Sunday, March 8, 2009

More of the Same as Bill Clinton and Ban Ki-Moon visit Haiti

by Wadner

Haiti has always seemed to attract more high profile and supposedly benevolent visitors than any other Caribbean country. For example, there are more NGOs per capita in Haiti then anywhere in the world – up to 20,000 according to a 1998 World Bank estimate. Since the coup that ousted Aristide's democratic government in 2004, Haiti also “hosts” thousands of UN soldiers and support staff. Countless visitors profess a desire to improve life for Haitians and to promote democracy but they seldom deliver.. That does not excuse the Haitian authorities and Haiti's bourgeoisie class who have kept Haitians living in extreme poverty. Nevertheless, one must wonder what visitors to Haiti really want for Haitians.

I have witnessed and heard many of the false promises, particularly since 1994 with the return of Haiti's constitutional order. On October 15, 1994, the Clinton Administration allowed Aristide's government to return but under strict conditions. Many people say Aristide should not have accepted those conditions but he did not seem to have much choice. Aristide tried to keep the Democrats on his side, especially after Bush was elected, but with the exception of the Congressional Black Caucus, especially Maxine Waters, they betrayed him and the Haitian people. It was under Clinton, in 1995, that economic sanctions began to be brought against Aristide's government for not moving quickly enough on privatization to please Washington.

With these facts an mind, what can Haitians expect from the recent visit they received from former US president Bill Clinton and UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon? “Nothing” answered some Haitian parliamentarians. They will spend a few days in Haiti, eat some nice food at the National Palace, make more empty promises, and perhaps encourage more false hope. Perhaps they will congratulate Preval for not stepping out of line as did Aristide.

For the Lavalas supporters, it will be a chance to draw attention to some demands: the return of their leader and the reintegration of Fanmi Lavalas in the electoral process. Finally, they will try, via the presence of the international press, to send a message Barack Obama. In fact, a rally is planned in front of the International Airport, Toussaint Louverture for March 9, 2009.

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