[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]
# 1254: This Week in Haiti 17:37 12/1/99 (fwd)
"This Week in Haiti" is the English section of HAITI PROGRES
newsweekly. For information on other news in French and Creole,
please contact the paper at (tel) 718-434-8100, (fax)
718-434-5551 or e-mail at <email@example.com>.
Also visit our website at <www.haiti-progres.com>.
"Le journal qui offre une alternative"
* THIS WEEK IN HAITI *
December 1-7, 1999
Vol. 17, No. 37
A UN-ILATERAL EXTENSION
What a joke. In November 1997, U.N. and Haitian government
officials made stern assurances that U.N. troops would be
deployed in Haiti for only one more year. They made the exact
same assurances, even more vigorously, in November 1998. Now,
once again, less than 12 hours before the expiration of the U.N.
troop mandate on Nov. 30, the U.N. Security Council has voted to
extend the U.N. Civilian Police Mission in Haiti (MIPONUH) for
another three and a half months.
But this year, there is one important difference. The Security
Council acted unilaterally, without a formal request for
extension from the Haitian government. Indeed, President René
Préval stated less than two weeks ago on Nov. 19 that "the
MIPONUH will end at the end of the month" and said he had asked
the U.N. for "technical assistance" from technicians who would be
"without arms or uniforms."
Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis was suffering from the same
misconception that the 300 soldiers of the MIPONUH were going
home. "Thus, for your government, there is no possibility of
renewing the mandate of the MIPONUH (...) again?" Alexis was
asked by a Radio Haiti reporter just days ago. "There is no
chance the mandate will be renewed," Alexis replied.
But, of course, he was wrong, because the United States does what
it wants with the U.N. Security Council, despite its continuing
non-payment of about $2 billion in back dues to the financially-
strapped world body.
Last week reports began to leak out that the U.S. and Canada were
concocting a behind-closed-doors deal in the Security Council to
extend the MIPONUH's mandate until March 15, 2000. Not
coincidentally, this is only four days before the first round of
national elections now scheduled for March 19, 2000. It is clear
that the U.S. does not want to leave its Haitian "children" alone
to carry out an election without some armed supervision.
Especially when those children might make the wrong choice and
vote for partisans and allies of former President Jean Bertrand
Aristide, whom Washington would like to weaken (the Democrats) or
block altogether (the Republicans) when he seeks reelection in
November 2000. U.S. ruling circles are uncomfortable, at the very
least, with the criticisms of neoliberalism which Aristide has
made in recent years.
Resolution 1277 states that the Security Council "decides to
continue MIPONUH in order to ensure a phased transition to an
International Civilian Mission for Support in Haiti (MICAH) by 15
March 2000." Amazingly, the Security Council is talking about a
phased transition to a new mission which has not even been
approved by the General Assembly. The MICAH will supposedly be an
"unarmed and non-uniformed"mission which will integrate judicial
reform, human rights and police training, and development
programs. Only later this week will it be proposed to the General
Perhaps the U.S. presumes that it can bully and bribe the 188-
member nations in the Assembly in the same way it manipulates the
15-member Security Council. But perhaps it will not be as easy.
Many nations are fed up with the U.S. selectively and selfishly
using the U.N. for its foreign policy goals, especially when it
Fourteen nations voted "yes" for Security Council Resolution 1277
but there was one abstention. Russia was scandalized that the
Security Council could vote for an extension of the MIPONUH when
Haiti had made no formal request for it.
Indeed, even the generally staid U.N. press corps was aware that
something was amiss. In a Nov. 29 press briefing, one journalist
asked the Secretary-General's spokesman Fred Eckhard if MIPONUH
was different from the mission "without arms and without
uniforms" requested by President René Préval in a Nov. 8 letter
to Secretary-General Kofi Annan. "My understanding is that what
is being considered by the Council and the Assembly now has the
support of President Preval," Eckhard responded. Not exactly a
Another question: to what extent is the unilateral extension an
expression of distrust of Préval? In the past two weeks, the
Haitian president has started to talk the talk of his predecessor
and would-be successor, Aristide. On Dec. 19, Préval attended the
inauguration of the Jean Marie Vincent high school in Caradeux
along with Aristide, and called on the Haitian people to elect on
March 19 "a Lavalas parliament, Lavalas mayors, Lavalas regional
councils, for the Lavalas to continue to sweep the upcoming
elections." This was the first time since his inauguration in
February 1996 that Préval had explicitly and formally allied
himself with Aristide and his party, the Fanmi Lavalas.
