Once again, the United States and the international community have intervened to prevent civil chaos and economic collapse in Haiti. But such intercessions have, in the past, only been minor respites to the endemic misgovernment and violent uprisings that plague Haiti. Is there cause to hope that this time will be different? AEI welcomes Roger Noriega, assistant secretary of state for the western hemisphere and the Bush administration's major policymaker for the region, for a foreign policy briefing on Haiti's future and U.S. involvement.
|Welcome:||Mark Falcoff, AEI|
Roger Noriega, assistant secretary of state, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs
Haiti: The Road Ahead
Once again, the United States and the international community have intervened to prevent civil chaos and economic collapse in Haiti. Such intercessions have, in the past, only been minor respites to the endemic mismanagement and violent uprisings that plague Haiti. Is there cause to hope that this time will be different? Roger Noriega, assistant secretary of state for the western hemisphere and the Bush administration's major policymaker for the region, discussed Haiti's future and U.S. involvement at an April 14 AEI foreign policy briefing.
Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs
Today Haiti stands at an important crossroad. Haitians have the opportunity to depart from their troubled past and embark upon a path toward development and democracy. Cynics shrug at Haiti; they overlook the great strides the Haitian people have historically taken to establish a thriving democracy and believe Haiti is destined for perpetual turmoil. The Haitian people have made many attempts, but selfish and corrupt leaders, coupled with low expectations of the international community, have stood in the way of real democratic progress.
The recurring theme in Haitian politics has been this: popular leader promises democratic reform only to become the tyrant he criticized. Jean-Bertrand Aristide, in the end, was no different than his predecessors Francois and "Baby Doc" Duvalier. Many held high hopes that the country's dismal past would be reversed under Aristide. However, promises of democratic reform went unfulfilled once again, and the country repeated its previous cycles of tyranny and political violence.
Four key factors contributed to Aristide's collapse: First, demagoguery and political violence characterized his regime. Second, Aristide allowed corruption to flourish in Haiti's state institutions. Third, Aristide was unwilling to compromise with his political adversaries. Finally, he flouted the concerns of his neighbors and friends in the international community.
The lesson of Haiti is this: democracy is not merely a legal document or an election; rather, democracy is a way of life. Now that Aristide's chapter has concluded, the international community must ensure that Haiti is given what it deserves--a shot at genuine democracy.
The Bush administration believes that engagement with Haiti must be guided by three principles: First, the international community must regain credibility with the Haitian people. Second, political violence and corruption must cease, and security and rule of law must be restored to authorized forces. Third, in order to help Haiti reach its economic potential, the international community must engage the country's government and private sector.
It is true that Haiti faces great challenges; but I believe the spirit and drive behind the Haitian people, coupled with a renewed commitment from the United States and the international community, will lead to a truly new chapter in Haitian history. If we abide by the principles of democracy and do not give way to expediency, we will succeed at providing the people of Haiti with the opportunity for genuine democracy they deserve.
AEI staff assistant Kara Nichols prepared this summary.