Thursday 21st April 2005

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Haiti visited by peace

We have all been awaiting the end of the last Haitian conflict, which began with the departure of President Aristide, compelled to relinquish power by US forces that were accompanied almost simultaneously by other governments of the region, until a United Nations force was created and mandated to apply a peacekeeping plan in the neighbouring Caribbean nation.

It seems as though the fact that the foreign forces did not enter that country with prior agreement among the major actors involved in Haitian politics, has led to a wave of unceasing violence, constantly changing its forms. That after seeking to implement several plans to disarm the civil population and the former members of the Duvalier army.

In addition, included in the programme for political normalisation was the holding of elections to appoint a new government to replace the provisional one.

This task began with the appointment of the electoral authorities, who started their work immediately, not only through the internal organisation of the process, but also by acquiring international assistance to observe other electoral processes, all with a view to ensuring the smooth running of that process.

However, the most encouraging factor for this impoverished country was the promise of assistance received from the international community, which, together with military intervention, provided the capital necessary for Haiti to begin the long-awaited journey toward development.

Although economic aid has certainly been the worse kept promise, since the scarce resources received have arrived little by little and in quantities far below those initially provided.

Being optimistic, as one must be regarding the Haitian situation, it would appear as though something positive could take place in Haiti, since in recent weeks certain events have occurred that drive us to believe that a window of opportunity is being opened for peace in that country, which must now be tired of such violence in the midst of the most appalling poverty.

The first is that the Government has formed a commission to open doors toward national dialogue that would allow a national agreement to be established, serving as the basis for all Haitians to pacify their country and together decide which course must be followed in order to leave behind the destructive conflict that has prevailed to date.

Along another vein, a United Nations Security Council commission has just completed a visit to Haiti, where it assessed the current situation there, so as to present recommendations to the organisation that would help improve the Haitian situation.

Similarly, the country has been visited by two Nobel laureates: Adolfo Pérez Esquivel and Rigoberta Menchú.

The former worked together with a group of non-governmental organisations in evaluating Haiti’s internal situation, seeking to provide assistance to escape the crisis and on which several recommendations were expressed. Although he advocates his vision that “the Haitian problem is not a military one” so as to place emphasis on economic support through non-reimbursable financial contributions.

As for the latter, the Guatemalan, she underscored the medium of dialogue as a mechanism for escaping the crisis, but it should be all inclusive, respectful and diverse. In that sense, her voice was crystal clear in expressing “if there is only one truth, it sometimes becomes an exclusion.”

We hope that the arrival of those messengers would leave a trail of understanding and tolerance, until there is an aureole of peace that would intensify up to the point where it becomes a ring that allows no room for confrontation.

In that effort, Haitians must be aware of the importance of inclusive dialogue and the international community must not lose interest and the desire to provide dynamic support.

Dr Rubén Silié Valdez is the Secretary General of the Association of Caribbean States. The views expressed are not necessarily the official views of the ACS. Feedback can be sent to: [email protected]




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