Originally: Letters to the Editor. International Herald Tribune. Re:
23 rue de la Palissade
Feb. 25, 2004
International Herald Tribune
Re: “Hour of the gunman in Haiti”
IHT editorial of Feb 25, 2004
In its editorial of February 25th, the IHT points out multiple failures of Bertrand Aristide as president of Haiti. Yet, it draws the curious conclusion that the blame to reach a solution to Haiti’s current political crisis lies with the civilian opposition. The civilian opposition has sought compromise for years and only when armed rebellion began to threaten Aristide’s hold on power did he indicate any interest in sharing power.
As American consul general in Port au Prince from 1998 to 2002, I witnessed the betrayal of the hopes that many Haitians originally had for President Aristide and his political movement in the early 1990s. I saw members of the electoral council flee Haiti for their lives when they refused to approve the government’s fraudulent count of votes in the March 2000 legislative elections. I spoke with local politicians whose lives had been threatened and with journalists who had received death threats because they didn’t toe the government’s line.
In the presidential elections in Haiti in late 2000, boycotted by the opposition after the massive fraud earier that year, less than 10% of eligible voters participated. There was more enthusiasm and participation in the elections that gave Charles Taylor the presidency of Liberia and who the USG told last year to step down when civil war reached Monrovia. To support Aristide’s continued tenure as president is to focus on the shadow of democracy and not on its substance.
President Aristide would serve his country well if he showed the statesmanship of a Sanchez de Lozada of Bolivia. By resigning, President Aristide would open the way to the real possiblity of a transitional govenrment representing all poltical movements. Then an international security force would be welcomed to Haiti and would not serve to shore up a failed regime.