Lift sanctions to help Haiti solve problems
VOICE OF THE PEOPLE (letter). February 05, 2004
By Michelle Karshan, Foreign press liaison, National Palace.
Haiti — It is commendable that the Chicago Tribune saw fit to take a position on the current impasse in Haiti ("Elusive democracy in Haiti," Editorial, Jan. 24), and that your position appears to support democracy.
The notion, however, that it might be a "valid option" to pressure President Jean Bertrand Aristide to resign if there were a "suitable successor" is inconsistent with democratic principles and Haiti's 1987 Constitution.
The opposition has refused to participate in the formation of an electoral council, which would oversee new elections necessary for the functioning of a parliament. The terms have expired for a portion of the parliamentarians, leaving Parliament not shuttered, as you said, but unable to function without the required quorum.
Democracy has definitely taken hold in Haiti and has come far in its few years since the restoration of democracy with Aristide's return in 1994. Aristide laid down the brutal Haitian army and created Haiti's first civilian police force.
The opposition has the right to demonstrate, when in compliance with requirements for a permit; journalists openly make commentaries against the government; and the country has already gone through several rounds of democratic elections.
Aristide has called upon the Haitian government to reinforce measures that would further guarantee the liberty of people to demonstrate. Haiti's police force was recently praised by both the U.S. ambassador and the Organization of American States for its conduct in providing security to those demonstrating in opposition to the government.
Aristide still enjoys enormous popularity among the Haitian people and throughout the world. It is under Aristide that Haiti met all the requirements to become a full member of the Caribbean Community (Caricom) and it is committed to helping Haiti strengthen its democracy. Haiti is successfully collaborating with numerous countries and international organizations in the areas of education, commerce, trade, medical care, etc.
Aristide has consistently invited the opposition to sit down together and participate in the oversight of elections. The anti-Aristide camp, which represents a small minority in Haiti, refuses to participate in any elections because they know they cannot gain power through a participatory and democratic process.
Immediately following the recent Caricom meeting in Haiti, in which the Caricom leaders who are helping mediate the crisis were seeking a peaceful and constitutional resolution between all parties, the opposition announced their intention to continue to paralyze the country in an effort to overthrow Haiti's president.
Your editorial fails to mention the vast number of violent acts committed by the opposition, including lynchings, assassinations, terrorizing schoolchildren, forcing schools and hospitals to close, and more.
Only through the lifting of economic sanctions will Haiti be able to efficiently address serious problems plaguing the nation, such as drug trans-shipping, poverty, expanding access to potable water, education and health care.
From the Haiti Dream Keeper Archives