February 23, 2004

The Haitian Bind

From the Guardian (UK), Throttled by history

Aristide has been dealt few cards, and those he had he has played badly. He has tainted a nascent democratic culture. But to allow him to be deposed at the hands of former dictators will destroy it altogether. Aristide could do far better for Haiti. Haiti could do far worse than Aristide.

I'm torn. On the one hand, I think the US needs to send troops, backed up with numbers from CARICOM and other nations, most notably, Canada. It's a regional move that needs to be taken to prevent further bloodshed and a mass exodus of Haitian refugees to Miami's shores. However, the US, Canada, the EU and CARICOM's posturing has led to the current crisis. By thwarting Haiti's fledging democracy -- by imposing stiff and unfair trade practices; withholding loan guarantees (which are often nearly impossible to repay in the first place); by supporting thugs that seek a violent overthrow of a flawed, but democratically elected Aristide; and, by ignoring the oppressive, despotic, violent aims of pre-democratic groups aligned with Duvalierists/Ton Ton Macoutes -- we're setting up Haiti to fail and for us to overtake another nation under false pretenses.

Haiti's best hope right now is for Aristide to negotiate a peaceful, respectful departure and new elections in a timely, democratic fashion.

I have no hope that that will happen. Too bad no one is paying attention in this hemisphere. At least not until the refugees are detained on Miami's beaches and 100s, if not 1000s, are killed in the struggle.

Posted by ronn at February 23, 2004 08:38 AM


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Tracked on February 25, 2004 12:37 AM

The situation is so incredibly complex that's it's difficult to take a side without facing a barrage of contradictions. When analyzing the conflict, I choose to consider the historical perspective. As the author points out: "Haiti's political class has failed it, but the first black republic has also been squeezed dry by a vengeful west". It is a great tragedy indeed. The political leaders of Haiti have to become better at self governance and compromise. At this juncture, (and in preceeding decades) the prevailing political attitude has been one of "to the winner goes all the spoils". This doesn't work, ultimately, it's the common people that are made to suffer the consequences as the country goes through a vicious circle of political and economic turmoil. In the long run, democratic stability in Haiti will depend on the Haitian people's resolve to work through their differences while embracing the ideals of a true democracy. Posted by: Haiti Pundit on February 25, 2004 11:06 AM