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| February 25, 2004
HAITI ON VERGE OF 'ANARCHY' IN DESPERATE NEED OF OUTSIDE HELP
February 25, 2004
HAITI ON VERGE OF 'ANARCHY' IN DESPERATE NEED OF OUTSIDE HELP
** Haiti's "only hope" is a foreign intervention with an "even-handed," sustained approach.
** Critics reproach the U.S. for its reluctance to act and its "hands off Haiti" response.
** Haiti is once again "submerged in chaos"; the threat of mass exodus and civil war looms.
** Aristide is a "tragedy"; though "duly elected" he has "miserably betrayed" his supporters.
It's 'high time' the international community 'remembers its responsibility'-- Writers in the Americas and Europe agreed that a solution to Haiti's "desperate" situation can only come from the outside, but voiced frustration that "no one knows how to face this disaster." The conservative Ottawa Sun warned that the commitment must not be a "charade" as in 1994, but a "sustained occupation by forces from the OAS and, hopefully, France." Latin papers groused that the diplomatic efforts thus far show "a lack of knowledge" about Haiti's problems. "What Haiti needs," asserted Argentina's leading Clarin, is a "prolonged commitment instead of the long oblivion to which it has been subjected." Leading Colombian and Chilean dailies also held that Haiti "calls for long-term supervision" to enable a "culture of civic democracy" to take root.
Washington is being 'cautious,' but a political solution may not be enough-- World media predicted that President Bush "will not be able to ignore this kind of lawlessness in his own back yard." European leftists claimed the U.S. was "washing its hands of this catastrophe," because "the callous reality" is that "Haiti does not matter to the U.S." After contributing to "creating this monster," as Rome's center-left Il Messaggero put it, the U.S. "now doesn't know how to neutralize it." UAE and Filipino papers were equally dismayed that "Haiti has still not made too many alarm bells ring." Jamaican editorials, meanwhile, accused the U.S. of "double speak" and being "wishy-washy," which the centrist Observer argued would only encourage the Haitian thugs and political opposition, "on the wrong side of the law, logic and morality," to grab power.
Haiti is a 'nightmare'; a 'crater rather than a country'-- Global editorialists have all but written off Haiti as a "hopeless situation" spiraling out of control. Given the ingredients for "a rapid descent into murderous anarchy," according to London's conservative Times, it "could be worse even than a coup." Many anticipated "a new wave of desperate refugees" and boat people heading for U.S. coasts. Dominican papers, like their government "on maximum alert to avoid a possible avalanche of refugees," expressed fatalism that there "is nothing we can do but observe from afar" and "pray to God to intervene" to avoid a bloodbath.
Aristide's democratic credentials 'debased'-- Many blamed President Aristide for the crisis, chagrined that the former "courageous reformer" and Haiti's "best hope" had fallen back on the "same thuggish forces and fear" as the country's past despots. Haitian opposition radio flatly declared that Aristide "does not control anything." The liberal Buenos Aires Herald, however, reasoned that as "bad as Aristide might be," the rebel alternative is "even worse." Downplaying Aristide's "imperfect" tenure, Jamaican writers faulted the international community for focusing only on Mr. Aristide's "shortcomings, real and otherwise," rather than the "broad reality of Haiti."
EDITOR: Irene Marr
EDITOR'S NOTE: This analysis is based on 58 reports from 19 countries, February 10-25. Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date. Haitian radio broadcasting processed by FBIS was the only available source of Haitian media.
HAITI: "Haitian Opposition To Give its Last Word At 1700 Today"
Port-au-Prince Radio Kiskeya in Creole carried a special newscast stating (2/23): "For the first time, international mediators are considering the possibility of Jean-Bertrand Aristide stepping down before the end of his term. At the same time, we know that the international community was expecting the Haitian opposition to give its last word today at 1700 on the international community's proposal. Another important report is that France has called on all its nationals to leave the country as soon as possible. For its part, the government gave a report on its meetings with the international community. It took the opportunity to explain that Aristide agrees to implement totally the plan proposed by the international community. We are going to develop these headlines and others in a moment during this special bulletin that we are presenting this morning on the occasion of the special situation we are living in Haiti. We are explaining that this is a special 'Alternative' news program that will not be a newscast and will not last an hour. It is a special information bulletin. During this news bulletin, we will try to get in touch with Cap-Haitien for the latest information. By the way, we talked this morning with people in Cap-Haitien who told us that the [insurgents] actually came back last night and that they spent the entire night in Cap-Haitien. This morning, the people heard shooting but since they have not gone out yet they do not know whether the shooting is from the insurgents, whether it is a confrontation between the insurgents and government forces, or whether the shooting is from Lavalas members in the streets."
"What Is Gospel Is The Position Of The Haitian People That Say Aristide Must Go"
A statement by Convention for Democratic Unity [KID] leader Paul in the Creole Gazette newscast on independent, centrist commercial Port-au-Prince Radio Vision stated (2/20): "All other people who are fighting today for Aristide's departure say the same thing in their own manner.... So, whether some people are leading a strategy of peaceful struggle like the Democratic Platform, whether others are leading the same fight as Aristide, that is the fight of violence based on weapons, so far, I have not yet heard anybody saying that he is going to enter the palace with weapons and that he will stand behind his machine gun to lead the country.... What I think must be fundamental is that even if the U.S. secretary of state says so, it is not what we should take as gospel. What is gospel is the position of the Haitian people in the various organized sectors that say Aristide must go. What is fundamental today is that Aristide must be reasonable enough to realize that he does not control anything.... Today, I do not know if Aristide controls one-third or one-quarter of the territory of the country or what percentage of the people he controls. In this particular context, I believe the Democratic Platform has to take a political responsibility so we can reach a solution that is compatible with the line the U.S. secretary of state just developed and in accordance with all the factions that have stood up for Aristide's departure without ignoring the political party called the Lavalas Family [FL]. I believe that I have heard many people talking the same way. The FL people must participate in concerted actions quickly so that armed people do not have to enter Port-au-Prince to force Aristide to leave the palace."
