Originally: A Time For Decisive U.S Leadership
Ending The Political Impasse in Haiti: A Time For Decisive U.S Leadership
By Parnell Gérard Duverger
June 24, 2003
When the Organization of American States (OAS) convened on June 8, 2003 for its 33rd general assembly meeting in Santiago, Chile, its member states were expected to articulate the hemispheric institution?s response to the continued defiance, by the Government of Haiti, of their resolutions 806 and 822, which call for the administration of de-facto president Jean Bertrand Aristide to implement a number of confidence-building measures designed to encourage Haiti?s political parties, and the country?s fearful and reluctant electorate, to enter a new electoral process under the auspices of a brutal Lavalas regime that is now widely known for its general intolerance of political dissent, its violence against political opponents and members of the independent press, as well as its casual, open and in-your-face use of dirty tricks to steal elections.
Frustrations Among Haitians
Haitians, at home and in the diaspora, held their breath as they awaited yet another international decision on their troubled nation, wondering whether the hemispheric organization would find a way to continue its now routine whitewash of Mr. Aristide?s increasingly daring misdeeds and defiance of the international community, or whether the Bush administration would succeed in leading the OAS into taking a principled stand for representative democracy, individual freedoms, the rule of law, human rights and good governance in our hemisphere, with an unequivocal repudiation of the governmental obscenities served daily to the world by a brutal dictator, and his cohort of fiercely anti-American, anti-democratic and violent neo-communist bandits, who still insist on calling themselves ?a democratic government? in Haiti. Frustrated Haitians, everywhere, got both: the shameful OAS whitewash of Mr. Aristide and a hopeful call, by U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, for a review of the OAS role in Haiti if, by September 2003, Mr. Aristide and his cronies persist in perverting the democratic order in that country.
OAS: A Roadmap To Failure in Haiti
For many years now, the Organization of American States (OAS) has been squandering its prestige and credibility in Haïti, in the senseless and fruitless pursuit of a set of conflicting policies of support for President Jean Bertrand Aristide and the simultaneous promotion of democratic governance and values in the poorest country of the Western Hemisphere. This, of course, remains an impossible task, simply because the concept, values, and institutions of a representative system of democratic government espoused by most member states of the OAS, as expressed in the institution?s democratic charter, are inconsistent with those of the ?People?s Democratic Republics? of Castro?s Cuba, Khadafy?s Lybia and the defunct Soviet Union, that are the models on which Mr. Aristide has fashioned his one man, one party rule.
In a long string of missions too numerous to count, OAS bureaucrats have been busy ?restoring democracy? or ?bringing the democratic process back on track? in Haiti, at least since September 1991, when Haïtians first dismissed president Aristide, a former catholic priest and violent proponent of the neo-marxist theology of liberation, because he was more interested in initiating a class war as a prelude to establishing a brutal dictatorship of the extreme left, than in waging war on the evils of poverty and economic backwardness, in his nation. The OAS missions in Haiti never stopped since, becoming even more numerous and frequent after May 2000, in response to yet one more political crisis Mr. Aristide created after he used a submissive and corrupt Haitian Electoral Council, as well as the violent groups of thugs known as ?chimè? to gain control of Haiti?s parliament, before bullying his way, one more time in December 2000, to Haiti?s presidential palace. OAS resolutions 806 and 822 offered some hope to solve this new and enduring crisis but have been sabotaged by Mr. Aristide?s usual gamesmanship, with the misguided support of some, especially in a small number of CARICOM countries.
