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8580: U.S. OWES ARISTIDE A FAIR CHANCE TO GOVERN (fwd)
This article from last week's Boston Globe obviously provoked an angry
response as seen in yesterday's Wall Street Journal!
The Boston Globe
June 30, 2001, Saturday
HEADLINE: PAUL FARMER, JOSEPH P. KENNEDY II, AND JEFFREY SACHS Paul Farmer
teaches at Harvard Medical School and runs a small hospital in rural Haiti;
Joseph P. Kennedy II is chairman of Citizens Energy Corp. in Boston;
Jeffrey Sachs directs Harvard University's Center for International
US OWES ARISTIDE A FAIR CHANCE TO GOVERN
BYLINE: By Paul Farmer, Joseph P. Kennedy II and Jeffrey Sachs
THE IMAGES OF HAITI FAMILIAR TO MOST AMERICANS SUGGEST A COUNTRY LOCKED IN
A HOPELESS STRUGGLE AGAINST POLITICAL OPPRESSION AND ECONOMIC DESPAIR.
But there is another Haiti. It has a deeply religious and hard-working
population, hungry for education and opportunity, struggling to feed their
families and make a better way of life for their children. There is the
political promise of successive democratically elected governments that aim
to replace poverty and chaos with stability and growth.
Haiti is at a critical juncture in its struggle to emerge from poverty and
oppression. Massive investments in health care, education, roads and
bridges, ports and telecommunications are needed to bring economic hope to
the country and ensure that democracy takes hold.
Significant amounts of international aid have been appropriated to
address these needs but are being withheld until President Jean-Bertrand
Aristide, reelected last December, demonstrates the country's commitment to
democracy. There is no problem with forcing any aid recipient to prove its
democratic bona fides. However, there is a Catch-22 built into the approval
process: The donor countries, including the United States, have insisted
that Aristide reach agreement with a bitter and unrepresentative political
opposition before any funds are released.
As a result, a vocal minority of obstructionists possess veto power over
the future of Haiti, turning political and economic failure into
The issue of dispute involves seven Senate seats won by members of
Aristide's party in the May 2000 parliamentary elections. Though the
balloting was deemed fair, tabulators counted only the top four finishers
in each race and awarded victory outright to Aristide's supporters.
International observers criticized the counting method, pointing out that
had all the votes been counted, none of the declared winners would have
garnered more than the 50 percent of the vote needed to avoid a runoff.
The senators from the disputed districts recently resigned their seats,
clearing the way for a new round of balloting. But the opposition has
rejected the scheduling of runoff elections. Moreover, it has rejected a
plan accepted by the Organization of American States to hold a new round of
balloting for all the parliamentarians elected in May 2000 and ignored a
June 25 OAS deadline to participate in a new electoral council to oversee
Meanwhile, Aristide's foes demand international recognition of the
coalition leader they farcically declared their "president" in February
while insisting that Aristide step down, shorten his five-year term, or
agree to a power-sharing arrangement.
The impasse is an attempt to push Aristide into a sort of internal
political exile, with dire consequences for the people of Haiti.
As for the United States, no direct aid can be made to the central
government until the administration signs off on the parliamentary
elections and certifies the Haitian government's cooperation in fighting
Aristide's commitment to address both issues was signaled in a covenant
signed last December with the Clinton administration and subsequently
endorsed by President Bush.
Bush's endorsement of the pact and his choice of Colin Powell, who
negotiated the return of democracy to Haiti in 1994, as his secretary of
state augur a more positive US role in Haiti.
Recently, Bush granted Haiti a national security waiver in its process of
certifying nations as cooperating with the United States in the
international war on drugs. The administration concluded that
decertification, with its denial of assistance, would only make the problem
worse, driving Haitians into the drug economy. The same logic should surely
apply to the unblocking of the international aid pipeline in order to build
a new Haiti.
If the opposition fails to bargain in good faith, Bush and Powell should
endorse the new electoral council, accept the results of new elections,
move ahead with cooperative drug-fighting measures, and, most important,
lift the US hold on aid and urge other nations and multilateral aid
agencies to follow their lead.
Economic progress with equity is possible in Haiti only if the free world
takes the side of justice in the dispute. Aristide, driven from Haiti by
the 1991 coup, was denied his right to govern. It is equally unacceptable
in 2001 that the reelected president, living in his own country among the
people who elected him, is denied his right to govern by an