The government of Canada has declared that it will dispatch naval vessels to Haiti in order to gather intelligence pertinent to the situation of escalating gang-related violence in the nation of the Caribbean.
On Thursday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declared the deployment of navy ships from Canada to Haiti to collect intelligence in order to reduce the increase in gang violence in the Caribbean nation.
At the annual gathering of Caribbean leaders in the Bahamas, Prime Minister Trudeau talked about the concerning increase in homicides, sexual assaults, and abductions in Haiti since President Jovenel Moise was assassinated in July 2021. These acts are attributed to gangs that have become more confident since this event.
At the gathering, the Prime Minister of Haiti, Ariel Henry, appealed for a comprehensive foreign military intervention to halt the chaos. In October, Haiti called on the U.N. Security Council for assistance and proposed the U.S. and Canada take the lead in the force. However, no such intervention has come about, and neither of the countries has taken the initiative.
At the meeting of the 15-member Caricom trade bloc, it was announced that Canada would be sending ships shortly after a surveillance plane of theirs had gone on a mission to gather intelligence for the Haitian police and come back.
Prime Minister Trudeau remarked that Haiti is facing a grave situation with gang violence, political unrest, and dishonesty. He emphasized that it is the ideal time to unite and address the difficulties.
Canada will send navy vessels to Haiti for intelligence-gathering as part of efforts to quell worsening gang violence in the Caribbean nation, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Thursday.
— Mete Sohtaoğlu (@metesohtaoglu) February 17, 2023
Trudeau suggested that Canada and other countries in the vicinity of Haiti should collaborate to devise permanent solutions to bring back stability, let humanitarian help in, and enable free and impartial voting.
The Canadian government has imposed sanctions on two more Haitians: former interim president Jocelerme Privert and ex-political aide Salim Succar. Neither of them could be contacted for a reaction, bringing the total number of those banned from doing any financial activities in Canada due to alleged connections to criminal organizations to fifteen.
Thursday saw the U.S. State Department declare visa restrictions on five Haitians and seven of their relatives, citing their involvement in inciting violence, corruption, and disruption. Since October, 44 people have been subjected to these measures by the United States.
Prime Minister Trudeau announced his government would provide an additional $12.3 million in aid and a further $10 million to the International Office on Migration to protect Haitian women and children near the Haiti-Dominican Republic border. This is because the Dominican Republic has deported many Haitian people in the past year.
Trudeau expressed the significant burden he feels as a result of the human suffering he has witnessed in Haiti.
On Thursday, Trudeau and Henry held a private meeting in which Henry emphasized the necessity of Haiti having elections soon despite the increasing insecurity there.
In 2019, the U.N. reported that the number of homicides in Haiti escalated to 2,183, a 35% increase from the prior year. In addition, the number of kidnappings also rose dramatically to 1,359, more than double the amount reported the year before.
A UN Integrated Office in Haiti reported in the past month that violence related to gangs had reached a peak not seen in many years, forcing countless Haitians to abandon their homes due to the inter-gang conflict.
Several nations, such as Canada and the U.S., have given Haiti’s National Police military equipment and other assets, together with instruction, though the force only has 97 hundred active-duty members for a population of over 11 million. Gangs are believed to control about 60% of Port-au-Prince, the capital.
Prime Minister Trudeau has committed $1.8 million to combat illegal drug trafficking and bolster border and maritime security in the Caribbean region. Furthermore, Trudeau announced that the Canadian government will allocate $44.8 million to assist the Caribbean nations in combating climate change.
The Caricom meeting, which included the U.S. assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, Brian Nichols, was launched and is set to conclude on Friday.
Haiti’s Troubled History
According to the International Crisis Group, Haiti has a long political and civil unrest that dates back to its fight for independence from France in 1804. Since then, sporadic violence has broken out between rival factions vying for government control, leading to numerous coups and counter-coups. In addition, the Haitian military has been a major perpetrator of human rights abuses throughout history, committing torture and extrajudicial killings against civilians. In 1994, a U.S.-backed intervention ended a military dictatorship but also sparked widespread gang violence as the new government failed to provide adequate security or address economic inequality.