"All Haitians Have A Responsibility"
Pointing out that the political opposition has taken further steps in setting up a climate of violence in the country by asking for the destruction of public offices in the provinces, Paul Raymond commented in the "Share the News" newscast in government-owned Port-au-Prince Radio Nationale (2/19): "All Haitians without distinction have responsibility in what is going on today in the country. This is the reason why we say: All the people who knew how FRAPH and the Haitian Army caused pigs to eat people's cadavers on piles of trash, these men who were committing acts of kidnapping and rape, all these people should rise up today. All the people who do not agree with the apartheid system in South Africa should rise up. All the people who believe in freedom should rise up. All the people who believe in security for all should rise up, everybody without distinction.... We all know how RAMICOS [Assembly of Staunch Militants of the Commune of Saint-Marc] in Saint-Marc killed a lot of our partisans. The motherless and criminal army that is under the control of the opposition, the Convergence, and the G-184 [Group of 184 Civil Society Organizations] that is torturing and killing people has now taken a new step. Apparently, they have said that since it is the population as a whole who is against democracy and freedom then they will need to kill at least 1,500,000 people.... The Haitian people should revolt and say: Want it or not Haiti should be free."
"Lavalas Regime Threatens Necklacing"
An announcer for independent, private French-language Tele Haiti TV asserted (2/18): "The leaders of Lavalas people's organizations [OP] call for violence against the bourgeoisie. While giving a press conference yesterday Paul Raymond and Rene Civil invited the poor people of the shantytowns of Port-au-Prince to loot the property of the people who are economically well off. The partisans of the Lavalas regime have threatened to return with the burning-tire-round-the-neck system against people in case of a possible attack by the Gonaives rebels. It should be reminded that a former leader of the Revolutionary Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haiti [FRAPH] as well as former military members have now joined the Artibonite Resistance Front. President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's partisans declare that they are ready to face any attack from the Artibonite rebels against Port-au-Prince."
CANADA: "Haiti's Only Hope Is Foreign Intervention"
Foreign affairs analyst Eric Margolis commented in the conservative tabloid Ottawa Sun (2/22): "In three centuries, Haiti went from the richest nation in the Western Hemisphere to the poorest. Haitians, once renowned as the most artistic, gracious and cultured of all West Indians, have been reduced to being beggars. Haiti is too ruined to govern itself. The only solution is foreign intervention. Not a charade, like Clinton's 'democracy' invasion, but sustained occupation by forces from the Organization of American States and, hopefully, France, which may lead the rescue mission. The U.S. is too busy trying to colonize Iraq to help Haiti. A multinational force should stay until Haiti is reforested, and its basic institutions--courts, police, civil service, schools--made to function. This tutelage will take a decade and cost millions. But there is no other choice for desperate Haiti, except more agony, or a Castro-style Marxist revolution."
"Aristide Under Trusteeship"
Editorialist Serge Truffaut wrote in the liberal Le Devoir (2/21): "The assessment of the Haitian file made by Secretary of State Colin Powell twenty four hours ago is slightly different than the one made until then. Before there was no question of making any move that would directly or indirectly facilitate the departure of President Jean-Baptiste Aristide. In the eyes of the Bush administration he was an untouchable. That is no longer quite the case.... So far the plan drawn up by the Caribbean countries (Caricom) does not include Aristide's departure. Now, if at the end of the negotiations which begin today, 'an agreement is reached to go in another direction, that's fine,' said Powell.... All things considered, the days of Aristide are numbered. At the very least he is under trusteeship."
The leading Globe and Mail editorialized (Internet version, 2/17): "Haiti is again sliding into anarchy while its neighbors wring their hands and hope the latest crisis to grip the impoverished country can be resolved without their intervention. That seems increasingly unlikely.... The current crisis can be traced to the 2000 election, which was swept by Mr. Aristide and his ruling party amid widespread accusations of fraud.... Mr. Aristide had earlier promised to disarm the gangs loyal to him, allow peaceful demonstrations and appoint a prime minister acceptable to the opposition, in a process leading to new elections. But he is not known for keeping his promises. In fact, he has been a bitter disappointment to supporters, including the U.S. and other governments, which restored him to power after a coup and have propped him up through the years as Haiti's best hope for democratic reform. Canada sent soldiers and police to Haiti in 1996 as part of a United Nations multinational force... Sadly, eight years later, democracy still hasn't taken root, and the police appear helpless to maintain order. Mr. Aristide must be persuaded to hold new, fair elections before his current term expires in 2006 and to disarm the organized gangs who give their loyalty in exchange for the freedom to pursue their criminal activities. And Haiti's neighbors and friends, including Canada, should prepare once again to intervene for the sake of stability and order."
"U.S. Invasion Of Haiti Was Ideological Self-Indulgence"
Columnist George Jonas observed in the nationalist Ottawa Citizen (2/16): "Comparing America's 1994 intervention in Haiti with the Bush-administration's intervention in Iraq is instructive. The similarities are self-evident. Both military operations were designed to bring about a regime-change. Both were aimed at getting rid of a ruling strongman: Saddam Hussein in Iraq, and Gen. Raoul Cedras in Haiti. Both operations aimed to bring democracy to the people. There were also obvious differences. Cedras never invaded any of his neighbours. Cedras never developed, tried to develop, or pretended to try to develop, weapons of mass destruction.... A sliding scale of murderous dictatorships, with, say, Hitler being a 10, would show Saddam a solid eight. Cedras would barely make it to a three.... For the Clinton crowd and the black congressional caucus, it was no contest. Aristide was their boy, and on Sept. 19, 1994, they sent in the Marines. Operation Restore (Uphold) Democracy - it went under both names - did everything but restore (or uphold) democracy in Haiti. In fairness, it would have been difficult to restore or uphold something that never existed.... The Bush administration's invasion of Iraq was at least arguably based on national (and international) self-interest. The Clinton administration's 1994 invasion of Haiti was a demonstration of using military power solely for ideological reasons. The two incursions are textbook illustrations of the words utile and futile. Yet guess which of the two invasions had the UN's blessing, utile Iraq or futile Haiti? And guess which of the two resulted in a controversy that may yet cost a president his reelection?"
