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8391: Searching for Haiti Policy: The Next Ninety Days (fwd)

From: Max Blanchet <maxblanchet@worldnet.att.net>

June 19, 2001

Volume IX, Issue 3
Haiti Alert
Searching for Haiti Policy: The Next Ninety Days
Georges A. Fauriol


A damaging game of attrition characterizes negotiations to resolve Haiti's
political stalemate.
Aristide regime prefers dealing with the international community rather than
its domestic opponents, but this sustains mistrust within Haiti. Civil
society negotiating efforts are a significant new factor.
The democratic political alternative to Aristide's Lavalas has gained ground
in overcoming its credibility deficit but still lacks broad governance focus
and distinctive leadership.
International community is fatigued and fearful of Haiti going off the rails
and therefore eager to reach a deal.
Bush administration does not have its predecessor's personal ties with
Aristide and prefers arms-length relationship. Yet, a distinctive policy
stance and leadership has yet to emerge while the Haitian crisis deepens.
Recent OAS-Caricom mission to Haiti and ensuing General Assembly meeting in
Costa Rica endorsed revised Aristide offer to break political stalemate.
Negative and swift response from broad spectrum of Haiti's democratic
opposition and civil society ensued.
Operational reality of OAS-Caricom deal faces immediate logistical,
financial, and political hurdles. Real intent by Haitian regime is to
trigger renewal of foreign aid flows.
Unity of international community following Costa Rica is uncertain.
Ninety-day outlook is grim.
U.S. Policy Needs
A rancid political and diplomatic stew characterizes the background to the
recent OAS General Assembly meeting held in Costa Rica in early June. A
Haitian proposal, in effect an update of an earlier failed approach to the
OAS in March, faced an international community that was skeptical but one
sensing that something eventually would have to be done. Opinions were
divided as to the credibility of the Haitian plan, negotiated by
Jean-Bertrand Aristide and Luigi Einaudi of the OAS, and the commitments it
implied for its implementation. The United States forcefully lobbied the
case and rallied an otherwise ambivalent assembly.

The heart of the deal involves a schedule of repeat elections for some
senators, shortened terms for the rest of the national legislators, and a
renewed effort to hold this process under the supervision of a reconstituted
election council.

Consideration of the Aristide-Einaudi plan overshadowed the main item on the
menu at the Costa Rica meeting which ensued from the recent Western
Hemisphere summit in Quebec City: the democracy clause. The latter could
define more clearly the political entry ticket for participation in the
process toward hemispheric trade liberalization (FTAA) and the various
socioeconomic objectives associated with it. Democracy is already present in
the body of OAS regional agreements. Refining this further did not happen at
the session in Costa Rica partly due to the difficult atmospherics
surrounding the Haiti proposal. The matter was tabled for the next meeting
in the fall.

The United States' relationship with Haiti needs to break out from the
costly and unproductive policy thrust of the past eight years. The arrival
of the Bush administration should enable Washington to start fresh, yet so
far it has not really done so. The opportunity remains since the new White
House does not have the kind of special relationship with Haiti's political
leadership that the Clinton administration had. The United States has a long
history of association with Haitian affairs and Washington's interests are
worth reviewing:

Foster modern governance through a democratically competitive political
environment and a diverse civil society, accompanied by an active private
enterprise, and a liberalized and transparent trade and investment flow
Eliminate regional contraband and illicit business flows, and reduce Haiti's
attraction as a platform for money laundering and narcotics transshipment;
Acknowledge Haiti's actors who appear to undermine the above interests, and
isolate them from U.S. moral, diplomatic, and economic support; and
Diversify more deeply formal and informal interaction by the U.S. Government
and the international community across the Haitian political and economic
spectrum, including those constituencies outside the capital city.
Policy prescriptions
1. The international community
Resource support and diplomatic commitment cannot be considered until the
Haitian regime works out a real political arrangement with the various
elements of the democratic alternative and key groups representing civil
society. This perennial problem has resulted in Haitian promises not being
followed by credible results. In the present climate of distrust among the
competing Haitian players the need to achieve a more credible Haitian
negotiating process is an even more pressing priority.

