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24810: Hermantin (News) U.N. needs injection of reality
leonie hermantin <email@example.com>
U.N. needs injection of reality
By Nancy Roc
April 18, 2005
Every day, it is clearer that ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide has
left a disastrous heritage: Haiti is "a quasi-failed state" as The
Washington Post wrote in its April 5 editorial. It also rightly underlined
that: "Sadly, U.S. policy hasn't changed much either. The Bush
administration still aspires to delegate Haiti's troubles to other countries
or international organizations such as the United Nations and the
Organization of American States. One direct result of this policy is the
continued insecurity, since the Brazilian-led U.N. force of 7,400 has lacked
the capability or willpower to disarm the thugs."
The Post concluded by stating that "the Bush administration still resists
accepting the obvious: that deeper U.S. involvement in Haiti is inevitable.
… The only recourse … later … may be the Marines."
It is urgent that the U.S. policymakers as well as the U.N. Security Council
understand that an accurate look on the field must be acquired. Indeed, the
Haitians have been stunned to hear Brazilian Lt. Gen. Heleno Pereira, of the
U.N. forces in Haiti, often linking the violence to "social injustice," a
characteristic of the country's history for the past 200 years. This is an
erroneous and dangerous lecture.
A major part of Aristide's heritage was the financing and creation of
heavily armed gangs. Violence in Haiti may be partially due to social
injustice, but it is also -- and this has to be clearly understood by the
partners in the rebuilding of our nation -- highly political, commanded and
co-opted by the old regime. The refusal to admit that reality can only
contribute to a new failure of the U.N. in Haiti. In addition, the lack of
efficiency and strength from the transitional government has worsened the
violence by lack of action.
Haiti is often described as an ungovernable country. Haitians can help the
international community to achieve democracy with a more accurate sense of
their needs. They cannot do so if the U.N. force has no institutional
partner other than a government that has failed to restore order and fight
the corrupt system left by Aristide. They cannot do so when the U.N. force
commander recently equated the use of force with "repression" and refused to
employ it against armed thugs.
Haitians are tired of the violence and their misery. The country they once
knew is gone for good. The only exit from another catastrophe is not to
apply an "imported democracy" scheme, but to work together toward the future
with true knowledge of the Haitian reality. This can only be done if the
U.N. hears the voices throughout institutional partners which are
independent from the Haitian government and preferably linked to civil
society and human rights groups. Hearing and acting with true Haitian
democrats could avoid not only catastrophe, but also another intervention of
the U.S. Marines. Indeed, the latter never has been, nor will be, a solution
for Haiti's distress.
Nancy Roc is a prize-winning political journalist and author of three books
of political analysis.
Copyright © 2005, South Florida Sun-Sentinel