Originally: Haiti-U.S. Intervention


   PORT-AU-PRINCE, Sept 19 (AP) — When U.S. troops landed in Haiti nine

years ago Friday, Kesnel Wilson believed they would help his hapless

country recover from years of military-backed rule.

   Today, he feels abandoned as he watches U.S. assistance dwindle and his

poverty-stricken country sink deeper into despair.

   “The United States was right to intervene. But it was wrong to lead us

into believing it would help us rebuild our nation,” said Wilson, a

43-year-old carpenter in Haiti’s crumbling capital.

   President Jean-Bertrand Aristide won a landslide victory in 1991 and

governed for seven months before the Haitian army ousted him in a bloody

coup. Three years later, 20,000 U.S. troops arrived on Sept. 19, restoring

Aristide to power and stemming a Haitian exodus.

   A windfall of U.S. aid came with the intervention. But since Aristide’s

government has fallen out of favor with the United States, none of the aid

has been directed at development.

   The relationship began to fray in 2000, when Aristide’s Lavalas Family

party swept flawed legislative elections. Since then, the government and

opposition have been deadlocked and the opposition has accused Aristide of

attempting to establish a one-man, one-party rule.

   The opposition and civil groups refuse to sit on an electoral council

that will organize legislative elections this year until the government

disarms its partisans, ends judicial impunity and reforms the police

according to two resolutions from the Organization of American States.

   Although opposed to demands that Aristide step down, the United States

has been increasingly critical of the government, saying it is dragging its

feet on implementing the OAS resolutions.

   “All friendships go through changes,” Judith Trunzo, spokeswoman for the

U.S. Embassy in Haiti, said on Friday.

   But U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Roger F. Noriega went a step

further last week.

   “The U.S. intervention to return Aristide in 1994 has ended up a

complete failure, due to the Haitian leaders’ inability and lack of

willingness to move the country along a democratic path,” he said.

   Aristide has blamed the country’s deteriorating economic and political

situation on international “political and economic terrorism.”

   “Most Haitians believed there would be a change in the traditional U.S.

policy of supporting the minority against the majority,” said government

spokesman Mario Dupuy. “But the United States still supports the elite …,

imposing an unjust embargo on international aid and causing the political

crisis to drag on.”

   Some $427 million in international aid poured into Haiti in 1995. It has

steadily dwindled since then, with the United States allocating some $70

million in humanitarian aid this year, and international lenders suspending

aid or grants to demand democratic reforms and stability.

   Meanwhile, Haiti has plunged even deeper into poverty and unrest.

   Most Haitians are jobless or unemployed and live on less than $1 a day.

Income is 40 percent lower than in Nicaragua, the second poorest country in

the hemisphere. Inflation is at 30 percent.

   But it’s also a no-win situation for the United States.

   Haitians either blame the United States for not providing enough support

or for failing to get rid of Aristide, whose government has been accused of

using violence to stem dissent.

   “The United States has let us down,” said tailor Sauveur Pierre, 49,

once a fervent Aristide partisan. He hates the opposition, but his

disappointment is so great he has become apolitical.

   This year he can only afford to send one of his three children to

school. Haitians often still risk their lives to take rickety boats bound

for better economic opportunities in the United States.

   Wilson, meanwhile, says Haiti’s allies have vanished.

   “I was sure the United States would help set the country back on its

feet,” he said. “But life is harder than ever.”