In this regard the recent Aristide-Einaudi negotiations seemed to conclude
by keeping the democratic opposition at arms length and taking the civil
society negotiators half-heartedly. The next round of negotiations cannot
commit this elementary and arrogant error. A significant degree of
mobilization now exists among the senior Catholic, Protestant, and
evangelical church leadership, along with a durable negotiating coalition
drawn from other segments of Haiti's urban society. Lavalas leadership may
find these groups an inconvenience but the United States should not play
into that dangerous game. A political community without those actors is not
a competitive democratic environment.

2. Haitian political negotiations
Several items are on the table but any solution needs to abide by the
principle of a package deal or nothing:

Reconstitution of a credible CEP: The political constituency formula to
create a CEP over which Haitians are arguing may be eased if, as in many
other countries, the election council was headed by someone of genuine
distinction-an individual with unblemished technical credentials, political
standing above the fray, credibility with the international community; and
management and organizational skills to run the show.

A second consideration relates to the attitude of the regime's leadership.
Lavalas and its senior leadership have a tendency to assume that the CEP
process is their game, another mechanism in a winner-take-all strategy. The
result was all too apparent last year when the CEP president and
distinguished elder jurist, Leon Manus, refused to certify bogus results and
under death threats was forced into political exile in the United States.
International criticism was muted. If Washington hopes to achieve results,
it will have to ensure that this does not happen again. If it is serious, it
might even suggest that Manus would be an acceptable candidate to head the
new CEP.

Partial repeat of senate elections: As time passes, this may end up being a
symbolic victory. Many have forgotten that an earlier Haitian proposal
endorsed by the democratic opposition and civil society groups had been to
repeat all elections (local, municipal, and parliamentary) in 2002 in
exchange for recognizing the legitimacy of Aristide's presidency. Why the
OAS-Caricom accepted less several months later and packaged it in a
complicated electoral calendar is troubling.

The core of the deal entails the resignation of seven senators involved in
suspect elections in 2000, as well as the scheduling of legislative
(Assembly and Senate) elections next year and 2003. This presumes a viable
CEP as well as electoral security. The Aristide-Einaudi deal does not
address the security issue directly, although it promotes the notion of an
OAS mission to encourage an open-ended Haitian political dialogue toward
democratization. The OAS is hopelessly ill-equipped to provide the requisite
buffer against the political intimidation and violence that have
characterized Haitian elections. Its track-record in this area throughout
the 1990s was poor and the mission had to be adjudicated to the United
Nations, and ultimately U.S. political leadership.

A defining character to this process would be for Haitian authorities to
provide moral and political leadership, as opposed to the threatening
agitation of populist rhetoric. One example would be for them to
acknowledgement in some form the uncertainties surrounding the November 2000
presidential contest. Likewise, Lavalas leadership should join in a multiple
condemnation of the climate of intimidation and the deteriorating human
rights environment since Feb. 7, 2001. The United States should not abstain
from expressing its strong views in this area, repeatedly and at the most
senior level of the Bush administration.

3. U.S. strategy
No political support or economic and diplomatic resources unless there is a
wider and transparent compromise among the key actors in the political
Replace the continuing U.S. reluctance to reach out to Haiti's political
alternatives and civil society with a U.S. policy that engages and
strengthens Haiti's true supporters of democracy and freedom.
Revitalize a strategy of an international coalition framed by these more
durable U.S. policy principles. This includes sustaining a purposeful
engagement through the OAS, but multilateralism without clear U.S. strategic
leadership is unlikely to be successful in Haiti. The United States may want
to keep policy on Haiti at arms length but sooner or later the White House
either will be asked to support and enforce Haiti policy solutions not
entirely of its own making, or will be held accountable for their failures.
Related Policy Elements
1. Haiti policy should not be driven and defined by one Haitian personality,
a characteristic of U.S. engagement for the past decade. Jean-Bertrand
Aristide is a remarkable and principal national figure. However, sound U.S.
policymaking does not have to be totally anchored to one policy option and
the political fortunes of one leader. Recent U.S. experiences with Russia,
Indonesia, Zaire and Congo, and even Mexico are varied reminders.

