Haiti Essay Research Paper Haiti has long

Haiti Essay, Research Paper Haiti has long been known for its major export of Haitian migrants in search of a better way of life. It is an exodus that goes back several decades, however with recent times the numbers have increased dramatically. In fact, that numbers of Haitians fleeing Haiti in the early 1990 s far exceeds the numbers recorded in earlier years.

Haiti Essay, Research Paper

Haiti has long been known for its major export of Haitian migrants in search of a better way of life. It is an exodus that goes back several decades, however with recent times the numbers have increased dramatically. In fact, that numbers of Haitians fleeing Haiti in the early 1990 s far exceeds the numbers recorded in earlier years. Between 1972- 1979, some 8,000- 10,000 Haitians arrived in the United States. Compare this number with the 14,443 Haitians interdicted between September 30, 1991 January 1, 1992. By early 1994, this number totaled over 41,000 (Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Haiti, 1994). Economic deprivation has always been the predominant influence for the migrating of Haitians, yet in the early 1990s, it was a repressive political system that was compelling the mass exodus of Haitians from their homeland. Haiti had become a place where military forces had consolidated their rule by ruthlessly suppressing the land s once diverse and civil society that had come about after the fall of the Duvalier dictatorship seven years earlier. On September 29, 1991, the military government, headed by Lt. General Prosper Avril, led a coup d etat and overthrew Haiti s first freely elected president, Jean- Bertrand Aristide. The aim was to return Haiti to the repressed and fearful society of the Duvalier era. Under Avril s leadership, the human rights situation in Haiti was worse than it had ever been. The military executed, tortured and illegally arrested countless Haitians. There was no limit to what groups were targeted. Those who expressed support for ousted President Artistide were particularly harassed and met with violent reprisals by the military. The persistence of serious human rights violations that existed suggested an ongoing refusal of the military to relinquish power to an elected civilian government (Silencing A People, 1993). After the coup d etat, thousands upon thousands of Haitians set forth on a long journey with hopes of seeking refuge in the United States, the land of opportunity , via Florida.

From the very beginnings of the crisis in Haiti, we can see the various policies adapted by the three different presidents who held office in the U.S. Through the Reagan, Bush, and finally Clinton administrations, there is an evolution of policy from that of silence, to a gradual increase of concern, and ultimately an objective of restoring democracy in Haiti. However, the one thing that remained constant throughout each administration was the U.S. policy and practice of interdiction and repatriation of Haitian refugees. This policy was indeed successful in curtailing the influx of Haitians into the U.S. (Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Haiti, 1994).

The theory of normative liberalism can be seen as an explanation for the U.S. policy in dealing with the Haitian refugees. The theory assumes that democratic societies have certain democratic norms translate into international non-violence. However, any state that violates these norms will be subject to punishment. The essential norm that identifies liberalism is the right to individual freedoms, which above all is the idea of moral freedom. Liberalism calls for freedom from subjective authority or negative freedoms , and the right to democratic participation or representation (Art and Jervis, Kant, Liberal Legacies, and Foreign Affairs , 1996). Domestic norms affect international relations because leaders become socialized to them and will therefore act internationally according to them. The manner in which the U.S. essentially chose to handle the crisis in Haiti including the expectations of the Haitian government that it set forth exemplify this concept of promoting the nation s domestic norms on an international level.

According to the theory, the actors are foreign policy leaders. These foreign policy leaders consist of mainly the President, but his administration, including the State Dept. and ambassadors, are also key players. These actors have roughly the same values, but party affiliation does reflect different strains of liberalism. The changes in actors reflect subtle changes in policy over time. President Reagan s administration was responsible for enacting the program of interdicting and repatriating the Haitian refugees. Unfortunately, the Reagan administration adopted a policy of silence with regards to the human rights violations that were plaguing Haiti despite their professed commitment to human rights. The Bush administration, like the Reagan administration before it, also failed to publicly criticize the Haitian military abuses during its first few months in office. The Bush administrations upheld the interdiction and repatriation policy with regards to the refugees, as did the Clinton administration that followed. On January 14, 1993, President-elect William Clinton went on the radio with a message asking Haitians to remain in their country and informing them that when sworn into office, the boat people would continue to be intercepted and returned to Haiti. The new Clinton administration announced a global plan to restore democracy in Haiti and secure the return of President Aristide (Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Haiti, 1994). In 1994, Bill Clinton explained in a televised broadcast why he had ordered troops into Haiti. In keeping with the liberalism theory, he stated that it would be a wise security investment to restore democracy there because democracies here are more likely to keep the peace. (The Economist, 1995, p. 17)