"Mugging Haiti's High Hopes"
Gordon Barthos wrote in the liberal Toronto Star (Internet version, 2/12): "This growing chaos has diminished Aristide's stature. But no figure has arisen to rival his popularity with the poor who make up the great majority.... Haiti's elite...has never accepted Aristide. But many of Haiti's 8 million poor...regard him as their hero. And if Aristide were ousted, his foes would soon be at each others' throats.... This violence serves notice that Haiti will need more than a few short years to rid itself of a predatory political culture that encourages a small political elite to chase power, privilege and wealth by winning public office, and to hang on by rewarding cronies. If Aristide hopes to survive this crisis, he should agree to share more power by appointing a new prime minister who commands the confidence of opposition groups. He ought to head a broad coalition, not the biggest gang. He must rein in his armed supporters and hold internationally supervised elections. This time, the opposition should contest them. Most importantly, a line must be drawn against anarchy. Aristide was elected by all Haitians. His forced removal by armed foes would be a tragic step backward."
ARGENTINA: "Neither Aristide Nor Rebels Will Survive Civil War "
Oscar Raul Cardoso, international analyst of leading Clarin, opined (2/25) "The resolution of the Haitian crisis...may not be so far away as suggested by the tragedy being lived right now... The U.S. has made the kind of proposal that should be very hard, but not impossible, to reject. According to the initiative, Aristide would maintain the presidency until the end of his term, in 2006, although his government would be a symbolic one, and confronting factions would attempt to live together in a transition government... The U.S., France... and the OAS have approved the scheme. Neither Aristide nor those who can succeed him are in a position to survive civil war regardless of who wins. Haiti is now a beggar and any government emerging from chaos will have to resort to the big world donors in order to survive.... Money and democratic institutions will be the renewed key to any rational future for Haiti... The U.S. is not only the most powerful nation of the region but also the one having the most to lose as a consequence of the crisis. Only 800 kilometers away from Haiti, the U.S. coasts closest to it could again attract desperate migration. It is not the best time for this to happen. Determined as Washington is in the Middle East and Asia, its ability to develop efforts in Haiti is in doubt. Also, the U.S. does not have a good reputation in democratic reconstruction out of its borders."
"Still Too Far From Bush's Priorities"
Jorge Rosales, Washington-based correspondent for daily-of-record La Nacion, commented (2/24): "The Bush administration's priorities are today thousands of kilometers away from Haiti.... In contrast to what happened in 1994...this time the U.S. will only limit itself to seek a political solution, which is becoming a failure at the moment. It is a euphemism that means that there will not be any military solution... Not everyone agrees in the Bush administration on how to act vis-à-vis the crisis.... Colin Powell believes that democracy should be respected and he opposes any military intervention. The search for a way out of the tragedy in Haiti is in hands of Canada, France, the U.S. and the Caribbean countries. France is in favor of military intervention, but this should be in the hands of the U.S. or a multinational force. Canada rejects the military choice.... At the moment, Washington does not know what to do with Haiti... The search for a solution of the Haitian crisis leaves Latin American countries in the role of observers rather than central players. However, all of them defend democracy at the OAS."
"Haiti's Hell Heightens"
Michael Soltys, executive editor of liberal, English-language Buenos Aires Herald wrote (2/24): "The outcome in Haiti will depend on the rather feeble firepower of the two sides unless either the Haitian people as a whole or the international community decide to take a decisive part in events. And as things now stand, there is scant prospect of either. Bad as Aristide might be with his broken promises since a suspect election in 2000, most Haitians probably suspect that the rebel alternative is even worse.... The international community is suffering from Haiti fatigue and has yet to come up with an effective response.... Aristide would be more than willing to accept a peacekeeping force and Haiti's old colonial master France...shows interest in the idea but has yet to find any backing. The OAS is nowhere to be seen. But the international community (or at least the U.S.) may be forced to do something if it wishes to avoid a repetition of the refugee wave of 1994."
"Everything Can Be Little And Too Late"
Marcelo Cantelmi wrote in leading Clarin (2/23): "The only thing that allows president Aristide to survive is the lack of anyone who could possibly replace him. There are no figures among opponents having the background required to lead the transition process. The big reason why powers protect Aristide is the threat of waves of refugees seeking U.S. coasts as happened ten years ago. But everything can be little and too late to stop a national rebellion and for which Aristide himself is to be blamed. Haiti is today a crater rather than a country, a social hole on the verge of explosion."
"A Small Africa At The Doors Of The U.S."
Oscar Raul Cardoso, international analyst for leading Clarin, commented (2/21): "Haiti seems to be on the verge of civil war under the first popularly elected government in its two centuries of existence.... No wonder why last week U.S. State Secretary Colin Powell candidly said there is not too much enthusiasm in Washington about the idea of another international military intervention to pacify the Caribbean country.... The risk of unleashing a new wave of desperate refugees toward U.S. coasts is present. As French experts explained, the U.S. has reasons to 'fear a new Liberia'... Foreign political...or military...intervention is highly likely due to bad reasons such as fear of refugees.... Nevertheless, it is sure that any action only aimed at putting a brake to imminent chaos will end up leading to another failure in the mid-term. What Haiti needs is what it has not obtained so far--a prolonged commitment from the international community instead of the long oblivion to which it has been subject, just like Africa."
"Haiti: Fewer Chances For A Solution"
Pablo Biffi remarked in leading Clarin (2/13): "The deterioration of Aristide's government is so big that chances of reaching a solution to the crisis are narrowing considerably. Unable to give a real answer to protest rallies and armed rebels who call for his resignation, repression by state forces or its armed followers may lead the country to a bloodbath. The U.S. doesn't seem willing to support Aristide, although it does endorse a political and institutional 'solution'--which is an euphemism for his 'resignation--that will pacify a country in flames. A wave of Haitian 'boat people' going to Florida in an election year is not good news for the Bush administration. All in all, Aristide is now the shadow of that 'reverend of the poor' who over a decade ago offered to take his country out of poverty."