2. The United States should be viewed as working with the underdog, the
weak, the entrepreneurial, and Haiti's regional and local leadership, not
the representatives of a corrupt new elite (the "CNE's") occupying positions
of power in government and the influence peddlers that flow from it. This
represents a real barrier to any significant resumption of international
assistance, let alone U.S. aid. Haiti's government finances are a mess and
one way to clear the air is to force some of this into the open before
further international funding comes forth.

A small Haiti International Development Commission (HIDC), sanctioned by
Haiti's five largest aid donors, led by nongovernmental free-market
development and democratic governance expertise, and funded with foundation
support, could work through the underbrush of a few key development
initiatives and begin to coordinate their implementation. The HIDC could
also be a point of contact for the multitude of individual private voluntary
organizations (PVOs) operating in Haiti, and as well as a possible avenue
for Haiti's growing diaspora.

3. The U.S. mission in Haiti has been faithfully fulfilling its role under
difficult circumstances. Along with the USAID (U.S. Agency for International
Development) mission, a substantial renovation might be considered to
reflect a new form of disciplined engagement on the part of Washington.

Negotiating Attrition
Months of fruitless discussions between the international community and
various actors in Haiti's political stalemate came to a head in early June
with the Organization of American States General Assembly meeting in Costa
Rica. The offer extracted from Haiti may be narrowly hopeful but the
atmospherics are troublesome. Jean-Bertrand Aristide and his regime appear
reluctant sponsors of their own proposal, let alone a democratic process.
The international community's attitude toward Haiti is variously fatigued
and accommodating-not a good combination.

The shuttle diplomacy of the OAS-Caribbean Community [Caricom] team did not
win over the confidence of the Aristide regime's political opponents, and
was only marginally more successful regarding civil society intermediaries
(led by church and business groups). In the end, surprisingly, the
disjointed but gutsy political opposition and some of its civil society
allies were blamed for sustaining a political stalemate originally triggered
by the Lavalas political constituency now in power. This is a strange turn
of events and says volumes of the international community's commitment to

It also underscores Aristide's remarkable stamina with Washington's
rudderless Haiti policy and exploitation of this environment as the
situation is no more resolved now than it was a month ago. To insure success
Aristide's U.S.-based lobbying is going through some transformation,
including a hire from among Washington's lead law firms, Patton Boggs. The
shift toward a democratic majority in the U.S. Senate also diminishes
somewhat the perceived early sting of a Republican administration. In the
interim, the latter has yet to assemble its own Latin American/Caribbean
policy leadership, adding further credence to the notion that current Haiti
policy is shaped by a framework inherited from the Clinton White House.

The outlines of the OAS-Caricom deal includes three significant operational
parts: the reconstitution of an electoral council (CEP) with credibility for
all political participants, the resignation of roughly a third of the Senate
due to disputed vote counts, and the scheduling of legislative (Assembly and
Senate) elections for next year and 2003. Also suggested is the
establishment of an OAS-Caricom mission in Haiti to provide sustenance to
these tasks.

Can and will the interested parties follow up on these proposals? The deal
poses a challenge and potential political turbulence for the Lavalas regime
in the short run. There may be a price to pay to force Lavalas senators to
resign early. But a tactical retreat now may break down the opposition's
sense of purpose and insures international sympathy for Haiti's dire
economic needs.

For the opposition the challenge is to regroup either to insure the success
of the Costa Rica agreement without losing their collective political shirts
or to provide an as yet unspecified alternative. There is also the so-called
"zero option," which entails sitting on your hands and waiting out the
presumed self-destruction of Aristide's political apparatus.

