Help Restore Haiti's Democracy

By Robert I. Rotberg. Robert I. Rotberg is president of Lafayette College . | The Christian Science Monitor, October 17, 1991 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Help Restore Haiti's Democracy


Robert I. Rotberg. Robert I. Rotberg is president of Lafayette College ., The Christian Science Monitor


SENDING United States Marines to restore the Rev. Jean-Bertrand Aristide to Haiti's presidency is a final option. For now, tightening the noose of economic sanctions as mandated by the Organization of American States, the United Nations General Assembly, and President Bush is the most appropriate approach.

The Western Hemisphere's overriding concern must continue to be the nurturing of democracy in Haiti. Late last year, in Haiti's first-ever fully free and popular election, Rev. Aristide won an overwhelming mandate, receiving 67 percent of the votes cast.

After nearly three decades of dictatorial rule by Francois (Papa Doc) and Jean-Claude (Baby Doc) Duvalier, and nearly five years of corrupt and stuttering military rule, the wildly acclaimed victory by Aristide's radical forces signaled the beginning of Haiti's modern renaissance. With solid Western backing, particularly from the US and France, Haiti had its best chance in modern times to begin developing itself economically and politically.

Haiti is the poorest and, by most indicators, the most backward country in the Americas. Its 6 million inhabitants have rarely known prosperity, good education, suitable health care, or freedom from political extortion. Aristide's accession to power early this year brought new hope and, among the underprivileged in the slums of Port-Au-Prince or in the countryside, a sense of exhilaration.

But, as far as the Army and the wealthier classes in Haiti were concerned, Aristide overreached himself. He exerted a measure of new control over the Army and curtailed many of its perquisites. He made commercial life more uncertain for businessmen. Unfortunately, too, in speeches he enjoyed rabble-rousing more than persuading, and even praised vigilante rule and some aspects of mob violence. He was less a voice of tolerance than a threatening voice of mass rule.

Despite these seemingly anti-democratic tendencies, and some alleged attacks on ex-Duvalierists, Aristide did not openly abuse his high office. But merchants and the Army suspected dictatorial tendencies, particularly after he began recruiting and training his own special guard.

Prompted by Aristide's supposedly inflammatory rhetoric, his continued antagonism to the old ruling groups, and the formation of the new guard, the Army ousted him in late September and sent him into exile.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Help Restore Haiti's Democracy
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?