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#3680: Re: US Policy and Elections Background 1 (fwd)
From: kevin pina <email@example.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
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
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
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
Morley and McGillion, "The Clinton Administration and Haiti: 'Disobedient'
Generals and the Politics of Redemocratization," Political Science
Quarterly, Fall 1997.
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