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#509: U.S. Troops Pack Up, Haiti Questions Invasion Worth (fwd)


U.S. Troops Pack Up, Haiti Questions Invasion Worth 
03:27 p.m Sep 16, 1999 Eastern By Jennifer Bauduy 

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (Reuters) - Five years after a multibillion-dollar
U.S. invasion to restore democracy to Haiti,residents of the Caribbean
nation are poorer, hungrier, lessliterate and still getting murdered in
the streets. `When (the U.S. troops) came, we thought things would get a
little better. Instead, people are still being killed all the time,'' 
said Max Chery, 38, an unemployed mechanic, who along with several
thousand residents of upper Turgeau, a Port-au-Prince neighborhood, is
in danger of being forced from his home because it was built too close
to a water reservoir. Some 23,000 foreign troops invaded Haiti on Sept
19, 1994, to restore deposed President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a former
Catholic priest who became the country's first freely elected president
in 1990. Aristide was overthrown by the army seven months into his
term, setting off a brutal three-year military dictatorship in which  
some 5,000 of his suspected supporters were murdered and  tens of
thousands more people fled Haiti fearing for their lives.  Most foreign
troops are long gone from Haiti. The last group --  a force of 400 U.S.
military engineers and medical specialists -- is expected to close its
camp by early next year. U.S. officials said the withdrawal does not
mean the world is giving up on Haiti. Washington will continue to send
troops to   the country on temporary humanitarian missions, but will no
longer maintain a $20 million-per-year camp. While some fear the U.S.
pull-out will be followed by an explosion of violence, many Haitians
said they thought the troops' departure would make little difference. 
Gerta Noel, 42, said she appreciated the presence of the troops, who
have provided health care to thousands of Haitians,built schools, dug
wells and provided a humane U.S. face in Haiti. ``Sometimes they help
us, like if someone is in trouble they take  him some place else so he
isn't killed,'' said Noel, a mother of three who, like 70 percent of
Haitians, is unemployed and scrambles to feed her family.  Haiti's
annual per capita income has dwindled to $250 according to the World
Bank, the lowest in the Western  Hemisphere, while the cost of living
has skyrocketed since Washington clamped a trade embargo on Haiti during
the military regime.  Illiteracy has also hovered at about 65 percent. 
U.S. Ambassador Timothy Carney admitted Haiti is not the success story
some had hoped for. ``Haiti has not met the unrealistic expectations of
the international community since 1994,'' he told Reuters.``The modest
advances in the economy, the real, but still fragile improvements in the
police, and the spotty record in the  transition toward democracy
reflect Haiti's history and political style,'' he said.   Born in 1804
after an army of slaves beat back Napolean's  troops in the world's only
successful slave revolution, Haiti has been ruled by dictators during
most of its 200-year history. Since the overthrow of the army in 1994,
the United Nations  has created the country's first demilitarized
national police. But  the fledgling international force has been unable
to combat a  crime wave -- including a rash of political violence
sweeping the nation -- even with a permanent group of U.S. soldiers and
U.N. police trainers in Haiti. ``We had hoped for more,'' said Evans
Paul, the former mayor of Port-au-Prince who remains a political leader.
``We thought they would help ensure a climate of security, of political
stability. Unfortunately this was not done. ``But, I won't throw all the
blame on them, it's the responsibility of Haitians, first and
foremost,'' he said. A burgeoning drug trade may be partly to blame, as
might the large number of former soldiers and military-backed thugs who
kept their weapons after the invasion and now are believed to be engaged
in crime.   Even Haitians grateful for the U.S. intervention are furious
about Washington's refusal to hand over a mountain of evidence that
U.S. troops seized from the army and paramilitary groups shortly after
they landed.  Many Haitians believe that the CIA backed the coup leaders
 and the most notorious paramilitary organization, the Front for     
the Advancement and Progress of Haiti (FRAPH), and believe the documents
would verify this link.  ``The documents would reveal a great deal about
the U.S.collaboration with FRAPH, and expose those activities -- which
in my view would bring to light the way the U.S. was implicated in what
was going on in Haiti,'' said Alex Dupuy, professor of sociology at
Wesleyan University in Connecticut.  The United States has offered to
return the documents with the names of all American citizens removed,
but the Haitian government has refused.