Haiti in extremis

Disillusioned with democracy

When the last remnants of Operation Uphold Democracy—a UN peacekeeping force but predominantly American for much of its duration—left Haiti a few weeks ago, some observers voiced dire predictions of a descent into chaos and civil war. Time will tell. But others argued that the situation could hardly be worse than it is. Undertaken in 1994, the primary purpose of the U.S./UN mission was to restore to power in tyranny-ravaged Haiti its first democratically elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Though the charismatic Aristide—at that time a Salesian priest—had won a landslide victory (67 percent of the vote) in 1990, he was ousted by a military coup after only seven months in office, and during his three years of exile the Haitian army and paramilitary groups killed some 4,000 unarmed civilians, most of them Aristide supporters.

 

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