By Gregory François

(Sun-Sentinel)—I read Tomas Monnay’s Jan. 4 column with great interest. Although I agree with several of his points, I think he has not fairly portrayed some of the key elements of
Haiti‘s current political situation. He pointed out — correctly — that most of the same political and socio-economic conditions that led to his departure remain the same today: injustice, rampant crime, hunger, high level of unemployment, lack of infrastructure, persecutions against journalists and political activists, and so on.

But who is responsible for this today?

He seems to minimize Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s responsibility in bringing our nation to its worst condition ever. On the other hand, he points the finger at the political opposition for its refusal to participate in any political compromise with Aristide, thereby “making it virtually impossible for anything good to occur.”

It is important to point out that the economic sanctions referred to were not a consequence of “political infighting, coupled with lack of intolerance among political foes.” Instead, they were a direct consequence of Aristide’s refusal to address the electoral fraud accusations made by the Organization of American States and the
United States concerning the legislative elections of 2000.

I ask: Who has been in power since the mid-’90s? Who has been accused of egregious human rights violations and widespread corruption? Who has broken the promises made to the Haitian people concerning improvement of their social and economic conditions? Who has repeatedly failed to live up to engagements made to the international community represented by the OAS? Who has set up a network of armed gangs to crack down on anti-government protests and kill political activists?

The answer to all these questions: Jean-Bertrand Arisitide and his Lavalas Party.

The opposition is right to demand his resignation, because his government is not working in the interest of the Haitian people. In normal conditions, an impeachment process would have been initiated by the parliament. But what can one expect from a legislative body devoted to Aristide? Parliament, the police, city councils, even the court system have all become auxiliaries of Lavalas.

What electoral campaigns can take place when opposition groups are not even allowed to demonstrate peacefully and are routinely attacked by rock-throwing, gun-shooting thugs loyal to Arisitide, or beaten up and gassed by the police, which has been turned into a private militia?

How can one put the blame on the political opposition that is the only force left to defend the rights of the Haitian people?

And how can we not blame the
United States, which, after re-installing Aristide in 1994 as a champion of democracy, has turned away from the numerous blatant human rights violations, widespread corruption and the politicization of the new U.S.-trained police force?

How can we not blame the OAS, which — after having denounced the electoral fraud of May 2000, and witnessing countless attacks on civil liberties — is still trying to impose its view that Aristide should finish his term, and that the opposition must negotiate with him, their bully?

How many Haitians must continue to risk their lives trying to flee their country? How many citizens must continue to be persecuted? How many crimes by government officials must go unpunished?

It is true that many Haitian leaders need to repent because they have failed to put into place the democratic institutions that were needed at the end of the Duvalier era. I forgive them because many of them have recognized their mistakes and seem to be working to fix them. But I cannot forgive Aristide, who carried the hopes of an entire generation, but has revealed himself to be an impostor. The challenge now is to put down the structures that will prevent such a tragedy from happening again.

Gregory François resides in