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#3680: Re: US Policy and Elections Background 1 (fwd)

From: kevin pina <cariborganics@hotmail.com>

As elections approach in Haiti I think it is important to reflect upon the 
various aspects and history of US foreign policy regarding 
"democratization".  I invite an open sharing of resources and views on this 
important topic.

Democratic Restoration and the Preservation of the Haitian State

     Phone: (212) 870-2500
     Fax: (212) 870-2202
     Adam Korengold Public Affairs Coordinator, Academy of Political      
    E-mail: psquak@aol.com

During the Bush and Clinton administrations, as it has for the length of 
postwar Latin American history, U.S. foreign policy has focused on the 
maintenance of state structures, particularly the military, which serve to 
protect U.S. interests regardless of the particular regime governing the 
state at any one time.

This concern with preserving existing state institutions has often led to 
varying levels of American tolerance for autocratic or democratic regimes in 
Latin America. As Morris Morley and Chris McGillion write in "The Clinton 
Administration and Haiti: 'Disobedient' Generals and the Politics of 
Redemocratization," forthcoming in the Fall 1997 edition of Political 
Science Quarterly, American foreign policy towards Haiti endeavored to 
maintain existing state institutions that would sustain US interests in 
Haiti in lieu of focusing on building democratic institutions.

Morris Morley is Associate Professor of Politics at Macquarie University in 
Sydney, Australia and Chris McGillion is an Australian journalist working on 
issues of inter-American politics. Published since 1886 by the Academy of 
Political Science, Political Science Quarterly is the oldest and most widely 
read political science journal in the United States.

President Bush and the ouster of Aristide

When in 1990 Jean-Bertrand Aristide ascended to the presidency, he received 
67 percent of the vote. He had campaigned on a populist, redistributionist 
platform of empowering the peasantry and reforming institutions including 
the armed forces, which antagonized Haiti's well-entrenched economic elite 
and military establishment. In September of the next year, he was ousted by 
a military coup, which the United States initially condemned. Washington 
then redirected its policy towards developing an arrangement by which 
Aristide would share power with the ruling junta. By the spring of 1992, the 
White House was encouraging Aristide to negotiate with the junta's appointed 
Prime Minister.

Clinton's initial policy

While he had strongly denounced Bush's Haiti policy during the 1992 
presidential campaign, President Clinton, anticipating an influx of some 
200,000 refugees, reversed his position and maintained Bush's immigration 
policy. The new administration temporarily retained Bush's chief Haiti 
adviser Bernard Aronson and declined to take a strong stand on the 
atrocities committed by Cedras and his colleagues.
However, having stepped back on the refugee question, the Clinton 
administration increased its efforts to restore Aristide while ratcheting up 
the sanctions instituted against Port-au-Prince.

At the same time, Washington allowed the ruling junta, which it envisioned 
as the practical guarantor of security in Haiti, to retain some control of 
state security institutions. These efforts resulted in the agreement signed 
at Governors Island, New York in July 1993, which laid out a 
redemocratization process for Haiti to culminate in Aristide's own 
restoration at the end of October. Nonetheless, the junta never met the 
conditions specified in the agreement to allow the return of Aristide. The 
Clinton administration continued to press Aristide to accept power-sharing 
arrangements with the junta, which he understandably refused.

Meanwhile, the CIA, and the Administration as a whole, continued to feed 
rumors doubting Aristide's sanity while refusing to exploit the link between 
the junta and drug dealing activities to precipitate their stepping down. 
These approaches were premised, thus, not so much on the restoration of 
democratic institutions as upon the preservation of institutions, however 
repressive or illegitimate they might be, that would serve U.S. interests.

Clinton's endgame in Haiti

By mid-1994, the Clinton administration decided that the time for the 
junta's departure had arrived and increased pressure upon the junta by 
tightening UN-imposed sanctions while easing immigration policy. At the same 
time, the American administration worked to make Aristide's leadership more 
palatable by tempering his populism and remaking his economic policies to 
conform to U.S. Agency for International Development and International 
Monetary Fund guidelines for receiving American assistance. Just as 
Washington's patience began to expire, former President Carter offered the 
generals a graceful way out during a mission whose ostensible mission was to 
prepare the junta for an American invasion. This final turn of events 
ensured a successful conclusion to the crisis for Clinton, but a diminished 
base for Aristide himself to govern Haiti.


In the years between Jean-Bertrand Aristide's ouster and the deposition of 
the succeeding military junta, the Bush and Clinton administrations sought 
to maintain Haiti's state institutions, rather than re-establishing 
democracy. As the junta became more and more intolerable, however, U.S. 
policy shifted and eventually restored Aristide. In the Haiti of today, 
however, the institutions valued by Washington but feared by Port-au-Prince 
are destabilizing the country, rendering it vulnerable to the same 
instabilities and inequities that gave rise to the election of Aristide.

"U.S. policy makers have interpreted a change from dictatorship to 
democratic regime, first and foremost, as a mechanism for preserving the 
state, not as a mode of promoting democratization and the values that 
accompany it."

Morley and McGillion, "The Clinton Administration and Haiti: 'Disobedient' 
Generals and the Politics of Redemocratization," Political Science 
Quarterly, Fall 1997.

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