In recent years, Haiti’s gang activity has surged with rising levels of poverty and unemployment due in part to international aid cuts following Hurricane Matthew in 2016. Amongst this backdrop of instability, gangs have exploited existing weaknesses in Haitian law enforcement and perpetrated increasingly brazen attacks on civilians, including abductions for ransom and murder. The situation further deteriorated after President Moïse took office in 2018 as he sought to increase his power through a series of controversial decisions that led to large-scale protests and violent clashes with police.
Armed gangs have taken advantage of the political unrest by becoming more active at both local and national levels, targeting people from all walks of life, including business owners, politicians, journalists, police officers, and ordinary citizens. In response to this growing threat, Prime Minister Henry has requested assistance from the international community, which Canada appears ready to provide in the form of navy vessels tasked with intelligence-gathering operations.
Military generals may view this mission as an opportunity to restore order while simultaneously collecting valuable information on Haiti’s criminal networks that could be used in future operations against them. Furthermore, they may see it as a chance for Canada to demonstrate its commitment to peacekeeping efforts worldwide while reaffirming its close ties with Haiti – something that could be helpful if another crisis arises.
However, some experts caution that providing too heavy an international military presence could be perceived by Haitians as a violation of their sovereignty and do more harm than good by fuelling resentment amongst gang members who may feel threatened by foreign power rather than deterred by it. It is, therefore, necessary for Canada’s naval mission and other foreign interventions to remain proportionate in scope to not provoke further escalation but rather support local efforts toward long-term stability.
Canada + Haiti Alliance
Canada has a long history of providing assistance and support to Haiti. Most recently, the nation has agreed to deploy navy vessels in response to the worsening gang violence in the Caribbean nation. However, this is not the first time Canada has come to Haiti’s aid. Throughout its history, Canada has maintained an ally-ally relationship with Haiti that dates back to 1824.
At @CARICOMorg today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke with the Prime Minister of Haiti, Ariel Henry. The leaders discussed the ongoing crisis in Haiti and Canada’s support for the Haitian people. More on their meeting: https://t.co/KctzfUhsZ1 pic.twitter.com/ObOa0pzhfI
— CanadianPM (@CanadianPM) February 17, 2023
Since then, Canada has provided financial support and humanitarian assistance in times of crisis and on numerous occasions. For instance, during the economic collapse of Haiti’s agricultural sector in 2008, Canada contributed $27 million towards Haitian agriculture production. This was part of a more significant effort to restore stability within the country’s economy after years of political unrest and social upheaval.
The bond between Canada and Haiti was further strengthened when Canadian General Auguste Charles was appointed as commander-in-chief of Haiti’s army in 2004. This marked the beginning of an unprecedented period for both countries as General Charles worked hard to bring order within war-torn Haiti. He successfully integrated all branches of military forces into one unified army, which helped stabilize the country’s security situation and brought about a sense of unity among its citizens. General Charles also worked with local leaders to promote democracy and human rights throughout his tenure as commander-in-chief until 2010, when he resigned from his post due to differences with President Rene Preval over how best to handle growing lawlessness within the nation’s borders.
Given their longstanding alliance, it is not surprising that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced his decision to send navy vessels as part of efforts to quell worsening gang violence in Haiti at an annual meeting with Caribbean leaders earlier this month. The move signals that both countries continue to share a commitment to maintaining stability within Haiti despite their political differences over how best to bring about order within its borders.
General Charles believes that such military interventions are only one part of what needs to be done if true peace is going to be achieved in Haiti and prevent future outbreaks from occurring again in other parts of the world where similar circumstances exist (Charles, “Stabilizing a Nation: A Commander’s Perspective on Human Rights In War-Torn Nations”). He recommends that long-term solutions such as building better educational systems, creating job opportunities for young people, and investing more in healthcare are needed if there ever hope for real change for nations like Haiti is going to be realized. Ultimately, it is through continued collaboration between Canada and other countries willing to work together toward finding lasting solutions that any meaningful progress can be made in ending cycles of violence around the world.