An Issue of Credibility
Mr. Aristide?s gamesmanship rests on his belief that (1) since he began his political career as a catholic priest, he has never lost a single opportunity to signal, by speeches and deeds, his intentions to establish in Haiti a ?People?s Democratic Republic? fashioned on the old Soviet Union and Castro?s Cuba, (2) the international community, led by the Clinton administration, was fully aware of his political agenda, as it bestowed upon him all the assistance he needed to double-talk, lie and trick his way back to political power in Haiti in 1994, with the military support of over 20,000 U.S. troops, (3) a deal, even if silent or tacit, had therefore been reached with the international community to accept the emergence of another Cuban-styled regime in the Caribbean region, which allowed him (Aristide) to push his real and well known political agenda for a People?s Democratic Republic in Haiti, as long as he would continue his clever double-talk about ?democracy? in official speeches, as the basic wrapping material for the on-going campaign of lies and deceits served to Haitian and international public opinions, (4) having helped him knowingly, deliberately and skillfully, and for so many years, to reach both his overt and occult agendas, neither the OAS, nor the majority of personalities forming the Convergence, as the ?official opposition? is called in Haiti, could now be serious in demanding truly democratic reforms through a return to the concept, values and institutions of a representative system of democratic government, anchored on the rule of law as well as respect for individual freedoms and human rights. In other words, neither the OAS, nor the ?Convergence? opposition or the ?International Community?, enjoys any credibility with Mr. Aristide.
Thus, Mr. Aristide will do nothing today, tomorrow or ever to comply with OAS resolutions 806 and 822, since he cannot and will not take seriously the OAS, or any other international body for that matter, believing as he must that the context, mode and ways of his triumphant return to political power in Haiti in 1994, implied a tacit acceptance by all parties involved at that time, including the OAS, of his peculiar brand of ?Pè Lebrun (neck-lacing) democracy? as well as his lawless and brutal methods for governing.
The Costs of Non-Compliance
Could there ever be sanctions for his non-compliance? Mr. Aristide has no previous experience of sanctions ever being even considered against him, not when he encouraged the neck-lacing of his political opponents during the early months of his first term as president, not when he violated repeatedly his country?s constitution by tampering publicly with the independence of Haiti?s democratic institutions, not when he ignored his obligations under resolution OAS 822, 806 and their predecessors, not when he repudiated the Washington Accord by which Mr. René Theodore would have become his appointed prime minister, not when he refused to meet with General Raoul Cedras at Governor?s Island, after the latter responded positively to an explicit invitation by the international community for such a meeting, not when he violated his obligations under the Governor?s Island Agreement by reneging on his pledge to grant a general amnesty to members of the Haitian military, not when he undermined the government of his appointed prime minister, Mr. Robert Malval, not even after the stench of the murdered bodies of hundreds of his political opponents, journalists and hundreds more of ordinary Haitians, began to reach foreign capitals, including Washington, D.C.. A president of the United States, Mr. Bill Clinton, even paid Mr. Aristide a congratulatory state visit less than 72 hours after the spectacular assassination of the Haitian president?s most prominent political opponent: Mrs. Mireille Durocher Bertin. Today, Mr. Aristide?s general response to key demands of OAS resolution 822, such as the arrest of Mr. Metayer and others or the nomination of an acceptable leadership for the Haitian National Police, points to his belief, well founded on his experience, that there will never be a price to be paid for his non-compliance.
The Benefits of Non-Compliance
But, what if the OAS finally wakes up one day, and actually metes out its harshest possible sanction against Mr. Aristide?s violent misrule: a suspension of Haiti?s membership in the hemispheric institution? Could this be what Mr. Aristide is really looking for: an opportunity to get the OAS and everybody else off his back, so that he can proceed, like Cuba?s Castro, to enjoy the unimpeded exercise of absolute dictatorial powers during the next 40 years or more, to the not so secret joy of those, even in our midst in this hemisphere, who can?t wait to celebrate the opening of a ?second front?, so close to Cuba, against the United States? Mr. Castro has so far succeeded in forcing Cubans to endure almost half of a century of OAS membership suspension and other privations. Mr. Aristide is well equipped already to do the same to Haitians.
Has the OAS learned anything in Haiti?
Mr. Aristide is no democrat. In fact, Mr. Aristide has perverted the very concept of democracy, as it is now understood in the overwhelming majority of countries around the world in this era of human rights, and in all countries of our hemisphere except Cuba and Haiti. Mr. Aristide remains his country?s major roadblock to a democratic system of representative government and the development of free economic markets, without which no hope exists for economic development in Haiti.
