Opposition leader Juan Guaido argues for National Guards to let him and all opposition lawmakers into the National Assembly, outside the legislature in Caracas, Venezuela, Jan. 7, 2020. (Matias Delacroix/AP)
A few months ago, I was fortunate enough to be offered a preview of Haiti Betrayed, a documentary by filmmaker and photographer Elaine Brière. The film, which concerns the lengthy history of interference, subversion and outright invasion by developed nations to undermine Haitian sovereignty, begins with a cri de coeur against one of the countries most responsible for Haiti’s current state of immiseration: Canada.
In the opening scene, a Haitian man, standing across the street from the Canadian embassy in Port-au-Prince, screams remonstrations against the edifice in Haitian Creole: “We don’t have anything against Canada! Why are you against us?”
The film makes a damning case for Canada’s role in facilitating the ousting of Haiti’s democratically elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide. This coup-from-without enabled the military regime that followed his overthrow; Canada has never apologized for the horrific violence committed by the RCMP-trained National Police against the Haitian protesters who rose up in response.
The film arrives at a rather fortuitous time, as today’s Liberal government continues the tradition of undermining the ability of oppressed people in foreign nations to achieve self-determination, while covering its actions in the gossamer-thin ruse of actually supporting those human rights abroad.
In late January, Juan Guaidó, the disputed leader of Venezuela’s National Assembly and self-declared “interim president,” embarked on a global tour to garner support for his year-long bid to militarily oust President Nicolás Maduro. He was received warmly by Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who addressed him as “interim president.” It bears mentioning that Guaidó did not run as a presidential candidate in the 2018 Venezuelan elections. Even if he had wanted to, he does not lead a political party, nor does he belong to one (Guaidó resigned from Voluntad Popular last year to “focus completely on the freedom of Venezuela”).
In fact, prior to Guaidó’s appointment as the head of the National Assembly in January 2019, he was practically unknown. And yet there he was in Ottawa, with our government lending support to another would-be coup regime…
This article appears in print in the March 2020 issue of Maclean’s magazine with the headline, “Wrong side of the coup.” Subscribe to the monthly print magazine here.