Another aspect of normative liberalism is the fact that it deals explicitly with states. Liberal states will seek to confront the threats of authoritarian states. Therefore, the U.S. will seek to punish the Haitian government. The theory attempts to explain that interstate relations account for the wide reach of liberal peace, with non-exclusion of liberal states in a non-liberal region such as, Central America (Art and Jervis, Kant, liberal Legacies, and Foreign Affairs , 1996). The latter characterizes the situation of Haiti, where the question then is how individuals within that state are dealt with when liberty is denied by the repressive government.

Due to the fact that normative liberalism deals unequivocally with states, in accordance with the theory democratic nations can only help or hurt other states as a whole, and gives no mention to the individuals within a state. Therefore, a hypothesis that can be deduced with regards to the Haitian refugee situation is that the unrepresentated people had to be forcibly returned in order to be helped. This is suggested by the U.S. policy of interdiction and repatriation of the boat people. The repressed Haitians must suffer in their authoritarian state until democracy can somehow be restored there. By returning the individual Haitians to their homeland, the U.S. was in fact taking steps to not undermine the belief and prospect that Haiti would one day in fact reestablish itself as a civil society, allowing its citizens to flourish. During the brief time that President Arsitide governed Haiti, the U.S. did not encounter any cases of Haitian fleeing the country because of repression. To the contrary, hundreds of Haitians returned to the land of their birth while many more maintain that their hope is to return to their homeland, once democracy has been reestablished and the will of the people respected.

According to normative liberalism, the Haitian government under Avril s military rule would be characterized as an authoritarian state, one that does not share the same norms as the democratic U.S. The military government declared a state of siege and did not allow for the democratic electoral process to progress. They adopted numerous practices of denying basic human rights of its citizens, using both repression and severe violence, causing, and countless numbers of its citizens to flee and seek refuge in the U.S. Unfortunately, when these people were returned to Haiti, they would endure harsh punishment for having tried to escape (Silencing A People, 1993). Therefore, under these conditions, Haiti was in a position of violating the norms, and a hypothesis that can be deduced is that the repressive Haitian government would have to be punished. The U.S. would enact its doctrine to act internationally according to its domestic norms and will in turn punish those who violate their norms.

The first piece of evidence that supports the first hypothesis is the issuing of annual State Dept. reports on the situation in Haiti, including fact-finding missions by the U.N. Commission on Human Rights. For the most part, the State Dept. annual reports (beginning in 1989) stressed that the Avril government had much to do to convince the Haitian people and the international community of its commitment to hold free elections and to respect human rights. Thus confirms the State Dept. s firm dedication to monitoring and condemning the actions of the Haitian government. The U.N. Commission on Human Rights was one important candidate that the Bush administration used to continue to pressure the Haitian military to respect human rights. Due to this Commission, the U.S. supported the appointment of an expert to provide advisory services to promote human rights in Haiti. In addition, the U.S. endorsed a resolution to condemn Haitian human rights violations by appointing a special reporter to investigate and report on abuses (Reverting to Despotism, 1990). All of these things suggest merciless effort on behalf of the U.S. to pressure the Haitian government into changing its ways.

On the other hand, there is evidence that disconfirms these findings and hence, the first hypothesis. The State Dept. tended to pull punches in attributing abuses to Avril. In addition, pleading a lack of influence in Port-au-Prince, the Bush administration made little progress in securing that deployment of an international observer mission, which would have deterred attacks on civil society (Reverting to Despotism, 1990).