BRAZIL: "Brazil Is Against Intervention"
Sandra Lefcovich noted in pro-government Correio Braziliense (Internet Version-WWW, 2/19): "Minister Celso Amorim rejects sending troops to contain the rebellion that could overthrow President Aristide, but indicates that he would accept a humanitarian mission. Foreign Minister Celso Amorim yesterday defended an international community action in relation to the crisis in Haiti, as long as it focuses on maintaining the peace and dialogue. Amorim does not agree with a foreign intervention in the Caribbean nation unless it has a humanitarian and peacekeeping purpose - and the clear consent of the Haitians.... The Brazilian Government is in direct contact with the French Government, studying the sending of a humanitarian mission that will 'perhaps' involve troops.... The United States has already warned that it does not agree with the French proposal. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said that the Haitian Government and opposition must negotiate, and that then a mission to monitor compliance with an eventual accord would be sent.... The UNSC yesterday condemned the conflicts that have already killed at least 56 people and asked President Aristide and opposition leaders to resume talks to reestablish order. The Mercosur [Common Market of the South] countries (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay), and their associates, Chile and Bolivia, have also emphasized their support for democracy in Haiti, and asked for the parties involved to remain calm."
CHILE: "The international Community Must Take Responsibility"
Conservative daily-of-record El Mercurio asserted (2/21): "The effort of the international community to take democracy to Haiti has failed several times. Perhaps those efforts failed because of the lack of political will to finish the job. Perhaps the situation calls for long-term supervision, until the Haitian society can become saturated with the culture of civic democracy, until political institutions consolidate, and until the economy can provide some guarantees for eight million impoverished Haitians."
COLOMBIA: "Haiti And Backwardness"
An editorial in Cali-based, Conservative Party-oriented El Pais stated (2/23): "The efforts of the OAS to reach a solution to the conflict are necessary. But the intervention must be deeper and obtain some semblance of stability and some hope for cultural development in a country that has never been able to pull itself and is in the advanced stages of social deterioration, with obvious risks to its people and neighboring countries."
CUBA: "Haiti: Sequestered Truth"
Joaquin Milanes A. reported in leading government-run Havana Radio Rebelde (2/18): "Once again, those who control the airwaves, as well as printed and digital press, have launched one of their fashionable media campaigns to distort the truth. This time it is against the very humble republic of Haiti. Dr. Marie Andrine Constant, Haitian ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary to Cuba has revealed in Havana the sequestered truth of what is actually happening in her country.... The Haitian diplomat revealed that her country's current crisis is the result of the battle the Haitian people have been waging for a measure of political control over the nation's affairs, which is currently in the hands of elite groups that represent barely one percent of the population and are refusing to share it with majority sectors. The ambassador supplied hitherto unseen pictures of recent demonstrations of support for constitutional President Jean-Bertrand Aristide that mass media have not shown to the world.... Adrine Constant recalled that her country has the bitter experience of 30-plus bloody coup d'etats and that President Aristide has called for dialogue with the opposition in an effort to avert the current political and social crisis and reasserted that he will not resign and will serve in full his constitutional term in office through February 2006.... When queried by Radio Rebelde, the ambassador pledged on behalf of the Haitian Government to guarantee the security of 500-plus Cubans, mainly health workers, who are providing a vast array of cost-free cooperation services throughout the neighboring country and eliciting nothing but affection and gratitude from the Haitian people, according to the ambassador. My country opposes any kind of foreign military intervention that may be prompted by the current worldwide disinformation campaign based on the lies and slander disseminated by rightwing and opposition news media," the Haitian ambassador to Havana told this radio station."
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: "God Help Haiti"
Establishment, pro-business Listin Diario warned (2/24): "As days and hours pass, violence increases and makes Haiti more dangerous each day.... It is not only the offensive operations of a rebel irregular army, but also of the news reports about popular strikes supporting [it], shouting against President Aristide. This is very significant, since the Haitian constitutional president has always been considered a leader with a lot of popular support. In light of this, Dominican Armed Forces have been put on maximum alert to avoid a possible avalanche of Haitians looking fo refuge in our country.... We Dominicans only have to pray to God to intervene and avoid a bloodbath that would only serve to aggravate the prevailing injustices and increase resentments. That is the only thing we can do, because this small country, affected by an economic crisis that we are only starting to overcome slowly, is not in any condition to give Haitians material help no matter how powerful our feelings are in that regard, and no matter how supportive we want to be with that fellow country."
Left-of-center independent morning tabloid El Dia held (2/24): "Haiti is going through tough times. Without taking sides...we can't but worry about the luck of that poor country as well as the consequences that its crisis can generate on this side of the border. Special attention should be paid to the intentions of certain developed countries or international organizations, that our country, due to its proximity, be used as safe haven for refugees fleeing that country for political or economic reasons. The dilemma is a very serious one. On one side, there are humanitarian reasons...but on the other side, there is the cruel reality: if we Dominicans cannot cope with our own needs, how can we take care of somebody else's? We simply can't. We fully endorse the opinions of the Secretary of the Armed Forces that if the international organizations want to offer assistance and help Haiti's critical situation, they must do so within the [geographic] limits of that country. Or better yet, we add, within the geographic borders of countries better developed than ours. But, as for us, We Can't!!"
"Haiti Is For Haitians"
Establishment, leading morning tabloid Diario Libre editorialized (2/20): "We Dominicans have nothing to do with [Haiti's] crisis, except to observe from afar and let Haitians solve their conflicts. If the international community takes some action, then we have to support those efforts...we are interested in a democratic and calm Haiti, but without the intervention of Dominican hands.
"Effects Of Haitian Crisis On The Dominican Republic"
Leading Listin Diario carried an editorial stating (2/18): "A sense of lawlessness that has ruled over Haiti has given liberty to drug and arms traffickers, and now the Dominican Republic is full of drugs.... Given the economic situation in Haiti, Dominican cities all have Haitian neighborhoods now. These are like ghettos which, it claims, are breeding grounds for more problems in the future.... Now the violence in Haiti could be like a spark when added to the current economic and social despair that the Dominican Republic is experiencing.... The Haitian situation has not been given the attention that it deserves, but soon the country will feel the negative effects of not having dealt with the situation in time."
GUATEMALA: "Crucial Time For Haiti"
Business-oriented Siglo Veintiuno held (2/15): "Aristide did not know how to interpret the importance of having moved international public opinion in his favor, and instead of establishing a democratic government; he established a repressive and corrupt regime. The institutions became stagnant and the economy did not generate the appropriate conditions to free Haitians from poverty. It is probable that things will develop rapidly, according to recent reports. But in any case, the best outcome will be that democracy triumphs...with as few casualties as possible."
