Bill Clinton’s trip to
In fact, what is fascinating about the
supporters of Mr. Aristide — now have for their president.
This is especially evident among intellectuals and elites, who increasingly write and speak about Mr. Aristide as a man that cultivates a culture of fear and has destroyed a nascent democracy.
At least part of the resentment about the
does he feel the need to safeguard his interests in the post-Aristide era,” the MPSN asked.
During his one-day visit Mr. Clinton declared, “I think there should be a humnitarian exception to the embargo on aid,” according to the Associated Press. A call for funneling large sums of money into any place so notoriously corrupt should raise eyebrows. But this case creates an even greater miasma. Perhaps not coincidentally, Mr. Aristide’s wife Mildred, who calls the shots in
Another point of contention for Haitians was Mr. Clinton’s use of the term “embargo” to describe the freeze on aid. It is rhetoric that Mr. Aristide is also fond of but it is inaccurate; an embargo
is a prohibition against commerce. Moreover, the freeze could be lifted today if Mr. Aristide would comply with some minimal levels of democratic civility. Unfortunately Mr. Clinton did not mention this.
For ardent defenders of Mr. Aristide such as the Congressional Black Caucus or for
The generalized disgust with the Mr. Aristide’s tactics is by no means limited to the sphere of his ideological enemies. Plenty of critics today were once supporters. In the New York Review of
Books, Peter Dailey, who describes himself as a journalist who was sympathetic to Mr. Aristide in the early 1990s, has written a two-part review of “Haiti’s Predatory Republic: The Unending
Transition to Democracy” by Robert Fatton, Jr. Among other things, the Fatton book traces the historical roots of
In Part I of his review, on March 13 Mr. Dailey explains what Bill Clinton sems to still not understand. “Aristide’s opponents turned out to be neither the entrenched economic elite nor the die-hard elements of the old Duvalieriste party, as almost everyone in 1994 might have anticipated, but the social democratic-constitutionalist wing of the Lavalas movement, the left-wing-populist coalition that first brought Aristide to power, which was mobilized into
opposition by the Aristide government’s increasingly corrupt and authoritarian character.”
As Mr. Aristide’ party broke apart in the mid-1990s a deep rift grew between himself and the idealists who helped him to power. Writes Mr. Dailey: “Aristide was now opposed by veterans of the anti-Duvalier struggle and almost all of the left, persons who had stood with him in the Eighties and fought for his return from exile. Among the disaffected former supporters are virtually all of
“By 1999, it seemed to many Haitians that Aristide, who once personified Haitian aspirations for democracy, now represented Haitian democracy’s biggest obstacle,” Mr. Dailey says.
Nor are Aristide critics limited to
peace and prosperity.
“Instead, we have seen escalating political violence. Illegal arrests, arbitrary detentions, disappearances, killings, crackdowns on political opponents, and restraints on free speech and free assembly are all too common. In the last six months, we have seen new waves of violence, targeting journalists, students, human-rights activists, and the government’s political opponents.
Those who commit these harsh acts of brutality and intolerance often operate with impunity, and in some cases, they appear to be acting with government support.”
By now even a zombie would recognize how thoroughly discredited Mr. Aristide is and how critical international pressure is to altering the situation. Which raises the question of why Mr. Clinton doggedly pursues his cozy relationship with the Haitian president.