Nasty 10th Birthday to OIH – Text #3: Access to – some – information

Nasty 10th Birthday to OIH – Text #2: Cayes Speech 4 December 2002
February 2, 2013
Canada Owes Haiti More Than Apology
February 25, 2014

Nasty 10th Birthday to OIH – Text #3: Access to – some – information

Excerpt from Anthony Fenton’s article:

In March of 2003, Quebec Journalist Michel Vastel leaked the details of a secret meeting on Haiti hosted by the Canadian government on January 31-February 1st, 2003. This high-level roundtable, dubbed the “Ottawa Initiative on Haiti,” was facilitated by then-Secretary of State for Latin America/Minister for La Francophonie, Denis Paradis. No Haitians were invited but it was attended by State Department official Mary Ellen Gilroy (who also attended the opening of the right-wing Haitian lobby group, the Haiti Democracy Project), an unidentified official from the European Commission, officials from the OAS, including the Assistant Secretary General, Luigi Einuadi, and the Administrator General of La Francophonie, Roger Dehaybe. (a Canadian, Clement Duhaime, has recently succeeded Dehaybe).

Also attending this secret meeting were El Salvador’s Foreign Minister, Maria Eugenia Brizuela de Avila, long-time counterinsurgent and coup plotter Otto Reich, and French Minister Pierre-Andre Wiltzer. According to Vastel, both in the article and in interviews subsequent to the February 2004 coup d’etat, the theme of “Aristide must go,” the restoration of Haiti’s disbanded military, and the potential for a Kosovo-style UN trusteeship over Haiti, were discussed. Vastel insists that both Paradis and officials within the French government affirmed these details.

Christian Lapointe helped co-ordinate and attended the meeting, as did future (and present) Ambassador to Haiti Claude Boucher, who is known to be close to elements within the elite Group of 184 political opposition to Lavalas and is virulently anti-Aristide.

Documents obtained via Canada’s Access to Information Act reveal that Lapointe was in on key high-level deliberations that may have involved the topic of Haiti’s regime change. Lapointe himself may have censored the portions of these documents that could prove the international community’s plans to overthrow the government of Jean Bertrand Aristide more than one year before the regime change took place. According to an officer within the Department of Foreign Affairs Access to Information and Privacy division, Lapointe was the final person through which the Ottawa Initiative on Haiti documents had to pass prior to being released. Another officer referred to approximately 1,000 pages pertaining to the Ottawa Initiative on Haiti meeting. Only 67 pages were released.

Here are some interesting points and context gleaned from the Ottawa Initiative on Haiti documents, cited at some length for the first time . Some of this is (unofficially) translated from French:

Page 30 “Annex 1” refers to several “Consensus Points” that came out of the meeting, which were geared toward an “Action Plan.” Point “F” of the ‘consensus points’ is entitled “main constraints.” Four of the six items under this heading are deleted*. The following page, 31, reads as follows:

“Next Steps”
1. Action Plan to Be Built
A) Ensure the application of Resolution 822 (authored by Roger Noriega while he was U.S. Ambassador to the OAS) by slice, according to a technique known as “the sausage” since it is not possible to follow-up on all the elements of the resolution at once.
B) In exchange for the application of elements of Resolution 822, the international community would be willing to come to Haiti’s aid following an initiative of the international community to approach both President Aristide and the other Haitian actors.

  1. Ensure training and protection for Haitian media and further sensitise the international media on the Haitian situation by allowing them to operate safely on the ground.
  2. If all this fails and we find ourselves nonetheless in an impasse (cul-de-sac), (MAJOR DELETION).

Page 32 (dated February 12, 2003) then shows a letter from then Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham, applauding Secretary of State for Latin America and La Francophonie Denis Paradis for the initiative. The following page, 33, Graham sends a letter to OAS Secretary General Cesar Gavaria, confirming a follow-up meeting to be held in El Salvador in April 2003.

