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We’ve Got Plans for Almost Anything You’d Want to Do in the World

February 2004

Asked whether or not the U.S. had any plans to intervene in Haiti, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said just that on the 2/12 broadcast of NPR’s “Evening Edition.” The U.S., of course, has contingency plans for another invasion of Haiti, but has no plans to use those plans. Such talk makes Haitians nervous, and it should.

As the violence gets worse in Haiti, Florida starts to worry. The stated concern of Florida politicians is not the killings or the economic chaos faced by people in Haiti. They are concerned that another wave of Haitians is going to start washing up on Florida shores in makeshift boats.

The Bush Administration pays attention to this in an election year. Florida could, once again, decide a close race, and Florida won’t be happy if the situation in Haiti leads to major out migration.

While some in the Administration speak quite openly about “regime change” in Haiti, Colin Powell stepped before Senate Foreign Relations committee yesterday to take it all back. He insists that, however disappointing Aristide may be, he is Haiti’s elected President and should serve out his term. No U.S. military action is yet contemplated, but the U.S. might provide “police support” or help others do so.

Suddenly the statements of our Haitian partners against U.S. intervention don’t seem farfetched at all. Most of our partners still call for Aristide to step down, but they are firmly against any U.S. intervention…police support or full military invasion.

What is the alternative to Aristide? Members of the civic opposition talk about a “transitional government” made up of civil society leaders and the largely discredited opposition political parties. The gangsters holding much of Gonaives want the opposition political parties to take power.

Remember who gave those gangsters their guns. The 2/10 issue of Mexico’s “La Jornada” makes the important point that much press coverage doesn’t take the time to distinguish between the civic opposition trying to hold marches in the street and the gangs originally created by Aristide for his own political purposes. As so often happens, those gangs have come back to bite him. We desperately hope that the difference pointed out by “La Jornada” comes to matter.

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