CIDA: foreign "aid" in name only?
CIDA: foreign "aid" in name only?
A Senlis Council report released in August detailed the failure of Canadian programs supposedly aimed at alleviating poverty in
Six months earlier, the media was abuzz over a report that called for the abolition of CIDA because of its failure to alleviate poverty in
For example, exactly who is "aid" designed to aid? Or, is "aid" always aid in the sense that ordinary people use the word?
To answer those questions perhaps we need to look at CIDA's 20-year-old policy of pushing structural adjustment programs on African governments. Rather than "aid" people this seems to have been a major contributor to the continued impoverishment of the population. Or perhaps we should discuss CIDA's role in liberalizing African mining laws - to the benefit of Canadian corporations. (
Researching a book on Canadian foreign policy, I have come across numerous examples of Canadian "aid" that benefited the rich at the expense of the poor.
In the late 1980s, for example, millions in Canadian aid flowed to the elite in the Negros region of the
The media has failed to tie the massive rise in "aid" to
For the first 15 months of the post-coup regime, the deputy justice minister, Philipe Vixamar, was an employee of CIDA. His ministry was responsible for hundreds of political prisoners and a brutal police force. (The minister was an employee of USAID).
For the past three and a half years, the major recipient of Canadian aid has been the Haitian National Police (HNP), which without an army is the country's only armed force (aside, of course, from the 7000 UN troops occupying the country). The salaries received by a hundred or so Canadian police officers in
The primary role of Canadian police has been to train and assist the HNP. This coincided with a brutal campaign of political repression waged by the HNP against supporters of the overthrown government. According to The Lancet medical journal, in the 22 months after Aristide was toppled the HNP killed an estimated 1700 people in
Last month, Le Devoir quoted an unnamed official who said CIDA is spending $25 million to create a police academy to train Haitian officers. The article failed to mention the recent brutality of the HNP and their militarization under
In the months following the coup, nearly all new police were former military and, according to Reuters in March 2005, "Only one of the top 12 police commanders in the
The current head of the police, Mario Andresol, who was appointed by the de facto government, is a former military man who still wears his combat garb. The new HNP (which the head of the UN wants to triple in number) are responsible for all aspects of policing in the country, from beat cops and border patrol to the SWAT team and palace security.
This concentration of the armed force command structure puts those in charge in a better position to overthrow a government or exert political influence in other ways.
As the media exalt
Immediately after that army was disbanded, the
Historically, the Haitian elite and their foreign backers have had near absolute control over the country's armed forces. This control was weakened from 1995 to early 2004, which made it necessary for US marines and Canadian forces to invade the country to overthrow Aristide — a process more laborious than past coups, when the army simply killed or expelled the head of state (with US support of course).
Since the February 2004 coup, tens of millions in Canadian "aid" dollars have been spent to reestablish foreign and elite control over
So, who have our "aid" dollars really helped?
Yves Engler is the author of two books: