U s policy and the democratic movement in haiti
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U.S. Policy and the Democratic Movement in Haiti. U.S. interests in Haiti. Primordial U.S. interests in Haiti are to have a stable government and a country that is not generating massive refugee flows. Elections.

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U s interests in haiti
U.S. interests in Haiti

Primordial U.S. interests in Haiti are to have a stable government and a country that is not generating massive refugee flows.


Elections
Elections

  • U.S. policy-makers correctly perceive that these interests are best obtained by having regular democratic elections inclusive of the opposition, so that conflicts are settled at the polls, not in the streets.


Refugees
Refugees

  • Above all policy-makers want to avoid seeing civil wars, disorders, or highly repressive regimes which generate large numbers of refugees with a claim to political asylum in the United States.


Coincidence of interests
Coincidence of interests

  • These basic interests of the United States may be said to roughly coincide with those of the Haitian people who also yearn for stable, democratic development that might create the conditions for economic progress.


Divergence
Divergence

  • The divergence comes when the United States, in its aversion to disorder, lends too much support to an abusive, corrupt, and narrowly-based ruler in the belief that this will still bring stability.


Intervention
Intervention

  • In these instances, the United States crosses the line from respectful support of a foreign country’s sovereign government to a form of intervention in its internal affairs.


Democratic sector
Democratic sector

  • Objectively, U.S. interests would be better served by supporting the democratic sector, which alone can supply the competent, uncorrupt personnel capable of stabilizing the country.


Difficult choice
Difficult choice

  • But it is very difficult for U.S. policy-makers to make this choice.

  • For them, any deviation from support of the incumbent risks immediate disruption, even if the cost is to drive the problem deeper making it far more unmanageable in the long run.


Attention span of policy makers
Attention span of policy-makers

  • From recent experience, unless Haiti is boiling over, it won’t get the attention of the White House or top policy-makers.

  • The levels of the bureaucracy which do deal with it don’t have the authority to make changes.


Procrastination
Procrastination

  • What is going on here is the very human tendency to postpone dealing with a problem as long as possible.


Deference
Deference

  • Although the United States is not the only foreign actor in Haiti, ultimately all the others defer to it, so U.S. policy may be said to set the parameters.


Role of special interests
Role of special interests

  • While the above considerations of surface stability set the overall course, U.S. policy can also be affected by special interests especially when they obtain a voice in Congress.


Lobbying
Lobbying

  • The Duvaliers began the practice of paid lobbying, and Aristide raised it several notches higher.


Money flow
Money flow

  • There were not only millions of dollars to former members of Congress to lobby their counterparts, but far more lucrative telephone contracts the benefits of which went both to high-ranking Democrats and Republicans, as well as reportedly to Aristide’s own offshore accounts.


Federal lawsuit
Federal lawsuit

  • The exact structure of these schemes was described in a suit brought by the Haitian government in Miami federal court in 2005, and in American press articles.


Pressure
Pressure

  • The effect was to accentuate an already-existing congressional bias for Aristide and to raise the decibel level of congressional pressure on the Bush administration to support him against the rapidly-growing number of domestic enemies he had generated by 2004.


Clinging to the incumbent
Clinging to the incumbent

  • The Bush administration, despite earlier Republican political rhetoric, supported Aristide to the end primarily for reasons of surface stability.


An elected president
An elected president

  • Having an elected president, however poor the elections or the president, still struck policy-makers as an asset.


Icing on the cake
Icing on the cake

  • The fact that such a personality also had the support of a vociferous few in Congress merely added another incentive.


Send the marines
Send the Marines?

  • But in the end the Bush administration refused their demand to send the Marines to protect Aristide against his domestic enemies, because it feared putting the U.S. military in an untenable situation.


Democratic sector1
Democratic sector

  • What this confused combination of policy impulses and pressures did accomplish, however, was to prevent the United States from coming to the full-hearted support of the democratic sector in Haiti which through the Group of 184 and opposition political parties had created the conditions for Aristide’s departure.


Placeholder
Placeholder

  • Instead this sector was shunted aside and a placeholder was used.


Drift
Drift

  • The result was to give Haiti a drifting, anchorless regime when the democratic sector had just offered the possibility of more effective governance with roots in real interest groups such as business and the civil society.


Demoralize
Demoralize

  • This policy choice tended to demoralize both the political parties and the Haitian people who went back to the same sort of electoral choice so many of them had rejected in the streets only two years earlier.


Electoral engineering
Electoral engineering

  • When Préval’s votes fell short of a majority, the United States acquiesced in the manipulation to put him over the top as it felt more comfortable with a familiar figure than the vicissitudes of a second round.


Heavy price
Heavy price

  • The hunger riots of 2008, Haiti’s flagrant unpreparedness against flooding, Préval’s threats against the constitution, and his manipulation of the elections in 2009 all suggest that this short-term peace was once again bought at a heavy long-term price.


Not there yet
Not there yet

  • Washington has yet to perceive this reality.

  • But depending on how this situation develops, it may be forced, as in 2004, to give it consideration.


Rencontre patriotique
Rencontre Patriotique

  • It is in this context that the Rencontre Patriotique of 2009 takes on its full significance.


Rencontre patriotique1
Rencontre patriotique

  • To the extent that it consolidates the democratic sector in Haiti, it eventually presents Washington with another opportunity to make the choice that it should have made in 2004.


Management
Management

  • The kind of competent and dedicated management that this body proposes and has to offer in its personnel is far more in the objective U.S. interest than the disruptive practices of Aristide and Préval.


Still not there
Still not there

  • But U.S. policy-makers are far from seeing this yet.


Haitian people
Haitian people

  • By so clearly spurning the recent election, the Haitian people have already indicated that they, for their part, demand an alternative.

  • They will embrace the noble goals of this conference far sooner than Washington.


The fog of washington
The fog of Washington

  • But even in Washington, enveloped though they are by the fog of habit and timidity, the policy-makers may eventually be brought to see the necessity of the choice.

  • Return to top of Rencontre Patriotique (press Esc after clicking)


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