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From: Stanley Lucas <slucas@iri.org>

MARVELLING: Haiti 2 - Sunday-24-June-2001
by Orlando Marville 
Jean Dominique, about whom I spoke briefly last week, was also outspoken
about one of Aristide's more prominent supporters and now a member of his
senate. The gentleman in question is generally held to be a drug-lord, and
rumour has it that Jean Dominique had prepared a dossier, in which he was
going to denounce this gentleman. Then he was gunned down together with the
watchman, at the gate of the radio station. Still no one knows who did it.
How can we run into this mess of a political situation without taking
account of the fact that opposition figures were killed leading up to the
elections and that Haiti's most prominent journalist was killed for what
everyone assumes was political reasons? It was clear that his death silenced
some who had spoken boldly in the wake of his own forthright statements on
anything concerning Haiti and its poor. 
The question now is: Assuming that the countries of the Hemisphere believe
that Aristide will carry out the promises he made - and that would be a
first - what will be the role of CARICOM? Are we to rush in and plead with
the international donor community to restore the funds to Aristide? It is
now clear that the Organisation of American States (OAS), which, in its
all-too-familiar style, managed to pass a non-resolution on Haiti, will play
that role. 
The Secretary-General is asked in the resolution to report on progress
towards the settling of the political crisis in Haiti. One opposition
speaker, Mr Pierre Charles has denounced the OAS action, claiming that it is
attempting to gain legitimacy for the Aristide fraud in May of last year. It
is clear that one cannot therefore accept any co-operation from convergence.

Several very fundamental problems remain. No one in the opposition would
risk his life by going back to the polls. So how will those opposition
candidates who should have been in the run-offs candidates be persuaded to
Aristide himself recognises that if he makes a call for an independent
electoral council, the opposition will also boycott this, since they know
that whoever they put in place, Aristide's candidate will make it impossible
to conduct business in the council in secrecy or independently. 
The major question arises as to who will fund the elections proposed by Mr
Aristide. It seems unlikely that the United States and Canada, or for that
matter France, the three countries which bore the brunt of the May 2000
elections are going to put any money into the kitty. 
Haiti certainly has no money to run an election. So, even with the best will
in the world, Mr Aristide cannot hold the elections he has promised. Indeed,
this might provide a good excuse in itself for a man who could easily have
held the same elections when they were demanded by all and sundry. Why would
he want to hold them now? Inevitably he will blame the international
community for not assisting and thus making it impossible for him to keep
his promises. 
What then? How does one move from here? It was earlier assumed that Aristide
understood that the international community would cut aid to Haiti if he did
not conduct the mandated second round of the senatorial elections. Yet he
insisted that the senators had been duly elected. It was also assumed that
since the bicentennial anniversary of Haiti's Independence would fall within
his period in office, in 2004, he would have done everything to make Haiti a
showpiece for that occasion. All those assumptions were as false as
believing that Aristide would now be the democrat he was in 1990. 
As I see it, CARICOM, or at least those leaders in CARICOM who are not
overly swayed by their emotions, must put a foot down. If the Hemisphere is
willing to be lured into awaiting the outcome of yet another Aristide
promise, the Community should wait until he once more breaks his word and
indicate in no uncertain terms that the region has some real values, that
the Charter of Civil Society has some meaning and that we will not admit
Haiti into what used to be a club, very particular about who was admitted. 
Please do not forget that Haiti under Duvalier and the Dominican Republic
under Balaguer, as well as Suriname under the army were all refused entry
into CARICOM. It was felt by some of the same people now courting Haiti
under Aristide that the refusal at that time was appropriate. Is it perhaps
that we have lowered our standards? 
How will we justify fully admitting Haiti into CARICOM at the present time,
if we refused to do so under Duvalier? What will be the result of our action
on our reputation within the international community? I am not suggesting
that our actions should first take into consideration the reaction of that
group of nations. 
However, we have had a reputation for a clear interest in human rights and
democratic governance. When we chastised the United States for attacking
Cuba's government on purely political grounds, the great northern neighbour
may not have liked it, but I believe that they understood our principled
stance on that and many other issues. What is our principle here? Is it that
we are so tired of crisis in Haiti that we are prepared to do anything to
put an end to it? How will we be able on our own to bring some economic
prosperity to that country? I doubt that we will be able to persuade the
international donors that they should ease their ban on non-humanitarian aid
to Haiti. 
Without the international players returning to support reform of the
internal economy and improve the human rights situation in that country,
there will be little or no foreign investment, little or nothing for the
country to trade. CARICOM cannot correct this situation. 
Haiti, I am sorry. I begin seriously to believe what I said in jest to a few
of my Haitian friends: we, in CARICOM, love Haiti more than the Haitians
* Orlando Marville is a retired diplomat and an expert on African affairs.