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From: nozier <nozier@tradewind.net>

 Published Tuesday, January 16, 2001, in the Miami Herald
 Welcome change in policy from President-elect Aristide.

 After a dangerous flirtation with cocaine smugglers, Haiti finally is
 positive signals about fighting drugs. The Haitian government has
agreed to cooperate with American anti-narcotics efforts along its
coastline. And its new president-elect, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, has
pledged to enact tough new laws against traffickers and money launderers
who have quickly turned Haiti into a haven for Colombian drug lords. The
measures are necessary and a welcome change from recent policies that
have resulted in Haiti's rapid ascendancy as a major drop-off point for
illegal drugs. Both the outgoing administration of Bill Clinton and the
incoming one of George W. Bush should be pleased and supportive of
Haiti's change in direction. For three years, Haiti's parliament failed
to ratify a pact with the United States that would have allowed U.S.
ships and planes to patrol Haitian waters and airspace. But last month,
the parliament endorsed the agreement. Now President-elect Aristide vows
to support two new measures that would make it
 tougher for drug dealers to operate in Haiti. One bill would require
depositors of
 large amounts of cash to fill out a form and would force banks to open
their books
 on trafficking suspects. The second bill sets stiffer penalties for
convicted dealers
 and makes it easier to extradite suspects to the United States for
 It's a pity that the new get-tough measures weren't put into effect
earlier. But the
 Haitian government has struggled of late with creating basic
infrastructure, such
 as roads and sewers, and with establishing rudimentary systems of
 education and economic development.
Meanwhile, Colombian drug traffickers seized on Haiti's close proximity,
its lax
 law enforcement and its eager bribe-takers to virtually transform the
country into a
 transshipment fixture of drug-smuggling operations. Evidence of the
 activities is plainly visible in mushrooming sales of luxury homes and
cars, and
 burgeoning banking enterprises in a country where per-capita income is
 lowest in the hemisphere.
 The Clinton administration has quickly welcomed the change, while the
new Bush
 team has been less forthcoming about its position. But the scourge of
drugs is
 nonpartisan and nondiscriminatory. No matter who occupies the White
 the United States should applaud Mr. Aristide's initiative and join
Haiti in this fight.