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6843: Nicaragua/Haiti (fwd)
I've just read this book called The Sandino Affair by Neil Macauley. Its
about American foreign policy in Nicaragua back in the twenties and thirties
and parallels present day Haiti. The losing side in these conflicts runs to
the Americans for help and as soon as they get what they need, they get
Nationalistic and renege on their deals OR they become puppet dictators for
twenty, thirty years repressing their people to create a "secure and stable"
environment ("Our son of a bitch").
I drew a few interesting points from the book. The United States'
approach to negotiating a settlement in Haiti after the '94 invasion is the
same approach Secretary Stimson took in Nicaragua almost 75 years ago. Create
two sides (conservatives and liberals) and have an election. Unfortunately,
one of the two sides they chose in Haiti, FRAPH, was a mistake and
discredited initial American attempts at two party democracy. To add fuel to
the fire, Aristide in his fury over not receiving his three years lost
abroad, reneged on all the deals made in exchange for his return to Haiti,
hence aid was denied to the people who actually suffered through the embargo
and three years of military repression.
In Nicaragua, the liberals and conservatives were in accordance with an
election but a third, anti-American guerilla movement was created by Sandino,
who felt Americans shouldn't be involved in the political and military
negotiations at all. Interestingly enough, Sandino stuck to his platform and
as soon as the American troops pulled out he stopped fighting the liberals,
the conservatives and the American businessmen. Sandino was a man of ethics,
who was unfortunately assasinated shortly afterwards.
Aristide, to this day, has had trouble showing himself as a man of
ethics. In 1990 he betrayed the FNCD (hence Evans Paul as an enemy to this
day), and brought tires to the parliament when Preval wasn't going to be
voted in as Prime Minister by the FNCD majority. And after his return he
betrayed Clinton because he wanted the three years he lost while in exile,
and more recently he has decieved the Haitian people by making a mockery of
the Haitian parliament and the election process which so many Haitian people
died to create.
So, though Sandino and Aristide are quite different characters, they
have both managed to capture the imagination of their loyal followings, the
disenfranchised, and they have both created diplomatic nightmares for the