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5881: Haiti's Fate Since Called Tragic (fwd)

From: nozier@tradewind.net

Wednesday November 22 2:34 AM ET Haiti's Fate Since Called Tragic 
 By GEORGE GEDDA, Associated Press Writer 

WASHINGTON (AP) - ``We celebrate the return of democracy to your
country.'' Amid doves and balloons, President Clinton (news - web sites)
was in an ebullient mood when he uttered those words to the Haitian
people during a visit to Port-au-Prince on March 31, 1995. It was six
months after an American-led force deposed a military junta in Haiti and
reinstated ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who was elected in
1991.At the time, the U.S. intervention seemed like an unqualified
success. Not anymore. Today little remains of the democracy that Clinton
eagerly celebrated on that spring day in 1995. Of all Clinton's foreign
policy initiatives of the past eight years, Haiti is among those that
have yielded  the most meager results. Former Rep. Michael Barnes,
D-Md., who fought hard for a restoration of democracy during the period
 of military rule in Haiti, said Tuesday, ``All friends of Haiti are
disappointed with the tragic lack of progress - economically,
politically and in every way.''Aristide stepped down in 1996, giving way
to an elected successor, and is expected to receive a mandate for a
five-year term in elections on Sunday. But the legitimacy of the process
is being questioned because all of the country's major opposition       
parties are boycotting the balloting. Georges Fauriol, who watches Haiti
from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, says the
process is so rigged in Aristide's favor that he refuses to dignify the
balloting as an ``election.''`I call it an event,'' Fauriol told a
gathering Tuesday at the Woodrow Wilson Center, a Washington         
research group. At the heart of the disillusionment are the
parliamentary elections of this past May, which resulted in announced
victories by large margins for candidates backed by Aristide and his
Lavalas Family Party. When Leon Manus, the chairman of the Provisional
Electoral Council, tried to call attention to irregularities, he said
his ``safety was seriously endangered.''``At the top governmental level,
unequivocal messages were transmitted to me on the consequences that    
would follow if I refused to follow the false final results,'' he said
in a report. Concerned about perceived death threats, he fled the
country. The Clinton administration has urged Haitian authorities to
remedy the ``serious irregularities and deficiencies'' evident in the
May elections. The appeals have been ignored.In the absence of
meaningful change, the administration has withheld support for Sunday's
elections, financially or through observer missions.Aristide, a
priest-turned-politician, lived in U.S. exile after he was deposed in
1991. He was treated by many in Congress and elsewhere as a democratic
martyr. To Caleb McCarry, a Republican staff member of the House
International Relations Committee,Aristide's prospective return to power
does not bode well for Haiti.``Aristide is prepared to drive the train
off the tracks,'' McCarry said Tuesday.Pentagon (news - web sites)
officials say up to 20 percent of U.S.-bound South American cocaine goes
through Haiti, its flow unimpeded by Haitian authorities.
Rep. Benjamin Gilman, R-N.Y., chairman of the House International
Relations Committee, expresses fear that Haiti will become a
``narcostate.'' Administration officials attribute growing crime
problems in Haiti to a sharp reduction Haiti's police force.
 Fauriol notes that hundreds of millions of dollars in assistance from
the United States and other countries  has been frozen because of a lack
of progress on reform.``That in effect has been wasted away,'' he says.
 U.S. humanitarian assistance averaging about $90 million annually has
been sent to Haiti for the past several years.
But nearly all has been channeled through private and non-governmental
organizations. U.S. officials want these funds kept beyond the reach of
Haitian authorities.