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9195: Oct. 3 Miami Herald Editorial: HOPE FOR HAITI, A ROLE FOR , INTERNATIONAL FRIENDS (fwd)

From: Antoine Blanc <amprblanc@yahoo.fr>

Miami Herald Editorial Published Wednesday, October 3, 2001
Haiti's government should show that it is open to democracy.
While its political parties continue to bicker, Haiti's prospects for future
stability continue to slide inexorably toward the abyss. The Organization of
American States's attempts to broker an end to the downward spiral is the
best hope of reversing the decline.
Yet there is little chance for improvement without the engagement of and
assistance from the U.S. government. The United States can help create
opportunities for Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to make
improvements and rebuild trust, including repairing Haiti's dismal
human-rights record.
Sanctions alone won't help lift Haiti from poverty and misery. As it is, Mr.
Aristide's government remains paralyzed. It desperately needs the hundreds
of millions in international aid that has been frozen. The Haitian
government must show that it is opening itself to democratic processes if it
hopes to get help from the international community.
There were good reasons for the withdrawal from Haiti of a United Nations
mission this year, of U.S. training programs for Haitian police and its
justice system in 2000 and of OAS monitors in 1999. But in the void left
behind, Haiti's human-rights situation has only worsened.
A report last week by Amnesty International describes the dangers now posed
by a dysfunctional justice system, politically motivated abuses and attacks
on freedom of speech. While the repression hasn't sunk to the brutal low
that followed the 1991 military coup, there are ``extremely worrying trends
that, if not reversed, will lead to even graver violations of human
rights,'' the report says. According to Amnesty, the improvements that
followed Haiti's return to constitutional rule in 1994 have been eroded.
The unsolved murder of Jean Dominique reflects the concerns. A popular radio
commentator, Mr. Dominique was gunned down outside his radio station in
April last year. An ally of Mr. Aristide, he had been publicly critical of
some in the ruling Lavalas Family party. Efforts to find Mr. Dominique's
killers have been hindered by threats against investigating judges. Threats
to journalists and other attacks have chilled freedom of expression.
Meanwhile, irregularities in last year's Senate elections continue to
cripple Haiti's political fortunes. OAS efforts have come close, but haven't
yet produced a solution. Mr. Aristide's government must accept that the
opposition has a legitimate voice in the political system. The opposition,
too, must accept that Mr. Aristide is their democratically elected
president -- by a big margin.
Yesterday's announcement that the OAS has created a new Group of Friends on
Haiti, which includes the United States, is a hopeful sign. Better for all
to stay engaged in order to avert what could become human catastrophe.

(c) 2001 The Miami Herald and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved


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