Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Dire assessments for Haiti

A couple of prognostications from people related to the Inter-American Dialogue, Haiti, in the Miami Herald today. Could it ever have been otherwise?

Stability of Haiti rests in international community's hands

Answer from Dan Erikson, director for Caribbean projects at the Inter-American Dialogue: It is becoming increasingly clear that the international community is struggling to translate its promises of manpower, money and commitment into a reality for Haiti. Without a greater commitment of troops, the so-called ''illegitimate actors'' that preside over much of Haiti are almost certainly here to stay. Sadly, however, the security shortcomings are likely to be replicated soon in the economic arena. Last July, the international community promised Haiti an eye-popping $1.3 billion in foreign aid. It is not clear that the interim government and other Haitian agencies have the capacity to absorb and utilize that money effectively. As a result, the aid flow is likely to proceed slowly, thereby undermining the Haitian government while allowing the armed groups and criminals to further solidify their power base. In the meantime, many ordinary Haitians are forced to scrape by on less than $2 a day.

From Diego Arria, a member of the Advisor board and director of the Columbus Group: The truth is that the U.N. and the United States have helped to shield the failings of the Latin American countries to assume, effectively and honestly, their collective responsibilities within the inter-American system. Haiti, after all, is in the Caribbean, not on some faraway continent. Even though Haiti is part of the Americas, the general impression in the region is that its problems are, and should essentially be, of concern only to the United States. The fact that Haiti is a black republic and also the poorest member of our community has everything to do with it.

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