Plenty of damage to repair in Haiti

Posted: Thursday, March 04, 2004

There's a lot of damage to repair in Haiti, and it's vital efforts to return a semblance of normalcy begin now. The ouster of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide has dealt a terrible setback to the cause of Haitian civil governance. Aristide was the country's first democratically elected president, and that he had to flee virtually at gunpoint deals a debilitating defeat to democratic efforts in the country, regardless of how one felt about the deposed president.

That said, the people of Haiti, the opposition leaders and the rebels must now recognize and support constitutional leadership. They have no other choice, considering the other option is dictatorship.

Haiti's constitution calls for the Supreme Court's chief justice to assume the presidency if it is vacated. Former Chief Justice Boniface Alexandre has done so. Haitians must respect and acknowledge this transfer of power. ...

The alternative is to continue the violence, retribution and rebellion. That will assuredly lead back to the authoritarian government of the past, a history that helps explain the divisions in Haiti today.

There cannot be a return to government by force. Haitians must reaffirm their support for democracy, regardless of which side they fought for.

South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Fort Lauderdale

March 1

The United States is once again in the nation-building business in Haiti. With former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's exile to the Central African Republic some critics of the White House said Aristide claimed he was kidnapped the United States could not shrug its shoulders at the chaos 700 miles from its shores.

... Certainly, Aristide was a huge disappointment; human rights groups said he had ruled by intimidation, cronyism and violence, allegedly having political enemies murdered. Opponents accuse him of corruption, including pocketing drug money. Tremendous hope and faith were placed in him by his people, and he failed them. ...

The divisions and fragmentations within Haitian society demand that a variety of political voices in Haiti with the exception of terrorizing thugs participate in the debate on the future the country.

The U.N. Security Council has rightly decided to send a U.S.-led multinational force to restore order.

... The rest of the hemisphere is watching.

Los Angeles Times

March 2

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