JAMAICA: "The Crisis Is In Part The Fault Of The International Community"
The editorial of the business-oriented, centrist Observer asserted (2/23): "That it has come to this is in part the fault of the international community, who focused only on the shortcomings, real and otherwise, of Mr. Aristide rather the broad reality of Haiti. Sanctions were bound to break the country and lay the basis for today's instability which has been so cynically exploited by those who claim democracy as their agenda. But it need not have come to this had there been clear and definitive declarations by those who have the muscle to make their voices really count--the United States, Canada, the European Union--that there will be no rewards for violence and undemocratic actions to achieve political ends. They at times, mostly late in the day, admonished against violence as a political tool. But there was always a sense that these statements were delivered in a language full of double-speak that left the impression that the remarks also contained something of a nod and a wink. It was a policy based on personality rather than what is right and what is moral."
"Get A Coalition Of The Willing For Haiti"
The editorial of the business-oriented, centrist Observer stressed (2/19): "There is little doubt that the Haitian Opposition is on the wrong side of law, logic and morality. Imperfect though Mr. Aristide's tenure has been, Jamaica and its partners in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) must remain firm that they will not tolerate in the community any member where the government seizes power via extra-constitutional meansWe suggest that [CARICOM] engages the United Nations to put together a peace-keeping and humanitarian mission for Haiti, whose immediate mandate must be to help the legitimate government restore order and to disarm the private militias that have taken over Gonaives and other towns. We hope that the United States would support the mounting of such a mission, including contributing peacekeepers, for a job on its third border to help out friends. But even if the United States is not particularly inclined towards such a mission, it cannot be too difficult a process for CARICOM to get Security Council blessing to establish a coalition of the willing to ensure peace, stability and democracy in the community's front yard."
The centrist Observer opined (2/15): "What the U.S. should be doing is not sending signals that replacing Mr. Aristide might not be too bad a development. Rather, Secretary of State Powell should be sending a clear message to the opposition that the chosen route to power should be through the ballot box in legislative elections. He should also be telling [Assistant Secretary of State] Noriega that America will join sponsorship on the Kingston Accord which President Aristide arrived at with CARICOM leaders. Should the U.S. fail to take the moral high road it could find itself, even in this post-Cold War world, 'losing' the Caribbean."
"Don't Reward Haitian Opposition For Violence"
The business-oriented, centrist Observer editorialized (2/13): "[The U.S. should] tell the Haitian opposition that it will tolerate nothing less than democratic behavior. After today's meeting between Foreign Minister Knight and the CARICOM delegation with Assistant Secretary Noriega, we expect to hear that Washington has made it clear to the opposition that they can expect no reward from America for violence."
PANAMA: "As Of Today"
Government critic La Prensa commented (2/22): "The efforts in the diplomatic sphere to overcome the current institutional crisis are not enough and show a lack of knowledge of the problems of the Haitians. They are mistaken in thinking that Haiti needs only a cosmetic makeover.... What is needed is a commitment from the international community."
BRITAIN: "Throttled By History"
Under the sub-head, Haiti's political class has failed it, but the first black republic has also been squeezed dry by a vengeful west," an editorial in the far-left Guardian asserted (2/23): "The most urgent issue to stem the descent into gang warfare and political anarchy. In this the Haitians have been let down by poor domestic political leadership on all sides...in return for political freedom, Aristide was compelled to accept economic enslavement, bound by terms imposed by the IMF and the World Bank. Post-colonial military aggression gave way to the brutal forces of globalisation. Before Aristide had even considered fixing the elections, the west had already rigged the markets.... None of this excuses the shortcomings of either the current administration of its detractors. But it helps explain why the roots of the current crisis are so deep, and spread so far. Aristide has been dealt few cards, and those he had he has played badly. He has tainted a nascent democratic culture. But to allow him to be deposed at the hands of former dictators will destroy it altogether. Aristide could do far better for Haiti. Haiti could do far worse than Aristide."
The conservative Times judged (2/18): "This could be worse even than a coup. The weakness of the police, the violence of the gangs and the return to Haiti of sinister figures from Haiti's past could produce a rapid descent into murderous anarchy. In the name of democracy, the president has appealed for outside help--but it is in the name of order and humanitarian concern that he will get it. His credentials as a democrat have been debased.... Washington is disinclined to intervene directly. The UN is grimly preparing for a massive exodus of starving refugees. France appears to have taken Washington's reluctance to get involved as a challenge to demonstrate French leadership. Were it to deploy a peacekeeping force...it has 4,000 troops available in the Caribbean. Against gangs of a few dozen men, a small well-armed force could be effective.... Disaster can probably be averted in Haiti, but only if it is clear that this crisis is the beginning of the end for Jean-Bertrand Aristide."
"The Caribbean Nightmare"
The conservative Daily Telegraph remarked (Internet version, 2/14): "Haiti has long been a thorn in the Americans' side.... In 1994...to reverse the overthrow of an elected government by coup d'etat, they led a multinational force into the country. The ousted president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was duly restored and completed his mandate.... The rebellion puts the Americans in an awkward position. They are critical of Mr. Aristide's rule, in particular his use of thugs to intimidate political opponents. However, they recognize that he was duly elected four years ago and that his immediate departure could create a power vacuum inviting even greater chaos than at present.... Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere and for nearly half a century has been a byword for violence.... This... has marked the subsequent faltering attempts at democratic governance. The Americans may not wish again to intervene directly but they cannot but be concerned by the prospect of a failed state on their doorstep, particularly in an age of global terrorism. Miserable and murderous, the western half of the island of Hispaniola stubbornly resists a superpower's attempt to bring stability."