With its stubborn unwillingness, so far, to recognize the new bloodthirsty dictator of Haiti for what he truly is, the OAS has painted itself into a difficult political corner, from which it is unlikely to emerge without fully acknowledging the inescapable Haïtian domestic political realities that it tried so hard to push into oblivion for so many years. This lesson is now being driven home to the OAS, as major Haïtian political forces continue to band together to free their nation, once again, from Mr. Aristide?s corrupt and violent grip. To this new development, the OAS has responded by warning Haitians that removing their tyrant by force will not be acceptable. This is a warning that the people of Haiti must not only ignore, but also recognize as indicative of their country?s duty and justification for reevaluating its membership into a misguided hemispheric organization intent on validating the misrule of a bloodthirsty tyrant, at the expense of a suffering population. For, the sovereignty of Haiti as a nation rests with its people, and if the people of Haiti feels that Mr. Aristide must be removed by any means necessary, then there sovereign will should be respected, including by the OAS. If some members of the OAS or CARICOM are attracted to Mr. Aristide?s perverted notions of democracy and style of governing, let them welcome him as their guest and adviser on how to build their own dysfunctional society, for it must be what they aspire to. As for Haitians, they have rejected Mr. Aristide?s undemocratic ways and, whether the OAS likes it or not, the people of Haiti should use whatever means necessary to remove the unwanted tyrant who accessed the presidency through electoral fraud and violent intimidation, and uses the brutal force of his ?chime? to remain in power.
The long list of political murders, the continued beating of peaceful demonstrators, the violent disruptions of constitutionally guaranteed political meetings of rival political parties, the self-exiled of a long string of public officials because of threats against their lives after they refused to caution illegal and immoral activities, the lies to the OAS about a loan agreement with the country?s commercial banks to clear arrears owed to the IDB, the rice scandal, the money stolen from depositors in the Credit Coop system, the fear and subservience of appointed public officials waiting for an opportunity to run for their lives, the transformation of the country into a lawless transshipment point for hard drugs, the ruse and deceit in faking compliance with OAS resolutions, the rising waves of Haitian refugees into the United States, the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas, and God knows where else, what more do the OAS and CARICOM need to realize and fully understand that there exists circumstances that challenge our civilized world?s preference for dialogue in resolving conflicts, or test our resolve in confronting the evils of tyranny? Has the OAS learned anything in Haiti?
A time for decisive U.S. leadership
It is time to end the madness in Haiti. The total and absolute perversion of the ideals, values, principles and modus operandi of the democratic system of representative government, as well as the lawlessness, in today?s Haiti, cannot be allowed to continue unchallenged, putting at risk the democratic achievements painfully obtained in our hemisphere during the last fifteen years or so. Like an infectious and deadly virus, the Haiti situation imperils the development of a truly democratic culture in our hemisphere, while posing formidable new challenges to American principles and interests in the Americas. Having emerged from the cold war as the world?s unique and unchallenged global superpower, the United States of America should not allow Mr. Aristide and his cronies, within and without Haiti, to redefine democracy for the good people of our hemisphere. Let there be no doubt that we are prepared to commit military force to the defense of the democratic system of representative government, as well as the defense of American principles and values of decency, fairness, human rights, individual freedoms, political pluralism, private property, free economic markets, good governance, justice and equal opportunity, as this new American century begins to deliver its promises of peace, stability and economic prosperity to a welcoming world.
Two weeks ago, at the 33rd general assembly meeting of the OAS, Secretary of State Colin Powell called for a reevaluation of the role of the organization in Haiti if, by September of this year, the government of Haiti continues to make a mockery of resolutions 806 and 822. When this deadline expires, let it be clear for all that, once again, the United States remains strong and steadfast in its resolve to assume its world leadership responsibilities, as the sole, unrivaled and unchallenged global superpower. The United States should take the lead in helping Haitians achieve a regime change, and facilitate the emergence of a transitional government, secured by the presence of an international military force, with an action plan that includes rescuing the democratic process, completing a serious disarmament program, reestablishing the rule of law, and organizing honest, fair and credible elections. Since a serious proposal to that effect has already been articulated in recent months by the ?Haiti Democracy Project?, and appears to enjoy broad support in Haiti, we hope that it can and will be fine-tuned to receive full bipartisan support in Washington.
June 24, 2003