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Yet Another Deadline for Disarmament Passes Without Progress in Haiti

September 2004

When President Aristide left office, the one thing that was clear to all Haiti observers was that if there was any hope for Haiti to return to a truly democratic government, and–dare we dream–to move toward a truly democratic society and economy, one of the first priorities had to be the disarmament of the rebel forces whose threatened besiegement of Port-au-Prince helped drive Aristide from office. (Even Rebel leader Guy Philipe announced in March that his men would hand in their guns.)

In the early stages, U.S., multi-national and U.N. forces announced that they would begin the disarmament process, but the rules of engagement for that military/humanitarian intervention collapsed to the point that the U.S. refused to use its helicopters to help victims of the catastrophic floods of the spring.

In the last weeks, the U.S. government and the U.N. have called on the bankrupt interim Haitian government and the undermanned Haitian national police to carry out what thousands of U.S. and U.N. forces were unwilling to attempt.

In the latest reports, the Latortue government reports that it has found an “amicable solution” to the problem: continued negotiation with the armed rebels. (Here’s the AP story.)

Meanwhile, civil society groups, peasant organizations, labor unions and the vast majority of Haiti’s poorest citizens don’t have the firepower to bully their way to the negotiating table.

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