The Presidential Address on Haiti

Mr. Clinton laid out four reasons for his invasion of Haiti:  to restore human rights; to stop the flood of refugees; to restore democracy; and to save our own credibility with other nations in the world.  His speech was passionate, but unconvincing to anyone who has studied this issue.  The way he rewrote history left me wondering if he will have any credibility left with knowledgeable people here or  abroad.

When he discussed human rights abuses I fully expected him to make some reference to the fact that Aristide’s record was far from perfect. He didn’t.  Instead he concentrated on recent promises Aristide has made to him, to “step down at the end of his term in accordance with the constitution he has sworn to uphold.  He committed himself to promote reconciliation among all Haitians.”

Indeed, it was  Aristide’s tramping on his country’s constitution that got him into trouble.  He was presented with nine specific charges, from packing the supreme court to incitement to murder.  In the presence of ambassadors from several countries he was given the option of standing trial or leaving.  He chose to leave.

As for Aristide’s most recent promises, history shows that they are meaningless.  Mr. Clinton mentioned that Cedras, himself, came here and signed on to the agreement on Governors Island in New York.  Indeed, he did, but it was Aristide who botched it by letting it be known that he would ignore his promised amnesty and would prosecute army leaders or — worse.   Under Aristide worse meant throwing them to his mobs.

Clinton mentioned the recent murder of an Aristide supporter, Father Vincent.  There was no mention of how Aristide has treated the church.  After Archbishop Francois Ligonde delivered a homily denouncing him for installing a “Bolshevik government,”  one of his mobs destroyed a cathedral.  The papal ambassador was stripped and paraded through the streets.  A priest from Zaire was gravely wounded,  and Ligonde fled Haiti to save his life.   Sylvio Claude, a Baptist minister, wasn’t that lucky.  One of Aristide’s mobs got him shortly before Aristide was arrested.  They  beat him, mutilated his body and set him afire.  Accuracy in Media has a picture of one of his henchmen parading around the body with the minister’s most private body part dangling from his mouth.

Aristide has rejected every effort to form a broad-based government and accommodate Haiti’s democratically-elected congress.  Mr. Clinton has given in to Aristide and his supporters to the point were he has no other choice but to send him back, with force.  I find it somewhat ironic that Mr. Clinton is now trying to entice Haiti’s leaders to leave and abandon their commitment to their military, which reminds us of how he abandoned his commitment to ours during Vietnam

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