Haiti Clings to Democracy

Article excerpt

AT a time of uncertainty and even dread on the world stage, it was good to see the tiny country of Haiti reject Monday the coup attempt of convicted criminal Roger Lafontant.

The rejection of Lafontant by a military emboldened by Haiti's first free national elections is unprecedented. For decades the country has been used to cycles of bloody coups and political negativity and corruption, and the palace takeover announced by Mr. Lafontant, head of the renegade Tontons Macoute police force, looked to be just a repeat of ugly-business-as-usual in Port-au-Prince.

Haitian military leaders may have recognized that the calculus in Haiti has changed, a change made possible by the euphoric and peaceful election of the Rev. Jean Bertrand Aristide. As one observer put it, "The military saw that the middle class just wouldn't stand for this."

In an unfortunate replay of Haiti's violent politics, supporters of Mr. Aristide hunted down and killed many suspected followers of Lafonte after the army put down the coup. …

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