In our last commentary, we told of the high hopes that President Clinton had for bringing democracy to Haiti and stemming the flow of cocaine that was passing through Haiti to the U.S. We reported that Gen. Charles E. Wilhelm, who commands U.S. troops stationed in Latin America, had recommended the withdrawal of the 500 Americans stationed in Haiti. He said this was costing us $20 million a year and that the number one mission of the troops was to protect themselves from harm.
That is because since we restored President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to power at the point of 20,000 American bayonets in September 1994, law and order have ceased to exist in Haiti to such a degree that the Pentagon must worry about the safety of the troops we have there. Furthermore, the promised reduction in the flow of cocaine to the U.S. through Haiti has failed to materialize. Quite the contrary. It has grown by leaps and bounds, and it is generally agreed that the one who controls the traffic and profits immensely from it is none other than Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
The Drug Enforcement Administration estimates that two-thirds of the cocaine in the U.S. comes across the Mexican border. The DEA says that much of the rest comes through Haiti. They estimate that 54 tons passed through Haiti in 1998, a 17 percent increase over the previous year. Haiti failed to meet the standards necessary to be certified as cooperating in the war on drugs, but it was given a waiver, to avoid having to impose sanctions that would further damage Haiti?s fragile economy.
Aristide is no longer president. He passed the office on to Rene Preval, in February 1996, but Preval is his puppet. Aristide pulls the strings from his estate at Tabarre, where visiting foreign dignitaries come to pay their respects, knowing that he is the power behind the throne. This former Roman Catholic priest, who gave up his vow of poverty over ten years ago is now fabulously wealthy, mainly because of the profits he has made trafficking in cocaine. This is acknowledged even by his defenders, who say that he only takes a commission.
The Haiti Observateur, which is published in New York, reports that Haiti is in desperate straits economically. It says The Miami Herald quotes a private sector leader as saying, “Haiti is not only at a standstill, but is slipping backwards into the abyss.” A cleaning woman says of the politicians, “They care only for power, for politics. In the meantime, people kill people every day.”
The Haiti Observateur has reported that one of those persons killed in mid-February was an American. It says his body was dismembered and the parts were distributed in various neighborhoods in the capital, Port au Prince. He has not been identified and the killing has gone unreported by the mainstream media in this country. Why the silence? Raymond Joseph, the editor of the Observateur, says it is believed that the victim was a DEA agent. He believes General Wilhelm?s recommendation that we pull out our troops may be our response, proof that Clinton?s Haiti policy has been a catastrophe.