The key actor here is the Convergence Democratique, a somewhat eclectic
coalition of parties (including former Aristide ally, Gerard Pierre
Charles-OPL, the MOCRHRENA-representing a growing protestant/evangelical
constituency, perennial pretenders to national office such as Leslie
Manigat's RDNP, and also Hubert Deronceray, and sub-coalitions-Espace).
Standing off to the side is also the opposition's not entirely satisfying
political creation of an alternate president to Aristide, old-line prominent
human rights advocate, Gerard Gourgue. While able to oppose the Costa Rica
deal, this political apparatus will also quickly need to hit back with
counterproposals of its own.

For Haiti's civil society and the mediating role it has attempted to play in
recent months, the future is uncertain but critical. With its back to the
wall, whom does it trust and how can it capitalize on its own residual
credibility? In the short run civil society's more durable actors
(particularly the Initiative de la Societe Civile-ISC) will likely focus on
providing some political transparency to the reconstitution of the CEP.
Their role is not as trivial as some in the international community would
make it out to be. While private sector groups have become increasingly
squeezed economically, the constituency to watch comes from church

For the international community, and the United States in particular, the
short-run challenge is the implementation, enforcement, and verification of
what is at this stage a rather tenuous arrangement. Washington is perceived,
correctly, as a key actor behind the OAS/Caricom deal, and the United States
will probably draw in a reluctant UN endorsement at the level of the
secretary general. Beyond that enthusiasm is limited. Two indicators of
international community response will appear fairly quickly. One relates to
the notion that a CEP can be pulled together by June 25. This is highly
unlikely and suggests a rush job that can only benefit Aristide. A second
indicator relates to the international community's level of response to the
need for some form of electoral security apparatus. Without adequate
security, the political response to the electoral calendar will grind to a

All of these proposals are anchored by two strategic assumptions weighted
down by almost fatal uncertainties. First, the OAS/Caricom Haiti agreement
requires that several elections be held in quick succession in a country
whose recent electoral record is so dismal that it is at the heart of the
current stalemate. Political intimidation and electoral insecurity will not
be overcome simply with technical assistance-it requires a change in
attitude among Haiti's political leadership and most notably that associated
with the levers of the current government.

Second, with Haiti's legal economy evaporating day-by-day and government
finances dysfunctional, the real negotiating driver for the Haitian regime
has been to trigger international economic assistance and broader business
investment. Whether Washington and other key capitals have the policy
fortitude to require verification and real political progress before
significant disbursements is uncertain. Without that, the more likely
scenario is that foreign resources designed to reconstruct Haiti's bankrupt
electoral process will end up being props for a brittle regime.

Easy money in the short run may be channeled through the Inter-Development
Bank and to a degree the World Bank although those sources are far from
unanimous in their thinking about Haiti. Key European governments and the
European Union represent another source but they have since last year
represented a fairly hard line on Haiti policy-more hard-nosed than
Washington and in some cases more directly tied to Aristide's opponents.
None of the above does much in the short term for Haiti's modern business
community whose base has been shrinking dramatically in the past year but
whose more socially-conscious political profile has also increased.

All of this represents a policy trap, with the opening argument being that
Haiti needs money to accomplish what the international community is
demanding of it. For its part the international community would love to find
a way to wash its hands of the Haiti problem.

A more credible response is likely to be a gradual approach, in which only
good deeds are rewarded. Lack of action or deviation from the agreement
would actually trigger reconsideration of the OAS/Caricom framework by
Washington and the international community. If nothing else, the U.S.
Congress will require verification before a dime is spent. Capitol Hill has
in place several certification requirements linked to the holding of free
and fair elections, human rights violations and unresolved political crimes,
and cooperation against drug trafficking before there can be a resumption of
aid flowing from the U.S. government.

Continuing threats to Haiti's civil society and political opposition
leadership suggest that these various restrictions will not be easily
lifted. Arguably, the environment in Haiti in the past year has dramatically
deteriorated. This includes the intimidating and unstable populist character
of Lavalas, whose amorphous popular base can be manipulated so easily by
Aristide but might also spin out of control.