The next piece of evidence that supports the first hypothesis includes the U.S. efforts to ensure free elections in Haiti, as well as to condemn the human rights violators. On January 21, the day after the Avril government declared a state of siege and preceded to arrest, beat and expel opposition leaders, the State Dept.:

Called on the government of Haiti to move quickly to rescind the extraordinary measures taken and to restore faith in the democratic process in accordance with the wishes of the Haitian people as expressed in their constitution. (Reverting to Despotism, 1990, p. 129)

This strong reaffirmation of the U.S. commitment to the crisis in Haiti and to free elections there, were key to showing Avril that declaring a state of siege would not be taken as an excuse to postpone elections. Once again, these efforts indicate the U.S conviction to help the citizens of Haiti by pressuring the state, while at the same time sticking to its policy of interdiction of the refugees.

Nonetheless, there are several pieces of evidence that disconfirm this point of view and therefore, the first hypothesis. The first issue is President Reagan s policy of silence, which in effect failed to recognize human rights violations and abuses of any kind that were brewing in Haiti. Next, the U.S. practice of interdiction and repatriation came under continuous attack by non-governmental human rights groups specifically, the human Rights Watch/Americas and the National Coalition for Haitian Refugees. They asserted that the practice was in violation of international law, specifically, the provision in Article1 (A) of the U.N. Protocol relating to the status of refugees (of which the U.S. is a party) 1 and Article 33 of the 1951 Convention, which provides:

No Contracting State shall expel or return a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.

The refuge advocates also argued that the practice of interdiction and repatriation was in violation of U.S. legislation, which forbids the refoulment or forced return of these who genuinely free persecution in their homeland (Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Haiti, 1994, p. 145). The human rights groups emphasized that by practicing this repatriation policy, the U.S. was contending that those fleeing were not suffering from systematic persecution. The repressive Haitian government, therefore, avoided condemnation by the U.S. The groups stated that the result was, a tacit agreement between the U.S. and the de facto leaders, that the refugees do not warrant attention or protection as long as each side benefits by ignoring their plight. (Terror Prevails in Haiti, 1994, p. 38)

The final piece of evidence that supports the first hypothesis is the advances taken by the Clinton administration. Even before taking office, the Clinton team worked with Artiside to enlist the support of the U.N. to bolster the diplomatic efforts of the Organization of American States, which had previously been ineffectual (Silencing A People, 1993). Clinton stated that he would enact a global plan of restoring democracy in Haiti, along with the return of President Aristide (Report on the Human Rights Watch in Haiti, 1994). Thus, President Clinton s plans comply with the hypothesis that the refugees have to be forcibly returned to Haiti in order to be helped and that the U.S. must take action to aid the state in order to aid the individual.

Although President Clinton s strategies seem unblemished, there is evidence to the contrary. Human rights groups condemned the President s radio announcement as violations of both international law and U.S. law. Stating that it is unlawful to return the refugees and expose them to reprisals without giving them an opportunity to establish their eligibility for political asylum (Report on the Human Rights Watch, 1994).

The first piece of evidence that supports the first hypothesis is the advances taken by the Clinton administration. Even before taking office, the Clinton team worked with Aristide to enlist the support of the U.N. to bolster the diplomatic efforts of the Organization of American States, which had previously been ineffectual (Silencing A People, 1993). Clinton stated that he would continue to implement the policy of interdiction and repatriation of the refugees. He also pledged that his administration would enact a global plan of restoring democracy in Haiti, along with the return of President Aristide (Report on the Human Rights Watch in Haiti, 1994). Thus, President Clinton s plans comply with the hypothesis that the refugees have to be forcibly returned to Haiti in order to be helped and that the U.S. must take action to aid the state in order to aid the individual.

Although President Clinton s strategies seem unblemished, there is evidence to the contrary. Human rights groups condemned the President s radio announcement as violations of both international law and U.S. law. Stating that it is unlawful to return the refugees and expose them to reprisals without giving them an opportunity to establish their eligibility for political asylum (Report on the Human Rights Watch, 1994).

