Originally: U.S. Diplomacy Toward Latin America:
Testimony before Subcommmittee on Western Hemisphere of House International Relations Committee
July 27, 2005
Full text (.pdf file)
But elsewhere, improvisation led his administration down blind alleys. . . A pledge to help ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide caused
the administration to invade Haiti in 1994.
Eventually, President Clinton had to reverse those decisions.
In Haiti, U.S. officials believed they could quickly intervene and then hand the situation over to
United Nations peacekeepers to maintain order. In fact, the Clinton Administration?s eagerness
to ensure President Aristide?s personal success led him to misinterpret U.S. actions as a license
to subvert development efforts, politicize the police, and go back to old habits of unleashing
violent mobs against his opponents?a history the Clinton Administration had overlooked.
Aristide broke numerous promises to assistance donors and the Organization of American States,
causing political opponents and foreign donors to distrust him. In 2000, President Clinton
suspended U.S. assistance.
When his regime collapsed, Bush officials refused further support to President Aristide, ushering in a fresh start in Haiti and ending a policy of supporting personalities over institutions.
Short-term thinking has led to sudden impasses. In February 2004, mobs once loyal to Haiti?s
president Aristide joined with thugs from previous governments, forcing him to resign. Rightly
dissatisfied with Aristide?s despotic performance, the Bush Administration chose not to
intervene. Haitian Supreme Court Justice Boniface Alexandre assumed the presidency, and on
March 13, former United Nations official Gerard Latortue replaced Aristide?s prime minister and
named a new cabinet. Some 3,300 peacekeepers arrived to help reconstruct Haiti?s tiny police
force, collect weapons, and secure humanitarian aid. Yet a year and a half later, Haiti?s interim
authority lacks adequate supervision and promised aid from donor nations. Haitians are only
marginally better off and hardly prepared to elect a new government.