Also disconcerting are the machinations surrounding high-profile murder
cases (most notably media figure, Jean Dominique). There is also the
arbitrary nature of the police and uses of arrest warrants, (most recently
involving such diverse cases as Jean Gabriel Fortune, a member of the
opposition Democratic Convergence, and the former military chief in the late
1980s, Prosper Avril). Troubling is the public theatre involving aspiring
senators and senior associates of the Lavalas movement (such as Dany
Toussaint) and the murky political and financial relationships-and rumors
that frame much of what happens around the presidential palace in
Port-au-Prince (such as the role of senior Lavalas don, Yvon Neptune, and
others). This environment embodies many dynamics of Haiti's past rather than
the basis for a democratic future-let alone socioeconomic well-being for the
majority of Haitians. A worrisome indicator in this regard is the increasing
momentum in the exodus of Haiti's remaining professional and managerial
class, not to mention young people with skills.

A sad commentary on the entire Haitian political leadership is that so soon
after the 1994 intervention that restored Aristide to office could a unique
opportunity to instill a modicum of social order and economic development
coherence be wasted away. To be blunt, many in that leadership appear to
have forgotten the remarkable good will and resource base expended by the
international community on behalf of Haiti's livelihood-existence,
really-half a decade ago. Washington and its partners in the international
community in this unhappy enterprise are most singularly united in their
frustrations over Haiti policy. The same cannot be said about having any
consensus on what to do about it.

Haiti's troubles have a regional character to them and, as such,
Washington's interests are ultimately never too far. In other words, U.S.
management of policy toward Haiti cannot be totally devolved to others in
the multilateral community. The dynamics of the recent OAS meeting Costa
Rica allude to less than unanimous initial support for the Haiti proposals.
The United States and senior OAS leadership mostly framed these proposals,
with supporting roles from Caribbean countries. This is potentially a step
backward from the relative unity of opinion across Haiti's international
interlocutors that had existed in the previous 12 months. In policy on
Haiti, perceptions may not be accurate but they are influential and for
now-despite a presidential change in the White House-U.S. policy remains
married to Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

The Ten-year Crisis
Arguably, Haiti's political crisis since the late 1980s has never moved much
beyond the starting gate of elections. Qualitatively, the latter have
deteriorated despite manifold efforts by patient Haitian voters and the
technical support of the international community to draw out coherent
governance from these exercises. If Jean-Bertrand Aristide has been one
constant in this unrewarding effort, the mixed quality of his political
opponents has been the other. His early opponents, the Haitian armed forces,
were both violent and hopeless at the job of governance. Haiti's civilian
non-Lavalas political constituencies have by and large not been stellar
winners either. While often courageous and principled, this diverse
community has been most notably deficient in its ability to coalesce from
individual positions of weakness into coalitions of strength.

Haiti's governing sociopolitical paradigm remains the past with no viable
vision of the future. The incumbent in the presidential palace, remarkable
man that he is, and the populist mantra that is the heart of his Lavalas
movement, are characteristically traditional. Lavalas has in fact become
more of a personality cult and as such is devoid of any instincts toward
modern societal institution building. As a political movement it has
continuously reinvented itself in the past decade, shedding competing allies
along the way and creating new opponents. This environment highlights
personal charisma over the rule of law and yields almost no leadership
accountability. To make matters worse, Haiti's current governing structure
is by all accounts penetrated by corruption-political and moral-and
criminality. To characterize all of this as a functioning government is
therefore charitable.