"America's Position On Haiti Is, Frankly, Indefensible"
The center-left Independent editorialized (2/19): "The poorest country in the western hemisphere is collapsing, its people living in fear once again. But America washes its hands of this catastrophe, even though it is happening in its own backyard.... To rule out intervention so swiftly is ill judged, to say nothing of being morally indefensible.... Washington could use its influence, and the threat of military might, to force Aristide, whose term expires in 2006, to devolve power to a consensus Prime Minister; to withdraw his armed gangs, after which international aid, cancelled in 2000, could begin to flow again. The callous reality is that economically and strategically, Haiti does not matter to the U.S. The only concern is that Haiti's collapse could spark what one senator called an exodus of refugees 'in rickety boats'."
FRANCE: "The Opposition Or Disaster"
Yves Therard wrote in right-of-center Le Figaro (2/24): "The crisis in Haiti is raising once again the question of when to intervene in order to free a people from a dictator. The other question that it raises is why the U.S., which asked no one's permission to get rid of Saddam Hussein, is not banging on the table.... Part of the answer may lie in the fact that this Caribbean island is worth very little to the U.S. The island has lost its strategic role since the end of the Cold War.... Another reason why no one is eager to intervene is because no one seems to believe there is hope for Haiti. Neither player seems to promise a successful outcome, not Aristide, who built his power on treason.... Not the opposition, which is divided and whose leader lacks charisma.... And finally not the armed rebels who want Aristide out but will hardly compromise with the opposition. Without a firm involvement of the international community, chaos is a certainty.... Either the West decides to help the opposition or it continues to squabble, leaving the door open to the lawless rebels and to disaster. Intervention in Haiti is a necessity that must overcome the West's soul-searching."
Patrick Sabatier judged in left-of-center Liberation (2/24): "Two hundred years after the birth of the first black republic, Haiti is plunging into anarchy.... Aristide's despotism is the cause of the impending chaos. His departure will most probably be the condition for a resolution of the crisis.... On the ground, the situation is in such disarray that one can hardly understand why the U.S., the dominant presence in Haiti for the past one hundred years, still refuses to send a UN-led international force, as it did ten years ago and as France has suggested. This option appears to be the only way to put a stop to the anarchy that is fast turning into a massacre and a humanitarian tragedy."
"Aristide's Salvation Depends On The International Community"
Romeo Langlois and Pascale Mariani observed in center-right Le Figaro (2/20): "At the current rate, not many people bet on the chances of the authoritarian regime of defrocked priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Unless a foreign intervention force intervenes. 'That is the only thing that could save the president,' a Haitian journalist feels.... The United States, hostile to intervention to restore order in Haiti, yesterday [19 February] indicated it intends to suggest a series of measures starting today [20 February].... Yet according to some observers, only a voluntary departure by Aristide could avert an attack on Port-au-Prince announced by the rebels.... But for now, the Americans are trying to deal with first things first: the protection of their fellow citizens. The Pentagon announced yesterday [19 February] that it was going to send a small team to the scene to evaluate the security of its embassy in Port-au-Prince, where the United States has already reduced its presence. And the State Department has 'strongly advised American citizens to leave the country while commercial flights are still in operation.' Aristide, for his part, is hanging on. He has repeated his desire to stay to the end of his term, meaning until 2006, and has even said he is 'prepared to die' to defend his country. Yesterday [19 February] evening, he was still calling his troops to arms, appealing to the police to fight the insurgents and describing as a 'bluff' their threatening statements about an imminent seizure of Port-au-Prince."
"The Question Of Haiti"
Left-of-center Le Monde in its editorial (2/19): "When to implement the right to intervene? What is the level of a people's suffering that determines when the international community must act? How does one reconcile humanitarian 'law' with international law?. The question will soon arise for Haiti. It will concern France for historical reasons, the U.S. for geographical reasons, and the Organization of American States, because there is very little chance that things will improve. On the contrary.. Nothing good is to be expected from either side.. The population is in danger. An intervention has become a must. But President Aristide was democratically elected.. He can claim legitimacy."
"Haiti Will Not Make It Alone"
Jacques Amalric in left-of-center Liberation (2/19): "To speak of a 'political solution' in the face of the Haitian chaos as the U.S. is doing is akin to accepting the disaster that is in the making. The solution, if indeed there is one, can only come from the outside. Because we cannot expect anything from the U.S., which is concentrated on Iraq and the presidential elections, and if multilateralism and the UN still mean something, it behooves nations like France, Canada, Mexico and Brazil to take the initiative. Quickly."
"Intervention And Its Traps"
Renaud Girard commented in right-of-center Le Figaro (2/18): "FM de Villepin suggested deploying an international peace force in Haiti, but he did it with much caution. In the past ten years history has shown that sending western troops into a foreign land in the grips of disturbances did not necessarily lead to peace and democracy.... The right to intervene is a weapon that demands extreme caution.... The military phase is the easy part.... The delicate one is always the post-war phase. There is nothing as easy as defeating an old army in a foreign territory. But there is nothing as complicated as being successful in what the Americans call 'nation-building' in a foreign land.... Because President Bush did not ask himself all the proper preliminary questions about Iraq a year ago, he finds himself in a difficult position with regard to America's voters. When Kofi Annan made his suggestions for reforming the UN, he suggested rehabilitating the old system of trusteeship. Here is an issue that could serve as a foundation for rebuilding the Franco-American dialogue."
"France Ready To Intervene In Haitian Chaos"
Veronique Soule remarked in left-of-center Liberation (2/18): "In face of the risk of chaos in Haiti, France intervened yesterday, mentioning the sending of an international force.... Since the beginning of the troubles on 5 February, the international community has remained relatively passive, while the parties -- President Aristide, the armed rebels demanding his departure, and the peaceful opposition -- have remained intransigent.... By proposing a peace force, France, absent from the Washington meeting, is taking the initiative. In face of the possibility of seeing the Americans take charge of seeking a solution, Villepin, a believer in diplomatic activism, is apparently seeking to open the process and get back to the multilateralism so dear to France. At the Quay d'Orsay, they indicated that Paris was working in consultation with Washington, but also with Germany as well as Mexico and Brazil, two countries against U.S. hegemony."