Page 34 (February 7, 2003) finds Lapointe sending a defensive-toned letter to “USS” regarding the Ottawa Initiative meeting. Lapointe points out that Graham and then-Prime minister Jean Chretien “both applauded the initiative…At the bureaucrats level, CIDA (Canadian International Development Agency) was kept abreast of the initiative on a constant basis this, as early as October 2002.” Lapointe’s letter to “USS” ends with another major deletion following a reference to a meeting in Ethiopia between Canadian Minister of International Cooperation Anne Whelan and her British counterpart Clare Shot. The significant deletion continues on the next page, and the letter finishes with a curious reference to a “M. Fairchild” who “preferred not to play an active role and abandoned his responsibilities into the hands of other members of the drafting committee. Further, during the (Ottawa Initiative on Haiti) meeting, he constantly questioned the validity of the process.”

On page 37, there is a copy of an e-mail correspondence (dated March 5, 2003) between then Canadian Ambassador to Haiti Kenneth Cook (who is currently Canada’s Ambassador to Guatemala), and Lapointe. Cook sends Lapointe a copy of Former President Leslie Manigat’s March 4th text decrying the call to place Haiti under U.N. tutelage. Cook informs Lapointe that Manigat also “blames the international community for having supported Aristide” and concludes that Port au Prince having just slowly awoken from the carnival which ended at 5 a.m. that morning, “the media are still relatively calm.” Lapointe informs Cook that “It appears that l’Actualite received over 100 letters as of the previous day and that 70% of them supported the thesis explored in the article while the rest recalled that Aristide was democratically elected.” cook then informs Lapointe that he has been asked by the Haitian foreign minister to see him the next day at 1 p.m. Cook writes to Lapointe: “I imagine it is concerning the article. I will let you know what the object of the meeting was.”

Page 44 finds another significant deletion under the heading “Position of the Francophonie Intergovernmental Organization.” The deletion occurs immediately following the passage “M. Roger Dehaybe…proposed 3 solution paths around the Haitian political situation…DELETION…The Francophonie wishes to see the reflection group on Haiti maintained. To this effect, it welcomes favourably to be associated, within the limits of its possibilities, to the reconstruction effort in Haiti, once the circumstances permit  it.”

Page 48, in an e-mail from Ambassador Cook to Lapointe, the subject is a letter to Prime Minister Chretien from Coffy Ferere of Fanmi Lavalas Canada. All comments made by Foreign Affairs spokesperson Selma Ferhatbegovic are deleted.

Lastly, on page 53, Cook sends his update (dated March 6, 2003) on his meeting with Haiti’s foreign minister to Lapointe and company. Most of his letter is deleted, except for the surviving portion which reads, “in order to save credibility, [the government of Canada] should clearly dissociate itself from the unacceptable declarations attributed without detour to Denis Paradis…or it would be uneasy for the Haitian government to dialogue in good faith and to deal without reticence with Canadian envoys or correspondents.”

Given Lapointe’s intimate involvement in the Haiti intervention and since Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs has characterized Ecuador as suffering from “chronic instability” and have expressed “concern” over the human rights situation,  Latin America observers should keep their eye on Christian Lapointe and the Canadian Embassy in Quito, not to mention Canada’s Embassy in Guatemala, headed by another primary Canadian figure in the Haiti coup, Kenneth Cook.

*Most deletions were made under Section15(1) of the Access to Information Act, whereby:

“the head of a government institution may refuse to disclose any record requested under this Act that contains information the disclosure of which could reasonably be expected to be injurious to the conduct of international affairs, the defence of Canada or any state allied or associated with Canada or the detection, prevention or suppression of subversive or hostile activities…”

See Online Publication:

Ecuador’s New Canadian Ambassador Helped Plan Haiti Coup Posted by Anthony Fenton – December 6, 2005,

1 Comment

  1. marie nadine PiErRe says:

    One love. Well, here is more proof.about how ex president.Aristide was kidnapped and exiled. I am soo sick of.these ignorant hater Haitians who keep making moves to.stop the complete and total emancipation of.our people. I say in the name of Emperor Jan Jak Desalin, death to them all. Blessed love.

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