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6657: Re: 6635 Karshan/Tipper/Rocks (fwd)

To: Bob Corbett <corbetre@webster.edu>

Richard's excellent questions about the change in popular feelings toward
the U.S. presence in Haiti would make a great national debate both in the
U.S. and Haiti. Each of us could suggest a number of  reasons for early
popular enthusiasm for U.S. /UN forces which vowed to end the coup and
restore the constitutional government, just as we could name many reasons
for some
disillusionment of the Haitian people at the length and nature of the U.S.

As power transfers in the U.S. to the Bush Administration, some of us have
flashbacks of the tortured path U.S. policy has traveled over the past 30
years. Flaws in U.S. policy toward Haiti have mirrored many of the flaws in
policy worldwide. Has the U.S. political leadership learned anything from
past mistakes (and a couple of successes)?
The visit by Mrs. Tipper Gore to Cite Soleil referred to by Richard and
Michelle is just one example of troubling incidents which need not have
happened. In addition to Michelle's background on the incident, I seem to
recall that the U.S. Embassy was taking her to visit medical facilities of
Dr. Boulos in Cite Soleil. Given the rarity of such visits to Haiti, her
short stay in Haiti, her high profile and the symbolic connotations of all
the possible places she might have been taken to visit, it is striking that
this particular destination was among the few chosen by the U.S. Embassy
staff and/or Mrs. Gore's staff, given the extremely controversial nature of
the Boulos facility; which had been a recipient of very large amounts of
U.S. aid prior to and during the coup, and the views many in Cite Soleil
expressed through unflattering graffiti about some of the clinic's staff and
Dr. Boulos himself regarding their conduct prior to and during the coup.

If there is one word to describe a key historical flaw of U.S. - Haiti
relations, many of us might suggest the word "partners". What is the profile
of those the U.S. has historically chosen as partners in Haiti in the
developmental, military/security, and economic spheres? How are these
choices made? How are the substance of aid programs decided and funded? And
most importantly for the future, who will be the partners under the Bush

It will be fascinating and important for people in Washington and Haiti to
watch this closely. I wish I could feel more confident that the Bush
will do a bit of work and try to shed the decades of vitriol toward Haiti
which have led so many Republicans and more than a few Democrats,  to write
so many  ill-informed statements and laws about Haiti and Haitians. May the
decades of bias and condescension toward Haiti end now. May Haitians and
non-Haitians continue to forge and maintain strong partnerships together
integrity, respect for democracy and human rights, and a commitment to
listen to the Haitian people so that Haiti may be finally free to make its
own decisions as a sovereign nation. May pigs and possums have wings and fly

Before I wake up from this mid-winter revery, I wonder...
We will always want to be vigilant and speak out when we see disturbing
events and trends, but negativity can snowball to the point that it
overwhelms budding signs of positive change. Have we spent enough time
recognizing some good things going on in Haiti and under the Clinton
I wonder, If  people in Haiti and abroad decide to seize this coming
moment of  change in leadership in the U.S. and in Haiti to move further
so many dark days of the past, in keeping with the true values upon which
both great nations are founded, will we catch that moment?
Maybe this won't happen, but wouldn't it be great if we find that we have
ourselves in a frame of mind to be ready for some real positive change,
wherever and whenever it begins?

Mike Levy