GERMANY: "As Usual"
Business daily Handelsblatt of Duesseldorf concluded (2/24): "The rebels plan to control the country in about two weeks. But what then?... Haiti is a sad example of a small developing nation that succeeded in getting rid of its despots, but this should not be mixed up with the term 'liberation.'... Current President Aristide also gave in to the exhilaration of power and money. Business as usual and this is all the more true for the U.S. backyard. And it has also become usual that international mediators appear on the stage trying to save what can be saved.... There is no lack of noble peace plans. But not on the agenda is how they can be implemented. Everybody knows that a great deal of the insurgents come from the army, which Aristide dissolved, but nobody is thinking about protecting the Haitians. Instead other countries do their duty and warn against trips to the downtrodden island."
"Haiti's Opposition Should Give In"
Roland Heine said in left-of-center Berliner Zeitung (2/23): "The attitude of leaders of the politically diverse opposition is very comprehensible. Given all the experience they have little reason to believe in Aristide's assurances. The fear seems to be that giving in to their demands at the moment would give rebels a fresh impetus, leading to their domination of the entire country. One can only assume what this would mean because several former militias from the time of the dictatorship already joined the rebels. A solution can only be found if the rebels a willing to make comprises. They are the only armed force in the country at the moment. Thus, only an international peace mission or an alliance between Aristide supporters and the political opposition would have a chance to avoid the worst. Also Aristide must fear the rebels more than anything else. That could be the way to force him to comply with an agreement."
Erik-Michael Bader opined in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (2/21): "Despite all the allegations against Aristide, forcing him to resign would be rather destructive for the chance to establish democracy after two hundred years of mostly heroic-theatrical-violent Haitian history. It is also dubious whether, in the long run, he will be positive for human rights in Haiti. But that would be even more the case if rebels violently toppled him. On the other side, it would also be a catastrophe if Aristide continued to rule in the same way. Consequently, the Washington plan, which was agreed with other countries, does not mean that Aristide must resign; but it opens the option of his resignation in the context of negotiations. Given his missionary self-confidence, it is unlikely that Aristide will agree to such a solution, but less than that will not satisfy the opposition.... It looks impossible that the armed rebels agree to a negotiated solution that excludes Aristide's fall and includes their disarmament. It will require a lot of pressure from Washington on all participants to pacify the trouble spot Haiti."
John Hehn asserted in right-of-center Die Welt (Internet Version-WWW, 2/19): "There is no shortage of good reasons for the great caution being displayed by both the United States and France over the escalating crisis in Haiti.... There are examples aplenty of this, ranging from Somalia, via Kosovo, to Iraq, where even the U.S. superpower appears to have reached the limits of its potential.... Washington should not dismiss out of hand the French offer to act 'jointly,' for example within the framework of the UNSC l in seeking a solution to the crisis. For what is at stake is not just Haiti, on the Americans' doorstep, but the fundamental issue of crisis resolution as a whole. Joint action would offer the possibility of considering not only ways of achieving a rapid solution to this crisis, but also the potential scope for ensuring long-term civil and political reconstruction, so as to enable Haiti to break out of its vicious circle of abuse of power, corruption, and violence. Haiti would provide a good opportunity to learn from the errors of past ventures. If the Americans and French were able to achieve this together, then future crisis interventions could be anticipated with less concern."
"High Time For Haiti"
Rudoph Chimelli noted in an editorial in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (2/18): "With every day of confusion in Haiti it is becoming more obvious that nobody is able to stop the chaos on the island.... But apart from preparing Guantánamo Bay for the acceptance of tens of thousands of boat people, the United States is currently doing nothing. French rule over the island dates back two centuries...but France has forces in neighboring Guadeloupe and Martinique and Cayenne. They could...be quickly mobilized to preserve peace and to offer humanitarian assistance. It is not very likely that the French could become active on their own or without Aristide's approval. The Haitian president in turn only wants to accept 'technical assistance' from the OAS. Haiti's best chance would be a UN decision."
"Customs Of The Country"
Klaus Ehringfeld commented in left-of-center Berliner Zeitung (2/12): "President Aristide has lost touch with the realities of his destitute country. Being surrounded by apple-polishers and protected by dozens of bodyguards from the U.S., he doesn't see that Haiti is plunging into a civil war and that his days are numbered. His insistence on staying in power till 2006 is wishful thinking because there is nothing Haitians know better than toppling governments."
"Haiti Without Hopes"
Rudolph Chimelli judged in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (2/10): "One thing is certain: there can be no longer a solution which is based on reconciliation of the legitimate opposition with the president. His opponents demand that Aristide must go. The term of the elected president ends in two years. If he gives in to the pressure of the streets, if he is ousted, displaced or killed, then this would correspond exactly to the things Haiti has experienced over the past 200 years. The democratic alternative looks different. Emergency assistance is necessary: the organization of Caribbean and American States, the UN, the United States, the Europeans."
ITALY: "Fear In Haiti, The Rebels Ready To March On The Capital"
Center-left daily Il Messaggero noted (2/24): "The international community continues to repeat that it will not accept a military solution to the crisis under way in the Caribbean island. The U.S., EU, the OAS and CARICOM have refused to send a military contingent to Haiti until the government and the opposition has reached a political agreement.. Faced with the refusal on the part of the opposition, international mediators have for the first time made it understood that they are ready to examine the possibility of Aristide's immediate exit. Fearing an imminent rebel attack on Port-au-Prince, France and Germany are asking their citizens to leave Haiti immediately."
"Haiti, The Rebels Conquer The North"
Omero Ciai reported in left-leaning, influential La Repubblica (2/23): "The fall of Cap Haitien makes Aristide's position even more precarious and the peace plan unfeasible. Roger Noriega, Bush's Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, heading an international delegation, presented it to the government and to the opposition the day before last. The plan, which was drafted by the U.S., France and Canada, calls for an agreement between the President, who still has two years of mandate and the non-violent moderate opposition that unites all the parties.. Haiti is surviving thanks to international donations and to 248 non-governmental organizations that are dividing up the pie of aid distribution. No one knows how to face this disaster. The Americans, who are willing to move only in the diplomatic sphere for fear of a new wave of refugees on the coast of Florida, don't know what to do. The French don't know what to do either as they would like to return to this ex-colony as the leaders of an international contingent."
