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Safe Haven for Haiti?

With Haiti once again descending into chaos, is there hope? We examine the posibilities — quote-by-quote.

March 2, 2004

With Haiti once again descending into chaos, is there hope? We examine the posibilities — quote-by-quote.

Haiti — the poorest country in the Western hemisphere — is in a state of near-anarchy. Rebels have ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who had been reinstalled by U.S. troops back in 1994. With Mr. Aristide having fled — with some prodding — into exile, international troops are now trying to quell violence and looting. Our Read My Lips examines Haiti's fate.

“It’s beyond a mess. This is a tragedy.”
(Marleine Bastien, executive director of Haitian women of Miami, February 2004)

“The current crisis is forcing poor Haitians — among the most malnourished on earth — to eat the seeds they saved for spring planting. With nothing planted, there will be no harvest.”
(U.S. Senator Bob Graham (D-Fl), February 2004)

“Now we have no leader — and we have two groups at war with each other.”
(Haitian citizen, February 2004)

“We don’t want any blood. We don’t want any violence. We just want Aristide to hear what the people want — and to leave.”
(Guy Philippe, Haitian rebel leader, February 2004)

“The people could sack the homes of the bourgeoisie, of all those who are not with Aristide.”
(Leslie Voltaire, Haiti’s Minister for Emigres, February 2004)

“Democracy is not a five-year term. Democracy is a set of principles, the right to live, the right to eat, the right to education — the right to health.”
(Guy Philippe, Haitian rebel leader, February 2004)

“He has disappointed everybody. We haven’t benefited from his type of democracy.”
(Simon Freddy, law student, February 2004)

“Jean-Bertrand Aristide is solely responsible for undoing this presidency. He armed people, which created a very tense situation — he had no choice but to go.”
(Haitian citizen, March 2004)

“There is much to be learned from the last U.S. effort at stabilizing Haiti a decade ago. U.S. forces left too quickly — and they provided too little training and aid to the police they left behind. Not enough was done to help Haitians build democratic institutions.”
(Washington Post editorial, March 2004)

“The Americans really have to take matters into their own hands now.”
(Haitian citizen, March 2004)

“If the international community is serious about wanting to help Haiti get out of this cycle of bad leaders, horrible situations and terrible economics, it will have to invest more than a few troops for two weeks”.
(Isabelle Mohaupt, Haitian expatriate and novelist, March 2004)

“Ultimately, there is no alternative to the use of U.S. influence. We must become engaged at a serious and sustained level — or be prepared to pay the cost of chaos 600 miles off our coast and on the seas that separate us from Haiti.”
(U.S. Senator Bob Graham (D-Fl.), February 2004)

“So far, the administration’s approach offers scant grounds for optimism. as the crisis mounted over the past several months, the U.S. officials ignored it until violence had spread across the country.”
(Washington Post editorial, March 2004)

“We strongly encourage the Haitian people to stay home as we work to affect a peaceful solution to this problem.”
(U.S. President George W. Bush, February 2004)

“We will turn back any refugee that attempts to reach our shore.”
(U.S. President George W. Bush, February 2004)

“If it’s going to help things, giving even a nasty man political asylum in a country so that solutions may be found to problems in his country — you do it.”
(Pallo Jordan, head of the South African parliament’s foreign affairs committee, February 2004)

“What will happen to Haiti now? Life before Mr. Aristide was calamitous for Haiti’s people. Life during his time in office was unimproved. Will life after him be any different?”
Garry Pierre-Pierre, New York’s Haitian Times publisher and editor-in-chief, March 2004)

“We have to look at Haiti with compassion.”
(Panama’s President Mireya Moscoso, February 2004)

"Everyone sees quite well that a new page must be opened in Haiti’s history.”
(France’s Foreign Minister Philippe de Villepin, February 2004)

“Damn sugar, damn coffee, damn colonies!”
(French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, in 1800)