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United States Involvement In Haiti

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We begin our story on December 29th in the year 2000. United States President Bill Clinton sends a letter to Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, urging him to restore democracy in his country as he had promised before. Clinton has written statements from Aristide assuring that Haiti will take part in a democratic reform in the interest of human rights. In the letter that Bill Clinton sends, he reminds Aristide of the United States' role in his being brought back into power in 1994. Many republicans thought that President Clinton's letter was far too polite for the situation at hand.

Aristide had a lot of promises left to be fulfilled. Domestic and foreign policy reforms were yet to be seen. No members of the opposition could be found in his government. His police force and judiciary remained unprofessional. He failed to cooperate with the United States in a campaign against drug trafficking, as he was to allow the Coast Guard to patrol Haitian waters.

Back in Washington, Senator Jesse Helms and Representative Porter J. Goss issued a joint statement: "Narco traffickers, criminals, and other anti-democratic elements who surround Aristide should feel the full weight of United States law enforcement." It was of the opinion of the Republicans in America that we end all direct support for the Haitian government. With President Clinton out the door soon in the last few weeks of his term, the Republican Party members were anxious to see the differences the Bush administration would make in this situation.

Fast-forwarding to November of 2003, President George W. Bush gave Aristide a warning. He needed to keep his word and begin some move on reforms. His country was crumbling. Not just in the sense that there was a strong division between Aristide's government and the opposition leading to violent terrorism throughout Haiti, but more and more of Haiti's eight million citizens were becoming impoverished, going hungry. Not only that, but the land was physically crumbling - roads were unusable and there was terrible telephone service. There is an indirect relationship between Haitian relations and demonstrations against its government. With less support, there are more attacks, and the Bush administration was not about to step in and help Haiti unless Aristide showed us some results. United States ambassador to Haiti James Foley said, "If Haiti falls into its historical path of authoritarian government, misrule, and abuse of human rights, its future will be as somber as its past."

A change needed to be made in the government control, but Haiti was a democracy, and an election would be the only method short of a coup d'etat that could bring in new leadership. However, the Haitian opposition refused to participate in an election unless Aristide resigned - they were not about to take part in any activity that would give Aristide's rule any legitimacy. Government spokesman Mario Dupuy stated, "To hold free and democratic elections is a constitutional obligation. We want to hold them but we can't hold them alone."

The opposition thought Aristide was a clown. Originally, the poor population of Haiti favored Aristide as he gave them his sympathy and his promises. He was a priest, but after resigning from his priesthood he lost a considerable amount of his supporters. It didn't help that he did next to nothing to improve Haiti or that he kept virtually none of the promises he made to his people and to other world nations.

So what does America have to gain if we help nurse Haiti back to a healthy democracy? Well, Haiti is a country very close to the United



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