Secretary of State Melanie Joly is trying to help broker a plan to get Haiti to stand firm after gas shortages fueled violence, as Latin American countries focus on growing inequality.
“We need to be in crisis management mode,” she said in an interview Wednesday from Peru.
“There’s no security in Haiti right now; gangs have taken control of all walks of life.”
She spoke at the start of the general assembly of the Organization of American States, which included most of the countries across the Americas.
In Lima, Joly will convene a meeting with Haiti and neighboring countries to push ahead with a plan to tackle fuel shortages that have sparked protests, looting and the collapse of medical facilities.
She said that should include sanctions against gang members who are blocking access to the Varreux fuel depot and a management plan to weed out corruption.
“We need to support a Haitian-led solution, and we need to promote (political) parties because the status quo is not an option.”
Joly said Canada will also try to combat misinformation online that blames soaring inflation on the United States, rather than on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“Russia is targeting the very same anti-American sentiment that you can hear and feel in parts of our hemisphere, and we need to point out any form of lies they have,” she said. spread to cause division”.
Maxwell Cameron, a University of British Columbia political science professor who specializes in Latin America, said Joly will have to be careful in how she raises the Ukraine issue.
“It seems that the government of Canada (Canada) has been particularly proactive in the diplomatic scene in the Western Hemisphere, or in other areas, although they are certainly focused on Ukraine,” Cameron said.
He noted that some countries such as Brazil have not taken a firm stance in the Ukraine conflict, while undemocratic states often align themselves with Russia.
Cameron said countries like China are gaining influence in the region ahead of Canada and the US. The leaders, he added, are focused on issues of economic polarization and rising authoritarianism rather than power struggles in Europe.
“There’s an opportunity for Canada to step up and play a slightly bigger role, and should do it – but I don’t see that happening.”
However, Joly notes that Russia’s war has led to food shortages in parts of South America and gas becoming unaffordable in some small Caribbean countries.
“Inequality is linked to complex crises facing many people across the hemisphere,” she said.
For years, members of the Organization of American States debated whether to include undemocratic states. Cuba’s membership is on hold, while Nicaragua withdrew this year following condemnation over the country’s human rights record.
Technically, Venezuela remains a member of the group, although countries including Canada have attempted to have a delegate from the democratic opposition represented, rather than a delegate sent by the regime. the brutal dictatorship of Nicolas Maduro.
“This is not the setting in which Canada hopes to operate,” Cameronsaid said.
“These are difficult times for a country like Canada that wants to be a neutral broker that embraces multilateralism and democracy as much as possible, which is not seen as perfectly aligned with the United States. .”
Canada previously helped lead an effort to authorize Venezuela’s dictatorship and recognize dissident leader Juan Guaido as the country’s head of government.
But Cameron said after meager success, leaders must now decide how they can work with the regime.
“One has to be pragmatic,” he said.
“You no longer have a figure inside Venezuela that can claim that legitimacy, so it’s time to reset that policy; it’s time to look beyond Guaido.”
Cameron said the transition to authoritarianism in Guatemala and El Salvador raises further questions, but he said stronger democracies like Colombia could work with Canada.
Joly said Canada maintains its relationship with Cuba while voicing its strong opposition to authoritarian countries like Venezuela.
“We condemn the human rights abuses of the Maduro regime, and we are demanding and pushing the parties to return to the negotiating table,” she said.
Joly added that Canada is also pushing to reform global financial institutions, to prevent an economic fallout in the smaller states.
“Many countries are facing severe budget problems and we cannot let them down because (by) doing so we are letting down millions of people.”
This Canadian Press report was first published on October 5, 2022.