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Date: Wed, 1 Dec 1999 22:24:55 -0600 (CST)
From: Haiti_Progres <editor@haiti-progres.com>
Subject: This Week in Haiti 17:37 12/1/99
Article: 83438
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Message-ID: <bulk.23866.19991202091543@chumbly.math.missouri.edu>

A UN-ilatural extension

Haiti Progres, This Week in Haiti,
Vol. 17, no. 37, 1-7 December 1999

What a joke. In November 1997, U.N. and Haitian government officials made stern assurances that U.N. troops would be deployed in Haiti for only one more year. They made the exact same assurances, even more vigorously, in November 1998. Now, once again, less than 12 hours before the expiration of the U.N. troop mandate on Nov. 30, the U.N. Security Council has voted to extend the U.N. Civilian Police Mission in Haiti (MIPONUH) for another three and a half months.

But this year, there is one important difference. The Security Council acted unilaterally, without a formal request for extension from the Haitian government. Indeed, President René Préval stated less than two weeks ago on Nov. 19 that the MIPONUH will end at the end of the month and said he had asked the U.N. for technical assistance from technicians who would be without arms or uniforms.

Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis was suffering from the same misconception that the 300 soldiers of the MIPONUH were going home. Thus, for your government, there is no possibility of renewing the mandate of the MIPONUH (...) again? Alexis was asked by a Radio Haiti reporter just days ago. There is no chance the mandate will be renewed, Alexis replied.

But, of course, he was wrong, because the United States does what it wants with the U.N. Security Council, despite its continuing non-payment of about $2 billion in back dues to the financially- strapped world body.

Last week reports began to leak out that the U.S. and Canada were concocting a behind-closed-doors deal in the Security Council to extend the MIPONUH's mandate until March 15, 2000. Not coincidentally, this is only four days before the first round of national elections now scheduled for March 19, 2000. It is clear that the U.S. does not want to leave its Haitian children alone to carry out an election without some armed supervision. Especially when those children might make the wrong choice and vote for partisans and allies of former President Jean Bertrand Aristide, whom Washington would like to weaken (the Democrats) or block altogether (the Republicans) when he seeks reelection in November 2000. U.S. ruling circles are uncomfortable, at the very least, with the criticisms of neoliberalism which Aristide has made in recent years.

Resolution 1277 states that the Security Council decides to continue MIPONUH in order to ensure a phased transition to an International Civilian Mission for Support in Haiti (MICAH) by 15 March 2000. Amazingly, the Security Council is talking about a phased transition to a new mission which has not even been approved by the General Assembly. The MICAH will supposedly be an unarmed and non-uniformedmission which will integrate judicial reform, human rights and police training, and development programs. Only later this week will it be proposed to the General Assembly.

Perhaps the U.S. presumes that it can bully and bribe the 188- member nations in the Assembly in the same way it manipulates the 15-member Security Council. But perhaps it will not be as easy. Many nations are fed up with the U.S. selectively and selfishly using the U.N. for its foreign policy goals, especially when it is free-loading.

Fourteen nations voted yes for Security Council Resolution 1277 but there was one abstention. Russia was scandalized that the Security Council could vote for an extension of the MIPONUH when Haiti had made no formal request for it.

Indeed, even the generally staid U.N. press corps was aware that something was amiss. In a Nov. 29 press briefing, one journalist asked the Secretary-General's spokesman Fred Eckhard if MIPONUH was different from the mission without arms and without uniforms requested by President René Préval in a Nov. 8 letter to Secretary-General Kofi Annan. My understanding is that what is being considered by the Council and the Assembly now has the support of President Preval, Eckhard responded. Not exactly a ringing affirmative.

Another question: to what extent is the unilateral extension an expression of distrust of Préval? In the past two weeks, the Haitian president has started to talk the talk of his predecessor and would-be successor, Aristide. On Dec. 19, Préval attended the inauguration of the Jean Marie Vincent high school in Caradeux along with Aristide, and called on the Haitian people to elect on March 19 a Lavalas parliament, Lavalas mayors, Lavalas regional councils, for the Lavalas to continue to sweep the upcoming elections. This was the first time since his inauguration in February 1996 that Préval had explicitly and formally allied himself with Aristide and his party, the Fanmi Lavalas.

