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#845: Haiti and the Vatican : Kozyn replies

From: John C. Kozyn <jckozyn@mnsinc.com>

From: Robert Lawless <lawless@twsuvm.uc.twsu.edu>

> I believe that the Vatican was the only ?state? to recognize the de facto
> regime (of Cédras).  Do they give a rationale?  Does anyone have detailed
> information on the relations between the de facto regime and the
> Vatican?  Did the Vatican give Cédras any sort of aid and support?  What
> was the reaction of the Vatican to the invasion and occupation by the
> U.S.A.-led forces that reinstalled Aristide?  Did the Vatican have any
> official position on the two administrations of Aristide?  I assume that
> they recognized the administration of Aristide (both times) as legitimate.

Excellent questions.

Yes, the Vatican was the only state to recognize the de factos. I
believe it was 1992 at the time of Bazin. The assertion is correct since
the new Papal Nuncio (the Vatican's diplomatic representative) at that
time presented his credentials to a de facto president. (It was not
Cédras, it was either Nérette or Jonaissant - I really don't remember
which puppet it was).

The Vatican's rationale - far be it from me to be speaking for the Holy
See ;) - goes like this (IIRC the arguments pertaining to a similar
situation in Chile after 1973): The Roman Catholic Church, despite the
fact that it operates as a state, qua state, argues that it has
relations with peoples not governments. Ergo, it does not matter who is
in power, the Church must still tend to its flock. That is a crude
sketch of what I remember. I don't think any apologies or explanations
came out, but maybe others remember differently.

The aid or support was less material than it was psychological and, most
importantly, political. By recognizing the illicit régime, I would argue
that they emboldened them, they gave them legitimacy and they protected
them from more serious condemnation from the international community
than what _finally_ developed fully three years later.

I don't remember reading of any Vatican reaction to the "immaculate
invasion". If I'm wrong I know I'll be corrected though ;)

I would argue that recognition of the de factos was in and of itself a
reality check regarding the Vatican's feelings for Aristide. They had to
recognize that Aristide was the legitimate president. The whole world
did, ne c'est pas? Yet they presented their credentials to the coup
régime. Why indeed? 

Now, here is the interesting part Robert. Other diplomatic
representatives accredited to Haiti during this period presented their
credentials to Aristide (in exile, in Washington. U.S. ambassador
William L. Swing comes to mind). Now, why couldn't the Vatican have done
similarly? Like I said, excellent questions!

(Various administrations - that is governments - under Aristide don't
make a difference. Credentials are always presented to a head of state,
not a head of government.

John Kozyn