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To the Editors of the Christian Science Monitor:
But the biggest blame for this crisis lies with Aristide himself who, despite his populist rhetoric of uplifting Haiti's poor, let them down by his inability to share power and to bring about reforms. In the end, he overthrew himself by not living up to his professed ideals.
I believe the word is 'sanctimonious'. Do these people ever read
the news? His economic policy was engineered in Washington: there's no manuvering for weak nations dependent on trade, there's no trade for nations that don't follow the rules, and there's nothing but a growing dependence on ag imports and weak export manufacturing for nations that follow the rules, leaving the poor with nothing but landlessness, destitution and urban squalor. There's no debt relief for the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, there's no assistance to a country that capitulated to tarriff reductions in order to recieve debt relief and destroyed its ag sector in the process, there's nothing Aristide could have done besides return to the 1990 economic platform or something like it: you know, the one that resulted in a Washington-backed coup.
Sharing power? Bring about reforms? The reforms committed to by Preval and Aristide in the 90s amounted to little more than handing Hatian elites, the "opposition" and its foreign backers, all the power they could ask for, just not enough to not be branded as another Castro.
In October 1996 President Preval signed structural adjustment agreements with the IFIs that outlined his government’s commitment to cut government workers, increase taxes on the poor, provide subsidies to assembly industries and export agriculture, decrease tariffs to near zero (including those which provide some protection to domestic food production), and partially privatize nine state enterprises. Despite two years of promises and rhetoric about the importance of dialogue and participation with all sectors of civil society, and despite the fact that the SAP will shape the future of Haiti for years to come, citizens were never consulted in its formulation.
Sounds like democracy in action.
Why are we playing the blame game? Because the mistakes of the past are destined to be repeated, the status quo has not changed. With or without Aristide - something of concern only because of the gigantic proportions of the hypocrasy involved in overthrowing an elected government after being driven to defend an act of ruthless aggression soley on the basis of "bringing democracy" to Iraq - there's little reason to have any hope for Haiti. Did Aristide have a solution? Who knows, his policies weren't his own with regard to the economy, and with that out of the way little else remained besides the sole benefit of having control of the state: corruption. And now we watch as history is chewed up and spit back at us.
By tolerating criminals, buffering the elite, imposing economic policies that sow inequality, and lending the United Nations' moral legitimacy for such flawed solutions, we foreigners helped ensure the continuity of Haiti's real nightmare: the banal and often deadly realities of normal daily life. This is not to say that foreigners are responsible for Haiti's problems - or for solving them. But until the power relations behind our peacekeeping and human-rights efforts are challenged, and until our perspective is reexamined, the benefits of the international community's work in places like Haiti will be moot.
--Catherine Orenstein, Human Rights Observer for the joint United Nations/Organization of American States International Civilian Mission to Haiti, 1998.
So screw you guys, I'm going home.
:: posted by buermann @ 2004-03-01 15:25:15 CST |