Préval then criticized the evils of globalization and the gap between rich and poor countries which is continuing to grow each day, and if we don't watch out, the rich in Haiti will always get richer and the poor will always get poorer. He blamed French colonialism for Haiti's present-day poverty saying that they used to call Haiti the Pearl of the Antilles because it was the richest country, but now it is the poorest and that is in large part due to colonization.

Then on his Nov. 27 return from the second summit of the nations of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific in Santo Domingo, Préval declared that the European countries had to recognize the unfavorable treatment which history has given today's underdeveloped countries and the preferential treatment history has given them, and accept to correct history. With respect to Haiti's foreign debt, which Préval has tried unsuccessfully to double from about $1 billion to over $2 billion, he declared they owe us, we don't owe them. He said that those countries which have accumulated such riches for decades off our backs, now they have to clearly say that they will correct history so as to put all nations on an equal footing.

Granted, all of this sounds rather naive. And it's just words. During his administration Préval has pursued a neoliberal policy which has ensured, more than any other period in Haitian history, that the rich have gotten richer and the poor poorer. Nonetheless, in this unipolar age, Washington is very intolerant of any nationalist or anti-imperialist rhetoric, even if demagogic.

The displeasure of Washington with Préval for his nationalist posturing alongside Aristide can be measured by the acerbic tone of mainstream press articles. Don Bohning in the Nov. 29 Miami Herald, one of the most reactionary U.S. dailies, called Préval's a de facto government. Most of Bohning's scorn is aimed at Aristide, however, who he paints as a politician plotting his return to the presidency in 2001 from a walled compound near the international airport.

Meanwhile, the New York Times turned to Colin Granderson, head of the International Civilian Mission in Haiti (MICIVIH) in a Nov. 26 article. He has abandoned his previous prudent neutrality, perhaps because the MICIVIH appears to be packing its bags on Dec. 31. There is a lot of concern about what is happening with the police and if they are going to be destabilized or fall into the clutches of Aristide, Granderson was quoted as saying. 1999 has been a bad year, he told the Nov. 15 Los Angeles Times. It all started off with the disastrous decision of the president to dissolve Parliament, and basically it has been downhill from there. Disastrous decision? The Parliament expired as stipulated by law. Parliamentarians had even signed a vow that they would step down on Jan. 11, 1999. The overwhelming majority of the Haitian people supported Préval's move. Why was that disastrous?

Ironically, Préval today resembles, in a curious way, Russian President Boris Yeltsin, his one ally in the Nov. 30 Security Council vote. After collaborating with the U.S. to dismantle the Soviet Union and following their economic formulae which have turned Russia from a super-power into an junk heap, the Russian president is now finding no gratitude from Washington. Instead, the U.S. is walking right over him to gain control of the oil- rich Caspian Sea region, where the Chechnyan war is raging. As a Nov. 20 New York Times headline announced: U.S. Seeks to End Russian Domination of the Caspian.

The U.S. strategy toward Russia is aimed at weakening its international position and ousting it from strategically important regions of the world, above all the Caspian region, the Trans Caucasus and Central Asia, complained Yeltsin's Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev at a Nov. 12 press conference. Yeltsin and Sergeyev are surprised that the U.S. doesn't want to help build Russia. It wants a permanent smoldering of a manageable armed conflict [resulting] in a weakened Russia that will help the U.S. obtain full control over the Northern Caucasus.

Is this duplicitous approach of the U.S. any different in Haiti, where it harbors in Washington 160,000 pages of Haiti's documents, sends back hundreds of hardened criminals to contribute to the insecurity, continues to give refuge in Queens, NY to the death-squad leader Toto Constant and underwrite his organization, the FRAPH, in Haiti, and, now unilaterally orchestrates the extension of the U.N. military occupation?

Perhaps Préval deserves to be steamrolled by the masters he has served so faithfully for the past three years. It's the Haitian people who deserve better.