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25369: Hermamtin(news)Poverty, poor policing, lack of aid share blame for Haiti's woes (fwd)
From: leonie hermantin <email@example.com>
Posted on Sat, Jun. 11, 2005
Poverty, poor policing, lack of aid share blame for Haiti's woes
What accounts for the latest increase in violence in Haiti?
Answer from Dan Erikson, director for Caribbean Projects at the Inter-American
Dialogue: Haiti's recent upswing in violence is driven by a combination of
economic desperation, inadequate policing and the prevalence of small arms
throughout the country. The near-total breakdown of the judicial system has
left many criminals on the streets and contributed to the impression that there
are no legal consequences for violent behavior. In addition, the Haitian
government has declined to pursue many of the gang members and former military
leaders who killed dozens of police officers during the ouster of (President
Jean-Bertrand) Aristide last year, thereby setting the overall tone of
impunity. The U.S. decision to evacuate embassy personnel from Haiti delivered
a distinct vote of no confidence to the Brazil-led peacekeeping mission that
has patrolled the country since last year. This is doubly unfortunate because
it undermines the U.N. position in Haiti while signaling that the U.S. is
seeking to disengage even further from the single most important
democracy-building effort in this Hemisphere.
Answer from Steve Johnson, Latin America policy analyst at the Heritage
Foundation: It's hard to imagine how Haiti's security situation can improve in
time for elections without functioning public institutions: a larger, better
trained police force; a judiciary that works, and a satisfactory penal system
resistant to raids and breakouts. The political will is there within the
interim government. But the contributions from donor nations have been woefully
inadequate since pledges were made nearly a year ago. Once again, interested
parties have regarded Haiti as a turn-key operation instead of a long-term
project. Supervision and follow-through of assistance efforts as well as advice
to incipient governing authorities are crucial. After a competent rescue from
the wreckage that former President Jean Bertrand-Aristide left behind, donors
have shirked some of their responsibilities.''
Answer from James Morrell, executive director of the Haiti Democracy Project:
This time around, most of the violence is the work of the pro-Aristide gangs.
He is sending the word from his all-too-vocal exile in South Africa that he
must be dealt in as a major player or he will drown the elections in violence.
The response of the United Nations and Bush administration is to send a few
hundred more soldiers, an incremental decision that avoids more fundamental
issues. The U.S. ambassador, James B. Foley, recently said of MINUSTAH, ''a
plan is needed, a strategy; there is also a need for action.'' Exactly the same
could be said of U.S. policy.
Last November, the International Crisis Group recommended clamping down on the
conditions of Aristide's exile. Mr. Aristide should be given a vacation on a
game ranch well out of cell-phone range.
Portions of Inter-American Dialogue's Latin America Advisor run each Wednesday