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In the News
Last Updated: 02/19/2004Haiti. To intervene or not to intervene?
Haiti one of the poorest countries on Earth is now facing the threat of civil war again. While men, women and children die from violence or starve, doubts emerge in the international community about intervention. Is the island within US sphere of influence or does the former colonial power France have rights and responsibilities? Meanwhile Cuba worries about Haitian boat people.
Haiti:to intervene or not to intervene: 19 Feb, 2004
From the BBC
Haiti calls for foreign troops
Haitian Prime Minister Yvon Neptune has made a renewed call for international troops to be sent to the country to help tackle the violence there.
Mr Neptune said it was the duty of the international community to confront what he called armed drug-traffickers.
His comments came hours after US Secretary of State Colin Powell ruled out sending troops to Haiti.
Armed rebels have taken control of large parts of northern Haiti, and more than 50 people have been killed.
The rebels, who are demanding the resignation of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, have said they will take their revolt all the way to the presidential palace in Port-au-Prince.
They have cut off key supply routes to the north, undermining President Aristide's control of large areas of the impoverished nation.
The rebels are reported to be in control of most roads leading into the main food-producing region, the Artibonite.
Mr Neptune, speaking to journalists, said: "When the national police are confronted with drug-traffickers who are armed, with arms-traffickers who invent all sorts of political pretexts for their actions and for sowing death and destruction, it is the duty of the international community to get involved."
Mr Powell says the US has "no enthusiasm" for sending in troops to quell the unrest.
He said the priority was to find a political solution based on an initiative by the Caricom group of Caribbean nations.
But France, the former colonial power, has said it is ready to consider sending a peacekeeping force to Haiti.
In the latest outbreak of violence, the rebels - mostly former soldiers and vigilantes - expelled police from the town of Hinche after killing the police chief, while looters have ransacked the burnt-out police station.
From the Daily Telegraph
France proposes peace force for Haiti
France said yesterday that it was ready to lead an international intervention in Haiti as the bloody insurgency aimed at ousting President Jean-Bertrand Aristide continued to spread across its former colony.
The Paris government convened an emergency team to respond to the growing chaos as its foreign minister, Dominique de Villepin, suggested sending a peacekeeping expedition to Haiti, 200 years after the Caribbean state won independence from France. However, his proposal received a cool response in Washington.
Colin Powell, the US secretary of state, said: "Frankly, there is little enthusiasm right now for sending military or police forces to calm the violence."
M de Villepin's proposal - however well-intentioned - has prompted another round of jostling between the leading powers, reminiscent of the run-up to the invasion of Iraq.
America considers Haiti within its Caribbean sphere of influence. France would like to expand its role as a leader in international diplomacy and United Nations-led interventions - both military and humanitarian. The UN has already sent a team to Haiti to assess its humanitarian needs, and the UN refugee agency is discussing ways to cope with a mass movement of displaced people if the violence continues.
Opposition politicians are refusing to participate in elections in protest at the corrupt way in which they say the president has conducted previous votes.
From USA TODAY
Aristide's militant defenders vowed to take a stand against the 2-week-old rebellion that has killed some 60 people and has attracted leaders with murderous backgrounds. (Related story: U.S. officials debate over Haitian leader)
"We have machetes and guns, and we will resist," said carpenter Pierre Frandley. "The police might have been scared, but the people got together and organized. ... We blocked the streets."
Police took refuge in their stations, making clear they were too scared to patrol the streets of Cap-Haitien amid fears that rebels already have infiltrated the northern port and more were headed that way.
The rebels have chased police from more than a dozen towns and cut supply lines to northern Haiti from Port-au-Prince, the capital to the south, and from the western Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti.
U.S. officials worry the current crisis would only worsen if Aristide is forced to flee. One option being internally discussed is a transfer of power, with Aristide's consent, to a temporary governing board made up of Haitians who would run the country until a new president was elected. It is not clear how much support that proposal has at top levels of the Bush administration.
Aristide rebuffed Bush administration suggestions that he convene early presidential elections as a way to defuse the crisis, a senior U.S. official said Wednesday.
From The Miami Herald
Cuba trying to head off mass exodus from Haiti
With a potential migration crisis brewing amid continued political turmoil in Haiti, Cuba has issued an appeal for international assistance for the troubled country just 50 miles off its eastern tip.
''Cuba believes that the international community cannot abandon Haiti. The social situation is getting worse,'' Foreign Minister Felipe Pérez Roque said at a recent meeting of Caribbean officials. ``Collaborating with Haiti has become a duty for all of us, its neighbors.''
In the early 1990s, about 600 Haitians wound up in Cuba as thousands trying to escape the violence of a military coup in their homeland fled in rickety boats in an attempt to reach the United States.
Cuba set up an emergency refugee camp near the sparsely populated eastern tip of the island to accommodate the Haitians who had come ashore in the eastern provinces of Camagüey, Holguín, Guantánamo and Santiago.
The exodus forced the Cuban government to care for the would-be refugees at a time when the communist nation was experiencing its worst economic crisis as a result of the collapse of the former Soviet Union, which abruptly ended subsidies.