Yet, in wake of the messy elections in May 2000 this has begun to change. Th
e multiple elements of the non-Lavalas community merged at least to sustain
the Convergence Democratique as a tactical negotiating instrument. The
opposition has stacked out much stronger unified positions and unspecified
popular support than most observers expected. In practice, this political
alternative has stung Aristide's return to office, paralyzing the expected
populist cakewalk. The resulting stalemate has had a detrimental affect on
an already dysfunctional society, with the best and brightest, the desperate
as well as the more entrepreneurial, leaving on an airplane or by leaky

Last year's electoral process was marred, first in the spring, by an
intimidating pre-election environment and post-election counting fraud for
the parliamentary contest. Then in November presidential contest was a fraud
of a different kind. The problem turned out to be not so much that the
opposition boycotted the event but that few Haitians bothered to vote-maybe
10 percent of the eligible voters participation rate, but no one knows for
sure. Actually, since the fall of the Duvalier regime in 1986 no Haitian
election (including those that brought Aristide to office in December 1990)
has generated final consolidated and verifiable results. This is very
symptomatic of the real nature of Haiti's problems and the challenge facing
decisionmakers in Port-au-Prince and abroad. The depth of crises in 2001 is
deepened not so much by the mismanagement and political miscalculation of
the past twelve months but the cumulative effect of a decade-long pattern of
abominable governance.

Despite the absence of international support, in November 2000 the
presidential contest was held nonetheless and brought Aristide back to
office in a sea of controversy and a desert of credibility. What has ensued
is a strategy of attrition, with Aristide hoping to avoid having to face his
domestic political opponents while bargaining a deal with the international
community. The latter has by and large forced him to face his home front,
but a viable domestic dialogue has developed little traction in
circumstances shaped by the cumulative crises noted above. Mistrust is deep
and this has strategic implications for the international community.

Remarkably, the current crisis has brought out a renewed societal effort,
with various elements of civil society, churches, and the private sector
attempting to mediate alternating versions of compromise political outcomes.
The most durable of these groups is the Initiative de la Societe Civile
(ISC), which has found itself repeatedly squeezed between unproductive
Haitian political dialogues and an international community taking its
efforts only half-seriously.

Sadly, all of this has generated not only limited results but also
increasing distrust. The mediating role of the OAS and Caricom, and now
indirectly, the United States, although admirably led and initially
conceptualized, has itself come under suspicion for promoting a solution
that is at minimum operationally unworkable. The ISC's critique of the Costa
Rica agreement also highlights the opaque nature of the final stages of the
negotiations by the senior OAS envoy (Ambassador Luigi Einaudi, assistant
secretary general, and an American) and Haitian authorities, leading to
cries of foul play by much of Haiti's non-Lavalas community. This could have
been avoided.


About the Author
Georges A. Fauriol serves as director of the Americas Program at the Center
for Strategic and International Studies. In this capacity he is the senior
scholar specializing in Western Hemisphere issues.

He is the co-chair of the Americas Forum, a Washington network of
hemispheric policy professionals. From 1992 to 2000, he was also the Mexico
Seminar Course Chair at the U.S. Department of State's Foreign Service
Institute. Prior to joining CSIS, Dr. Fauriol held staff and research
positions with the Foreign Policy Research Institute, the U.S. Information
Agency, and the Inter-American Development Bank. He is frequently called
upon as a consultant to government agencies and has testified before Senate
and House subcommittees eighteen times. Dr. Fauriol is also the author or
co-author of numerous books, including: Guatemala's Political Puzzle
(Transaction Books, 1988); The Third Century: U.S.-Latin American Policy
Choices in the 1990s (CSIS, 1988); Cuba, The International Dimension
(Transaction Books, 1990); Haitian Frustrations (CSIS, 1995); and Fast
Forward: Latin America on the Edge of the Twenty-first Century (Transaction
Books, 1997, 1999). His articles have appeared in such publications as The
Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Christian Science
Monitor, Orbis, and Foreign Affairs. He received his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees
from the University of Pennsylvania, and his B.A. from Ohio University.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies
Established in 1962, CSIS is a private, tax-exempt institution focusing on
international public policy issues. Its research is nonpartisan and

CSIS does not take specific public policy positions. Accordingly, all views,
positions, and conclusions expressed in this publication should be
understood to be solely those of the author.

This study was prepared under the aegis of the CSIS Hemisphere Focus series.
Comments are welcome and should be directed to:

CSIS Americas Program . 1800 K Street, N.W. . Washington, DC 20006 .