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Charest, Harper Meet with Unelected Haitian PM

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Issue: 35 Section: Canadian News Geography: Canada, Quebec

March 22, 2006

Charest, Harper Meet with Unelected Haitian PM

by Francesca Manning

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Top: demonstrators carry signs depicting Latortue with the words "wanted for crimes against humanity". Above: Charest with Latortue. photo: Aaron Lakoff [View all photos]
Gerard Latortue, the unelected Prime Minister of Haiti, visited Jean Charest in a private meeting on Saturday, March 11. Spokesperson for Charest said that "The premier wanted to thank him for what he did for Haiti and get an update on the situation there."

Amnesty International is one of many organizations who have accused Latortue of crimes against human rights, including the authorization of police to fire on demonstrators in Haiti, approving the jailing of hundreds of political opponents, and supporting the violent and repressive Haitian National Police in their crackdowns on poor neighborhoods and sporting events. The Haitian National Police are also widely believed to perpetrate ongoing attacks on the leadership and support base of the widely-popular political party, Fanmi Lavalas.

Serge Bouchereau, of the group Resistance Haitienne au Quebec, said that "By agreeing to meet with Mr. Latortue -- a criminal against humanity -- we believe that Mr. Jean Charest has become silently complicit... The people of Haiti want nothing to do with Mr. Latortue, who is an imposed prime minister who was parachuted into Haiti by Washington, Canada and France."

Outside of the meeting, a group of about 70 protesters chanted "Latortue, assassin! Charest, accomplice!" and handed out pictures of Haitian victims of police violence laying on the streets of Cite Soleil, Haiti.

Yves Engler, of the group Haiti Action Montreal, expressed concern that Latortue's visit was an attempt to secure certain agreements between Canada and Haiti before the newly elected Rene Preval takes office.

The Haitian community in Quebec is the largest in Canada, holding some 75,000 Haitians. The province has spent just under $5 million in "aid" for Haiti since 1997.

Francesca Manning

» Hard Beat News: Latortue Greeted By Protests During 'Secret' Canada Visit

» Canadian Press: Charest meets with interim Haitian leader in Montreal amid vocal protests

» Montreal Gazette: Protest decries Charest meeting Haitian leader

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The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.

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