The rushed departure of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the continuing chaos in the streets, and the lack of a plan to forge long-term stability in Haiti have left the fate of the country hanging in the balance. The following is a sample of editorial commentary from around the world on the Haitian crisis.
"The fall of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide appeared inevitable as armed rebels prepared to march on the capital, Port-au-Prince. Aristide, once the great hope of the Haitian poor, was unable to balance the demands for radical social reform with the pressure of a wealthy elite unwilling to surrender its privileges… News agencies reported that Aristide would land in nearby Panama rather than the distant Central Africa Republic, giving him greater influence over unfolding events. Aristide's formal resignation gave US officials a chance to exercise decisive control over the transition, with US marines in place before his plane journey had even ended… The fate of Haiti, once a prosperous and proud nation, is now again in the hands of foreign troops, a fragile interim administration, and a former death squad leader."
-Michael McCaughan, The Irish Times, March 6, 2004
"The curtain has come down on another Haitian government – one that may have begun with high ideals but delivered few results for the voters who brought it into office. A key question now is who, or what, will replace Mr. Aristide's government. If Haiti is to develop economically – and if it is to end the culture of political violence that has dominated since it became independent 200 years ago – the United Nations will have to play a leading role… These implications, and that country's long history of intervention in Haiti, are among the reasons the US should take a back seat to UN leadership now. Having the international body guiding the new government and any elections to be held will assure the world that the interests being served are those of the Haitian people as a whole, not those of exiled elite who may have friends in the US administration or Congress."
–South China Morning Post, March 2, 2004
"President Aristide's departure from the Haitian government has eased the Haitian crisis, with an incipient political settlement under strong pressure of the USG… Aristide's big mistake in this crisis was having missed the challenge he represented and having prioritized his own power over the country's overwhelming needs. Paradoxically, the critical situation lived by Haiti gives the country a new opportunity. And it also gives another chance to the international community, which should contribute in a more sustainable way to the establishment of stronger pillars for democracy… Not only will the future of Haitians depend on this, but also the Latin American regional panorama, which is being rocked by simultaneous confrontations."
–Clarin, March 4, 2004
"The Bush government has shown yet again through its actions and inactions in Haiti that it is not interested in making the world safe for democracy but a place for US stooges. The US and its local agents have been trying to unseat the democratically elected government of Chavez in Venezuela since its coming to power. Would their success in Haiti whet their appetite to try again in Caracas? Aristide’s experience also raises the question of the uses and abuses of popular protest. Because thousands of people are on the street should not mean that they are defending democracy and doing so democratically…. Is there no democratic way of holding to account an elected leader who has not delivered to the people without giving in to violence and militarism?"
-Abdul-Raheem Tajudeem, New Vision, March 4, 2004
"It is one thing to push democracy, but without the kinds of wealth-redistribution mechanisms we have in the democracies of the developed world, the violence we see in Haiti will persist. The United States and the Western world generally advocate a volatile mix of free-enterprise capitalism and democracy for these counties, but pay little attention to establishing ways to redistribute the wealth to the desperate populations… As we send soldiers and police, food and water, we should also resolve to help Haiti and other needy countries establish systems of wealth redistribution through progressive taxation, minimum-wage laws and the like. This effort should be supported by canceling the foreign debt of the poorest countries, and accelerating the establishment a fairer trade system. Without such a plan, the few rich will become richer, democracy will fail under the burden of a very raw form of capitalism, and the poor will become even more desperate, disillusioned, and humiliated – vulnerable to demagogues and the temptation of violent solutions."
–Montreal Gazette, March 8, 2004
"Essentially, Mr. Aristide was offered as a sacrifice on an altar of expediency by an axis of powerful nations, led by the United States and France and including Canada… Even with the fig leaf of constitutional cover with which Mr. Aristide's removal was deposed, it was, in the view of most rational people, nothing short of a coup d'etat. For as CARICOM said, these circumstances set a dangerous precedent for the removal of democratically elected governments everywhere. That of itself is deserving of review and debate by the UN General Assembly. However, Mr. Aristide's claims of the circumstances under which he left Haiti demand a deeper, forensic examination. Perhaps, too, this whole situation should again place on the agenda the structure and rules of the Security Council with its narrow concentration of power."
–Jamaica Observer, March 4, 2004