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17132: (Hermantin) Miami-Herald-Editorial- Crisis in Haiti boils on U.S. doorstep (fwd)

From: leonie hermantin <lhermantin@hotmail.com>

Posted on Wed, Nov. 05, 2003

Crisis in Haiti boils on U.S. doorstep

High hopes for democratic change in Haiti accompanied Jean-Bertrand Aristide
nearly three years ago when he was swept into office on a wave of populist

But those expectations quickly dissipated, replaced by political corruption,
drug trafficking, human-rights abuses, murders of journalists and street
violence that seem to increase in frequency and intensity with each passing
day. In the past six weeks alone, 13 people have been killed and 38 wounded
in roiling demonstrations, riots, police raids and gang-style slayings.

President Aristide alone isn't responsible for all of the turmoil. The
previous administration of President René Preval, an Aristide ally, also was
marked by violence, incompetence and inept leadership; and indeed, dictators
and autocrats have presided over Haiti throughout its history. More to the
point, Haiti's volatile opposition parties sat out the last election, have
refused to accept Mr. Aristide's ascension to president and have actively
stirred up violent protests.

Nevertheless, Mr. Aristide carries the lion's share of responsibility. He is
positioned, as head of state, to stand against corruption, stamp out the
violence, implement change, build bridges to the opposition and facilitate
the international community's help.

For its part, the White House must step up its efforts to support and
strengthen Haiti. Given our history and proximity to Haiti, we will either
act now -- or later when anarchy reigns. For example: After Mr. Aristide was
overthrown in a 1991 military coup during his first term in office, the
United States -- acting on a U.N. mandate -- led a multinational force three
years later to restore constitutional rule. But the bulk of U.S. assistance
in helping Haiti build infrastructure and democratic institutions ended too

Roger F. Noriega, the new assistant secretary of state for western
hemisphere affairs, says the administration is committed to helping Haiti
regain its footing but is reluctant to throw good money after bad.

In fact, the administration should do more now before a larger intervention
is necessary.

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