US does U-turn and toughens Haiti policy

IN A sharp reversal of policy, the US is to press the United Nations Security Council to toughen sanctions against Haiti unless its three top military leaders step down within the next 15 days. They must also start the restoration to power of the exiled President, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, whom they overthrew in a coup in 1991.

The change reflects the determination of the White House to rid itself of its reputation for talking tough but backing down, be it in Bosnia or Haiti, at the first sign of resistance. Last October a US-brokered plan to restore Fr Aristide broke down when a US vessel carrying military training officers withdrew in the face of a demonstration by Haitian gunmen.

Effectively dropping its attempt to force Fr Aristide to share power with the men who deposed him, the Clinton administration this week fired its envoy to Haiti and decided to back a more rigorous economic embargo. The switch in policy follows intense pressure from the black caucus in Congressand criticism of President Bill Clinton for giving in to the Haitian military.

New measures include banning 600 Haitian officers from entering any other country, freezing their overseas assets, and banning non- commercial flights - to stop drugs smugglers using Haiti as a staging post. Ian Martin of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and a specialist on Haiti, said yesterday the effectiveness of fresh sanctions will depend on how much is done to 'stop leakage through the Dominican Republic'.

In the past, petrol and other supplies have been smuggled across the Dominican Republic's long border with Haiti, with the co-operation of Dominican army units. Mr Martin says the US 'has been consistently overconfident on stopping this happening'. Ever since last April, he says, the US has given comfort to the military by 'not going through with tough action after talking tough'.

At the centre of the new Security Council measures, to be voted on by early next week, is the demand that Lieutenant-General Raoul Cedras, the army commander, Philippe Biamby, his chief of staff, and Michel Francois, the police chief, step down within 15 days. They must also start to enforce the so- called Governor's Island Agreement concluded last year, under which they promised to restore Fr Aristide to power.

If the Haitian military fail to agree to this, an embargo as tough as that against Iraq will be imposed. The only exceptions will be the export of mangoes grown by poor peasant farmers and the import of basic foodstuffs and relief supplies.

President Clinton's Haiti policy has been in serious trouble even before he came into office. Having criticised President Bush for turning back Haitian boat-people fleeing to Florida without a hearing, he reversed himself and adopted the same policy even before taking office. A motive for the administration's present urgency is fear that the flight of refugees will resume.

The turning back of black Haitians - while white Cubans who reach Florida are welcomed - attracted accusations of racism. This is politically damaging, since 83 per cent of American black voters supported President Clinton in 1992 and about 40 Congressmen belong to the black caucus. Black anger finally boiled over when Randall Robinson, the well- respected leader of TransAfrica Forum, went on hunger strike in protest at the administration's Haiti policy.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own