"Aristide: 'America, Help Me Stop the Rebels'"
Paolo Mastrolilli commented in centrist, influential daily La Stampa (2/18): "The rebels are moving toward the center of the country. The UN is preparing to facilitate the refugees' exodus. President Aristide is appealing to the international community to intervene. France is considering sending a peace force. The U.S. is cautious. These stories have all been heard before in Haiti's recent past and they demonstrate how the Caribbean country risks slipping into chaos."
"The Rebels Advance, Haiti In Chaos"
Riccardo De Palo noted in Rome's center-left Il Messaggero (2/18): "Haiti. Eight million inhabitants, seven million of which live in total poverty.... The president, Aristide, a former priest, who was placed in power by 20,000 marines...was seen at the time as a hope for democracy and peace, but proved unable to avoid the errors made by all his predecessors. This country is in utter chaos. The U.S., which contributed to creating this 'monster,' now doesn't know how to neutralize it."
"Washington Pressures Aristide To Step Down"
Elite, classical liberal Il Foglio observed (2/11): "The U.S. is facing a dramatic emergency. Haiti is ungovernable. Aristide must be removed from power. An expeditionary force must go in to save what is salvageable and to ward off a devastating humanitarian crisis, like in Sierra Leone or Liberia. CARICOM [Caribbean Community]...and the group that opposes Aristide, which is tied to the U.S. and to international institutions, are pressuring Foggy Bottom.... The only foreseeable solution is to pressure Aristide so that he may be convinced to step down. Once the president has been removed from office, a rapid military intervention made up of American troops plus others from Caribbean countries, and then OAS can guarantee law and order and establish a government of 'good people,' as they say at Foggy Bottom. The U.S. doesn't want a Somalia in the Caribbean."
DENMARK: "U.S. To Carry The U.N.'s Burden"
Center-right Jyllands-Posten editorialized (2/16): "As usual, there are only two certain losers (in Haiti), the population and democracy. The U.N. will probably cast a glance at the problem before gallantly passing the operation on to the United States. Just like Clinton before him, Bush will not be able to ignore this kind of lawlessness in his own back yard. The U.S. may hesitate, but it looks like it will have to act - on behalf of the United Nations."
FINLAND: "No Peacemaker Found For Haiti"
Leading, centrist Helsingin Sanomat editorialized (Internet version, 2/17): "The U.S. is emphasizing that the current president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who is battling rebels, is a democratically elected head of state. This is true. It is equally true that this former Catholic priest and former favorite of Haitians is today an extremely unpopular and corrupt leader. He is defending his shaky hold on power with violence inflicted by, besides the official police, also unofficial, armed groups.... Aristide has miserably betrayed the hopes that were attached to him when the military dictatorship was toppled one decade ago. Surely he deserves to be toppled, if there would then be realistic hopes of something better.... Haiti's chaotic political history does not, however, encourage one to optimism. The U.S. is suggesting to Canada and the countries in the Caribbean region that they should send police to Haiti to help in preserving order. Such officers could not, however, enter the country uninvited. They would be useful as guardians of the peace for society there only after the crisis is defused. The only power that is capable of entering the country is the U.S., which does not, however, want to bear all the responsibility for pacifying Haiti. After all, the U.S. intervened there a decade ago, and the result was nothing other than the Aristide regime and the current miserable chaos."
SPAIN: "Fear in Haiti"
Left-of-center El Pais editorialized (Internet version, 2/17): "Almost 10 years after U.S. troops invaded Haiti to prop up democracy, the poor Caribbean half-island is once again submerged in chaos, violence and fear.... The 1994 intervention has been of no use, because the effort was not maintained. One of the poorest countries on earth was abandoned to its terrible fate once more. Aristide, the populist leader who had awakened so many hopes, managed only to increase the poverty of the eight million inhabitants of this afflicted nation.... The violence, with a death toll of more than 50 so far, is threatening to destabilize the whole country, which is experiencing serious difficulties distributing food. The international community, starting with Caricom [Caribbean Community] and the Organization of American States [OAS], must take urgent measures to ensure the viability of a democracy which, fundamentally, requires economic development and the means to achieve this. Haiti gives the lie to the current talk of 'nation building.'"
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: "Hait Unrest Calls For Speedy Action"
The English language, expat-oriented Gulf News (Internet Version-WWW) stated (2/18): "Growing unrest in Haiti has still not made too many alarm bells ring. It should. With the growing rebellion against the Jean-Bertrand Aristide regime drawing in exiled paramilitary troops, the nature and extent of violence could become more severe. There are examples of such conflicts spiralling out of control, confining a lumbering international community to, at best, partial damage control. Witness Rwanda. Whether it is ethnic cleansing or civil war, the extent of potential carnage is too painful to comtemplate. Which begs the question, where is the UN? Particularly following US Secretary of State Colin Powell's statement that Washington will accept no outcome that attempts to remove Aristide. What the U.S. should focus on is not the outcome but the chaos that would send tens of millions of refugees streaming into the neighbouring Dominican Republic. A proactive UN might be able to enlist American support for a speedy resolution to the issue."
EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC
PHILIPPINES: "Hands Off Haiti"
Leandro V. Coronel observed in the independent Manila Times (Internet version, 2/23): "George Bush won't touch Haiti. That shows he's not serious about maintaining peace in the world.... Hungry and angry Haitians, disapproving of Aristide's rule, are pouring daily into the streets, calling for his resignation. Violence and anarchy reign.... Life is constant misery for many Haitians. The dissidents are out to get Aristide, through resignation or less passive means.... U.S. President Bush has essentially told Haiti to solve its own problems. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell has said there's 'no enthusiasm' in the United States to get involved in Haiti.... The U.S.'s refusal to help Haiti points out that the Americans aren't really interested in making the world peaceful, only in protecting their own interests. It shows that Bush's preemptive policy of intervening in nations where peace and public welfare are in peril as selective.... Bush would rather send American troops in harm's way to a distant venue like Iraq than send them to a not-too-distant neighbor like Haiti. Haiti lies southeast of the U.S. backdoor. The island of Hispaniola is geographically aligned with Cuba, whose northern tip is only 90 miles away from the southern tip of the United States.... The fate of Haiti has potentially direct ramifications for the United States because of its relative proximity to America. But Bush isn't interested in Haiti. After all, unlike Iraq, Haiti has no oil, only voodoo."
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