Letter: Haiti deal may lead to disaster

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The Independent Online
Sir: The seven-point agreement brokered by Jimmy Carter with the Haitian army appears to be a recipe for disaster. The deal is all about giving safety guarantees to the Haitian military and allowing the US forces an easy ride. President Aristide was left out of the discussions and then presented with a fait accompli.

As the agreement does not set a date for Aristide's return, it is likely that he will only return after 15 October, when the army leadership is supposed to step down. In the meantime, the intervention force will co-operate, as Jimmy Carter said, as 'partners' with the Haitian army. To the Haitian people it must be insulting to see General Shelton establishing a good working relationship with the people reponsible for the slaughter of up to 5,000 of their brothers and sisters.

It remains to be seen to what extent the army and the paramilitaries are going to be disarmed, given the reticence of the powerful US force to confront these thugs. In the meantime it will be safer for supporters of Aristide to remain in hiding. Not only is there the prospect that many weapons will be hidden, but the paramilitaries may well succeed in publicly converting into a 'respectable' political party. Moreover, as General Cedras is not required to leave the country, he may well run in the next presidential elections.

Even if the intervention succeeds in restoring 'formal democracy' and in stopping some of the worst atrocities, Aristide will have little freedom to continue the necessary social and economic reforms that he initiated in 1991. Details of the concessions that the US has forced from Aristide are still sketchy, but it is clear that he has had to agree to an economic programme favoured by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Reforms such as an increase in the minimum wage and the creation of a social security pension scheme will not feature in such a programme. Instead it looks as though Haiti will remain a low wage economy which will benefit the tiny domestic elite, and foreign investors.

If the outcome of the intervention is a continuation of the Haitians' miserable economic existence, further instability and unrest are inevitable.

Yours sincerely,



Haiti Support Group

London, NW11

19 September