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#673: Plan to lift Haiti out of poverty falls far short__ (fwd)


Published: Sunday, October 3, 1999  
 Plan to lift Haiti out of poverty falls far short______

(PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI)____ Except for a few guards and maintenance
workers, Haiti's Legislative Palace is an empty shell these days. Sixty
percent of the population is illiterate and gets by on less than $1 a
day. And serious problems in the corrupt justice system ``undermine
individual rights, due process and the rule of law,'' says a recent U.N.
report.  Hardly the future that the United States and the United Nations
envisioned five years ago for Haiti, the poorest nation in the Western
Hemisphere.In 1995, an ambitious international mission of 20,000 troops,
mostly  American, dismantled a dictatorship that had gained power in a
coup  d'etat and reinstated Haiti's first democratically elected
president,Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The intervention mission aimed to
build democratic institutions in a country that had been dominated by 
dictators for nearly two centuries. It also planned to develop economic
vitality and improve life for the 7 million inhabitants and, ultimately,
stem the flow of Haitians risking their  lives in rickety boats to
emigrate to the United States.  But five years and $2 billion in U.S.
aid have yielded only modest gains:a civilian police force, training of
new judges, a doubling of school enrollment to 1.6 million students.  
Overall, Haitian and foreign officials acknowledge, the effort fell far
short of Clinton administration goals. A large part of the intervention
force's legacy among Haitians is disillusionment with democracy and the
foreign governments that pledged help.``We walked with them because we
had so much hope that salvation would finally come for our problems,''
said Eddy Pierre-Luis, a jobless Port-au-Prince resident. ``But now,
things are dark and getting darker.  Democracy has not improved our
lives. It is just a word to me.''The intervention mission leaves behind
a weak, financially constrained state unable to meet its people's basic
needs. Only a quarter of the  population has access to safe drinking
water; few have electricity or phone service. About half the children
under age 5 suffer from  malnutrition, and per capita annual health
spending is $21, compared with $38 in sub-Saharan Africa. Reflecting
widespread discontent, only   5 percent of registered voters turned out
in April 1997 for the last local elections.`Overall, our expectations
were too high,'' said U.S. Ambassador Timothy Carney. ``Did we let
ourselves be led by our hopes instead of analysis?''The intervention
gradually has been reduced to a small U.N.police-training mission, which
is to end in November, and a human rights mission that is to close at
the end of the year. The 480 U.S. military personnel who are
refurbishing schools and conducting medical training are to leave by the
end of January, ending the full-time American military presence.     
The United Nations plans to extend its role here, focusing on economic
and political development, and U.S. reserves will perform occasional   
humanitarian services. But for many Haitians, the departure of the   
intervention force symbolizes a reduction in the U.S. commitment to   
make things work.