Originally: Haiti: Defender
I?m joined by the Executive
Director of the HDP; he?s in Washington, D.C.
Adrian Harewood: Some people are making a lot of this meeting that took
place in Ottawa?
James Morrell: U.S. policy, which Canada followed, was to cling to Aristide
virtually to the end, because he seemed to promise stability, and
that?s the goal of U.S. policy in Haiti. At that meeting at Meech Lake,
no real change was made in that perspective, but I think one Canadian
official mused about the eventual need to have U.N. peacekeeping in
Haiti. It didn?t change the fact that the policy was to go with
Aristide. In the very last days before his departure, they were
still trying to get the Haitian democratic sector to agree to have
Aristide finish out his term.
Harewood: How do you explain a group of countries getting together to
talk about Haiti?s future without inviting Haiti to the meeting?
Morrell: I don?t know the particular protocol in that case,
but countries meet all the time.
Harewood: Well, how would you describe Canada?s interests in Haiti then?
Morrell: Canada had supported the last peacekeeping mission in Haiti,
with francophone police, and this time they went in with the U.S. The
effect of the military side this time was basically to keep the
rebels–former armymen and the like–from taking over the palace
after Aristide left.
Harewood: What about the U.S.? What are its interests in Haiti?
Morrell: Its basic interest is stability, to keep the lid on the
place, to keep the refugees from coming.
Harewood: So what do you think were Canadian and American policies
toward Aristide before he fled the country?
Morrell: In the beginning he was elected in 1990 by the vast majority
and so they hoped that this would bring stability. So they restored
him with 22,000 American troops and Canadian troops, in 1994, in
hopes that we?ll have a constitutional regime supported by the people.
Harewood:: So you?re saying he was democratically elected?
Morrell: He was the first time, but unfortunately, Haiti has a long
history of presidential despotism and Aristide was not the man to
break from this, and in the late 90?s he went back to the pattern of
human rights violations and corruption. The second time around he was
not democratically elected; those elections were fraudulent.
Harewood: But some of his supporters say that there observers who
witnessed the elections and that 60% of the total population
Morrell: I was one of those observers for the OAS, and I saw those 60
per cent in our area voting; that was very impressive. But then there
was cheating in the counting of the votes, and a million votes that
went to the non-Aristiders were thrown out so that he could get the
Harewood: Did Jean Bertrand Aristide leave from Haiti voluntarily or
was he pushed out?
Morrell: He was pushed out by the Haitians, not by the foreigners. As
I say, U.S. policy was to stick with him almost until the last day. But
there was an uprising of the civil society which was later joined by
some of his own former thugs and rather than stay in the palace and
be shot, which they would have done, he asked the United States to
fly him out of there, which it did.
Harewood: How successful do you think the MNF mission has been done
to stabilize Haiti?
Morrell: It’s too early to tell because we waited so long to do this,
the problems of Haiti have only grown worse: guns in many people’s
hands, the society has deteriorated, you?ve got drug trafficking, you
have many problems, so it’s too early to tell.
Harewood: What do you think the international community will do next
when it come to Haiti?
Morrell: Well, the most important thing is to have a free and fair
election that can produce a regime that is halfway accepted by the
Haitians themselves. And under this aegis you can begin economic
development, including by the private sector, that our previous speaker
questioned. I don?t see any other basis for it, unfortunately.
Harewood: Are you suggesting that the Haitian people are better off
with the peacekeeping forces that have been sent there?
Morrell: Well, definitely, otherwise I?m afraid that if you had the
other group take over, which they would have without these
peacekeepers, the whole cycle would begin again.
Harewood: Thank you
Morrell: It?s been a pleasure.