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17954: Reid: Sad days for Haiti - Daily News Editorial 1-13-2004 (fwd)

From: Ralph Reid <rafreid@yahoo.com>

Sad days for Haiti
Daily News Editorial 1-13-2004

There was a time when New York mayors visited the three I's - Ireland,
Italy and Israel - to connect with voters who traced their lineage to
those lands. Nowadays, immigration patterns being what they are, mayors
jet off to countries such as Jamaica and Haiti.

No, scratch that. They don't go to Haiti because it has become too
dangerous for safe passage without the backing of an outfit like the
82nd Airborne. Mayor Bloomberg wisely canceled plans to drop in over
the weekend and made do playing a steel drum in Kingston.

Haiti's inability to act as a welcoming host for a dignitary like
Bloomberg brought starkly to the fore the hell the country has endured
under the leadership of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

So, too, a letter sent to Bloomberg by Marjorie-Helene Dejean, a city
computer analyst who visited her homeland last month on the eve of its
bicentennial celebration. "Within 45 minutes of our arrival on Haitian
soil," she warned the mayor, "we were carjacked, abducted, completely
robbed and subject to unspeakable humiliations."

Aristide's reign has been a disaster for Haiti. Elected in 1990, ousted
in a coup and restored to power in 1994 with U.S. military backing,
Aristide embodied the hope that Haitians would inch toward prosperity
as they left tyranny behind.

By many measures, they are as destitute now as they were the day
Aristide took office. The per-capita annual income is $400, and
one-quarter of the gross national product comes from remittances from
Haitians abroad. Aristide faces mounting protests, and pro-government
thugs have taken to beating the opposition. International banks have
withheld $500 million in aid because of the chaos.

Now, Aristide has hit upon a new road to salvation. He is calling on
France to cough up $21.7 billion as reparations for having extorted
ransom from Haiti in exchange for its freedom in the 19th century.
Whatever the justice of Haiti's claim, paying Aristide even a fraction
of the money under these circumstances would be lunacy.

You can e-mail the Daily News editors at voicers@edit.nydailynews.com.
Please include your full name, address and phone number. The Daily News
reserves the right to edit letters. The shorter the letter, the better
the chance it will be used.

Originally published on January 13, 2004

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