Originally: Haiti Is Making Strides after Years of Aristide’s Misrule

  One year ago, the long-suffering nation of Haiti barely avoided a collapse into anarchy when Jean-Bertrand Aristide resigned the presidency and departed the country.

A decade ago, when the U.S. government helped restore him to power, the former Haitian president told his countrymen that he would liberate them from a tradition of corrupt and dictatorial leadership. Instead, his rule was characterized by the arming of street gangs, coddling of criminals and decomposition of state institutions.

Haiti’s interim government and its people are working steadfastly to stabilize the country and establish the conditions for free and fair elections scheduled for the end of this year.

Haiti’s independent electoral council, comprising civic leaders from across the spectrum of Haitian society, is working diligently and demonstrated remarkable unity in drafting a comprehensive electoral decree recently approved by the interim government.

Haiti’s interim government is preparing to launch the national dialogue, designed to bring all Haitians, irrespective of political leanings, into a reconciliation process that will emphasize nonviolence and democratic norms.

The Bush administration is unwavering in its support for Haitians as they seek to recover from the disastrous legacy of Aristide’s misrule. The United States will provide $230 million of the $1 billion pledged at the 2004 donors’ conference. We provided an additional $46 million in September for disaster relief after Tropical Storm Jeanne caused devastating flooding.

U.S. assistance has been used to create jobs, boost exports, generate electricity and vaccinate children. The U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti, established last June, now numbers approximately 7,400 personnel, including troops and police from 41 nations. The Organization of American States and the U.N. mission are collaborating with the electoral council and the interim government in organizing the voter registration and voting process. We are heartened that the nations of the Caribbean will now contribute to that effort. Haitians have demonstrated an amazing resilience and resourcefulness that we are convinced will open a brighter, more-democratic chapter. What is needed is the commitment of the international community to remain engaged in Haiti, to help the Haitian people restore their economy and to build an environment for sustained development that provides opportunities. The path toward justice, democracy and prosperity is one the Haitians should not — and will not — have to make on their own.

ROGER F. NORIEGA, assistant secretary of state, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, Washington, D.C.