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a57: Find Long-Term Solution (fwd)




From: leonie hermantin <lhermantin@hotmail.com>

Find Long-Term Solution

South Florida Sun-Sentinel Editorial Board
Posted December 19 2001

The Bush administration should take the latest coup attempt in Haiti as a 
sign that it needs to focus more attention on a longtime Caribbean trouble 
spot.

On Monday, gunmen stormed the presidential palace in Port-au-Prince, killing 
at least four people. In response, supporters of President Jean-Bertrand 
Aristide took to the streets, attacking the headquarters and homes of 
opposition leaders. Haiti's political climate, normally volatile, is now 
near explosion.

In Afghanistan, the United States has learned that it needs to drain the 
swamp that breeds terrorists. Haiti is the neighborhood swamp that breeds 
boat people and refugee crises for South Florida and Caribbean neighbors. 
The Bush administration has wisely vowed not to repeat the mistake of 
neglecting Afghanistan, which is what happened after U.S.-backed forces 
repelled Soviet invaders during the 1980s. A stable Afghanistan is in the 
United States' best interest. The same principle needs to be applied to 
Haiti.

Certainly, any U.S.-led international plan to develop and stabilize Haiti 
won't work unless Haitian leaders cooperate. So far, they have not. Aristide 
and the opposition Democratic Convergence are locked in a 19-month standoff 
over disputed May 2000 parliamentary and local elections. These elections 
gave the ruling Lavalas Family party near complete powers. But the 
opposition charges the voting was rigged. International observers found that 
seven senators declared winners during the first round of voting should have 
faced runoffs.

The dispute is holding up about $500 million in foreign aid for Haiti, the 
Western Hemisphere's poorest country. The Organization of American States 
has been trying to negotiate a settlement between Aristide and the 
opposition, in order to release frozen aid. OAS mediator Luigi Einaudi has 
been to Haiti numerous times over the past year to work on an agreement, but 
none has materialized.

Both sides in the dispute have behaved selfishly. Aristide's party, however, 
has agreed to hold new elections for the seven senatorial seats and 
undertake other electoral reforms. The opposition has refused to compromise, 
although Aristide also has shown little tolerance for his opponents.

Something is needed to break this logjam and give the suffering people of 
Haiti some hope. It may take greater support from Washington for OAS efforts 
in Haiti.

One thing is clear. U.S. policy toward Haiti cannot be focused on putting 
out fires. President Bill Clinton sent American troops there in 1994, to 
restore a democratically elected government. President Woodrow Wilson sent 
the Marines in 1915 to deal with another crisis -- the Marines stayed until 
1934. A long-term strategy is needed to put Haiti on the right track.
Copyright  2001, South Florida Sun-Sentinel



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