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a116: COHA Op-Ed: Haiti needs U.S. aid, not ineffective manipulation , (fwd)

From: "Melinda Miles, Haiti Reborn" <mmiles76@yahoo.com>

 > Published in Miami Herald
> December 21, 2001 
> Haiti needs U.S. aid, not ineffective manipulation
> By Larry Birns and Michael Marx McCarthy
>     This week's coup attempt on the Presidential
> Palace underlines that Haiti has been hanging from
an economic noose for many months. Its final
asphyxiation could be near at hand. 
>     The misery of Haiti, the target of calculated
> malign neglect from the State Department, could
register a telling blow against authentic U.S.
> national interests if tens of thousands of Haitians
> take to the dangerous seas to seek refuge in the
United States. 
>     Since Washington automatically repatriates most
Haitians intercepted at sea, yet allows 25,000 Cubans
to enter this nation
> annually, the United States risks not only appearing
heartless abroad, but racist at home. 
>     Political deadlock and increasingly frequent
> street violence between President Jean-Bertrand
Aristide's Lavalas Party and the opposition
> Democratic Convergence coalition combines with
abject poverty, paralyzing civil society and private
destinies. The result is the alarming sign of a
possible economically motivated mass exodus, as
indicated by an already sharp increase in migration
last year. Approximately 7,000 Haitians were
repatriated to the island after attempting to flee. 
>     Despite the grim reports widely circulating on
> the mounting Haitian crisis, there is no indication
that Washington is prepared to provide the
> leadership and funds necessary for the island to
> revive itself. If U.S. policy toward Haiti remains
wayward and uninspired -- as was the case
> throughout the Clinton years -- the Congressional
Black Caucus, in contrast
> to its admirable role in the early 1990s, has been
> listless in championing Aristide's cause as of late.

>     The Bush administration is impeding the
> disbursement of $500 million in loans and grants to
the Aristide government until it
> improves on its drug-interdiction practices and both
political parties agree on a formula to
> address voting irregularities in last year's Senate
> elections. 
>     While U.S. officials maintain that U.S. AID
> provides about $75 million in humanitarian aid to
Haitian charities to build local health-care and
> democratic infrastructure, such funds are aimed at
specific initiatives and, ultimately, are insufficient
to get the country running again. Further
> underscoring Washington's neglect, USAID is reducing
its donations to the island by $20 million in 2002,
with funding for democracy building,
> ironically enough, being cut nearly in half. 
>     Thus far, Lavalas officials have sanctioned the
> resignation of the seven disputed senators, as well
as reduced the terms of all senators elected with them
by two years. There will be early elections for the
entire body. 
>     Nonetheless, Convergence and the international
community remain recalcitrant. Convergence, a
coalition of myriad
> political factions, including those who collaborated
with the military
> during the days of the
> armed forces' junta, demands that the contested
> senators resign and that new
> elections be scheduled immediately. 
>     As the debate rages over whether this is a ruse
> to defame the president,
> Convergence benefits from tilted press coverage that
> repeatedly blames
> Aristide for the 17-month impasse. Recent meetings
> between the rival parties
> failed to ease the political stalemate, causing
> average Haitians to grow
> impatient over what seems like intransigence on both
> sides. 
>     Considering Lavalas' concessions, however, the
> Convergence appears to
> many as a bad-faith negotiator intent on fueling
> local and international
> anti-Aristide sentiment by sabotaging his as well as
> Haiti's prospects.
> Essentially, Convergence's negotiating position is
> non-negotiation. While
> Convergence is Washington's and the publicly funded
> International Republican
> Institute's faithful legate on the island, it is
> held in contempt by most
> Haitians who cannot understand why the United States
> views Aristide as a
> rogue radical, rather than a precious asset in whom
> the majority of Haitians
> believe. 
>     For Convergence, only the downfall of Lavalas
> and the humiliation of
> Aristide is acceptable. But Aristide remains an
> unbeatable political figure
> on the island due to his popularity ratings. 
>     Convergence, however, may be winning the
> propaganda war, as Haitians
> grow increasingly frustrated with a government
> unable to control political
> violence, raise living standards and protect human
> rights. 
>     Without trivializing the importance of
> democratic elections, Washington
> should consider: Where else in the world does it
> deny sending crucial aid to
> a famished neighbor in spite of its underdeveloped
> political system?
> Haitians are well aware of Washington's game and are
> likening its freezing
> of desperately needed funds to the U.S. embargo
> imposed on Haiti after their
> 1804 revolution made the island the world's first
> black republic. Haiti
> needs help, not unmerited manipulation. 
> Larry Birns is the director and Michael Marx
> McCarthy is a research
> associate at the Washington-based Council on
> Hemispheric Affairs.

> ATTACHMENT part 2 application/ms-tnef

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