canada's decision to intervene. 

The coordinated shipment was planned under a joint operation with the Royal Canadian Air Force and the U.S. Air Force. Global Affairs Canada released a statement Saturday evening confirming the joint delivery of armoured vehicles from the Canadian and U.S. military has arrived in Haiti.

“Today, Canadian and U.S. military aircraft arrived in Port-au-Prince, Haiti to transfer vital Haitian government-purchased security equipment, including tactical and armoured vehicles, and supplies to the Director General of the Haitian National Police (HNP),” the statement reads.

The statement, issued by Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly and National Defence Minister Anita Anand, says the equipment is intended to help the Haitian National Police against violence insinuated by "criminal actors."

There has been growing concern for the nation who had their president assassinated last year, is experiencing an ongoing cholera epidemic and sexual violence against women, children and men by gangs. The Haitian government had also urged countries like Canada and the U.S. to provide security assistance.

The federal government says Canada will be working with other international partners to help Haiti’s law enforcement in training more police officers. The statement did not include if any additional police tools like firearms and bulletproof vests were included in the shipment. Canada's ambassador to Haiti Sebastien Carriere also said on Twitter they will not be releasing the vehicle numbers or models to avoid exposing the information to gangs in the country.

While Canada has pledged financial aid in recent months for Haiti, experts and activists that have been closely following the events in the country over the last 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 the ambassador between 2008 and 2010 and later again in 2014, says Canada shouldn’t intervene in Haiti’s affairs until the country is able to make an agreement between its society and the government to run an election and solidify a government.

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

Haitian-Canadian activist Jean Saint-Vil says the Haitian people have been feeling the same.

“Get out. Haitians have been telling Canada, the United States, Europe to get out,” he told CTV News in an interview.

Saint-Vil says instead there needs to be reparations made to the country starting with the United Nations involvement in the cholera outbreak. In 2013 the UN had disputed claims that their peacekeepers brought cholera to the country during recovery efforts after the 2010 earthquake. The UN did not say they started the epidemic but they did admit their own involvement in 2016 after a report made by a UN investigator was leaked.

Since 2010, the cholera outbreak has killed nearly 10,000 people on the island according to the World Health Organization.

“The reason why they are propping up this thing right now is to pretend that this is a humanitarian intervention,” he said.

In a tweet following the statement on the new shipment, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reiterated Canada’s commitment to support Haiti’s law enforcement.

“Our two countries remain committed to supporting the Haitian National Police’s work of protecting and serving the people of Haiti. And together, we’ll continue to support the restoration of security in Haiti,” he said.  

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