Préval then criticized the evils of globalization and "the gap
between rich and poor countries which is continuing to grow each
day, and if we don't watch out, the rich in Haiti will always get
richer and the poor will always get poorer." He blamed French
colonialism for Haiti's present-day poverty saying that "they
used to call Haiti the Pearl of the Antilles because it was the
richest country, but now it is the poorest and that is in large
part due to colonization."
Then on his Nov. 27 return from the second summit of the nations
of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific in Santo Domingo, Préval
declared that the European countries had "to recognize the
unfavorable treatment which history has given today's
underdeveloped countries and the preferential treatment history
has given them, and accept to correct history." With respect to
Haiti's foreign debt, which Préval has tried unsuccessfully to
double from about $1 billion to over $2 billion, he declared
"they owe us, we don't owe them." He said that "those countries
which have accumulated such riches for decades off our backs, now
they have to clearly say that they will correct history so as to
put all nations on an equal footing."
Granted, all of this sounds rather naive. And it's just words.
During his administration Préval has pursued a neoliberal policy
which has ensured, more than any other period in Haitian history,
that "the rich have gotten richer and the poor poorer."
Nonetheless, in this unipolar age, Washington is very intolerant
of any nationalist or anti-imperialist rhetoric, even if
The displeasure of Washington with Préval for his "nationalist"
posturing alongside Aristide can be measured by the acerbic tone
of mainstream press articles. Don Bohning in the Nov. 29 Miami
Herald, one of the most reactionary U.S. dailies, called Préval's
"a de facto government." Most of Bohning's scorn is aimed at
Aristide, however, who he paints as "a politician plotting his
return to the presidency in 2001 from a walled compound near the
Meanwhile, the New York Times turned to Colin Granderson, head of
the International Civilian Mission in Haiti (MICIVIH) in a Nov.
26 article. He has abandoned his previous prudent neutrality,
perhaps because the MICIVIH appears to be packing its bags on
Dec. 31. "There is a lot of concern about what is happening with
the police and if they are going to be destabilized or fall into
the clutches of Aristide," Granderson was quoted as saying. "1999
has been a bad year," he told the Nov. 15 Los Angeles Times. "It
all started off with the disastrous decision of the president to
dissolve Parliament, and basically it has been downhill from
there." Disastrous decision? The Parliament expired as stipulated
by law. Parliamentarians had even signed a vow that they would
step down on Jan. 11, 1999. The overwhelming majority of the
Haitian people supported Préval's move. Why was that
Ironically, Préval today resembles, in a curious way, Russian
President Boris Yeltsin, his one "ally" in the Nov. 30 Security
Council vote. After collaborating with the U.S. to dismantle the
Soviet Union and following their economic formulae which have
turned Russia from a super-power into an junk heap, the Russian
president is now finding no gratitude from Washington. Instead,
the U.S. is walking right over him to gain control of the oil-
rich Caspian Sea region, where the Chechnyan war is raging. As a
Nov. 20 New York Times headline announced: "U.S. Seeks to End
Russian Domination of the Caspian."
"The U.S. strategy toward Russia is aimed at weakening its
international position and ousting it from strategically
important regions of the world, above all the Caspian region, the
Trans Caucasus and Central Asia," complained Yeltsin's Defense
Minister Igor Sergeyev at a Nov. 12 press conference. Yeltsin and
Sergeyev are surprised that the U.S. doesn't want to help build
Russia. It wants a "permanent smoldering of a manageable armed
conflict [resulting] in a weakened Russia that will help the U.S.
obtain full control over the Northern Caucasus."
Is this duplicitous approach of the U.S. any different in Haiti,
where it harbors in Washington 160,000 pages of Haiti's
documents, sends back hundreds of hardened criminals to
contribute to the insecurity, continues to give refuge in Queens,
NY to the death-squad leader "Toto" Constant and underwrite his
organization, the FRAPH, in Haiti, and, now unilaterally
orchestrates the extension of the U.N. military occupation?
Perhaps Préval deserves to be steamrolled by the masters he has
served so faithfully for the past three years. It's the Haitian
people who deserve better.
All articles copyrighted Haiti Progres, Inc. REPRINTS ENCOURAGED.
Please credit Haiti Progres.