The first piece of evidence that supports the second hypothesis that the U.S. would punish the Haitian government for violating the norms of liberalism is the suspension of aid given to Haiti following the aborted November 1987 elections. There was a firm resolve not to deliver any sort of aid to Haiti until significant progress was made in respecting human rights and inaugurating an elected civilian government. At the time, the Avril government seemed willing to tolerate carrying out the conditions necessary to ensure U.S. aid, making the suspension of aid a major economic incentive for the military government to change its way.

However, there is evidence to disconfirm this notion. There were several instances where the aid suspension was lifted when in fact there were few signs that Avril s government was complying with the terms needed for the restoration of aid. For example, the Bush administration pressed Congress to resume direct aid to Haiti as a reward for the progress that General Avril was said to have made. 2 However, Avril s developments were considerably short of the conditions for the restoration of aid set by the State Dept. Despite these shortcomings, Congress agreed to permit $10 million in food-aid to the Haitian government. In addition, the Bush administration also provided funds to the Haitian government for what was called a small anti-narcotics program. (Reverting to Despotism, 1990, p. 124, 135). Bush s policy thus exhibited instances in which there were restorations of aid when it was not warranted.

Additional evidence supporting the second hypothesis is with regards to the punishments of human rights abusers in Haiti. On January 24, 1992, the State Dept. issued a statement protesting the restrictions imposed on the Haitian press two days prior. The State Dept. spokeswoman called these restrictions a blatant assault on basic civil liberties, and urged the Haitian government to cease any actions which infringe upon freedom of speech and other basic human rights. Furthermore, in an important development, the State Dept. announced those responsible for the beatings of arrested opposition leaders, journalists, and human rights leaders should be punished. The declaration of the need to prosecute human rights abusers was a major breakthrough for the administration that had previously adopted a policy of public silence regarding such issues (Reverting to Despotism, 1990).

A piece of evidence that disconfirms this ideology, and hence the second hypothesis is the Reagan administration s reaction to the September 11, 1988 attack on St. Jean Bosco church in which 12 were killed and 77 wounded. Initially the administration called on the military government to investigate, apprehend, and punish the attackers. But, ultimately, there was no follow up to the appeal whatsoever (The More Things Change 1989, p. 42-44). This demonstrates a lack of concern for the human rights violations in Haiti.

The normative liberalism theory explains some aspects of the policies enacted by the U.S. concerning the crisis in Haiti. However, it also explains why it fails. We can examine this by reflecting on actual historical records. First, normative liberalism would assume that the State Dept s. annual reports would take an uncompromising stand. But, in reality we see that this is not exactly how the reports were written. Overall, the reports spoke only in terms of the need for elections and showed a serious lack of attention on human rights issues that were plaguing the country. Evidence also shows that the State Dept. in fact painted a rosy picture of the Avril government s human rights record in its reports. The State Dept. s eagerness to portray human rights in this falsely positive light suggested a willingness to color the facts in order to facilitate the easing of restrictions on U.S. aid to the Haitian government (The More Things Change 1989).

In the second place, as far as human rights group s attacks on the U.S. policy of interdiction and repatriation of the refugees, evidence indicates that the organizations were unfounded in their accusations that the U.S. was violating both international law and U.S. legislation. On June 21st, 1993, the Supreme Court ruled that there was no limitation on the President s power to repatriate undocumented aliens intercepted on the high seas and that the right to non-refoulement applies only to aliens who are physically present in the host country. (Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Haiti, 1994, p. 147) As it stood during the flood of Haitian cruises , there was no remedy within the U.S. for individuals intercepted at sea. Therefore, refugees could be repatriated without being given a chance to make their case for asylum unless there was a change made in Congress. But, until then, the U.S. policy of interdiction and repatriation of the Haitian refugees remains legitimate. Regardless of how one interprets adherence to legality, the U.S. was still abiding by its own set of liberal laws.

Next, the actions taken by the Clinton administration demonstrate clear conjunction with normative liberalism. President Clinton kept his word that the U.S. would restore democracy in Haiti. In 1994 he sent 20,000 American troops into which resulted in the reinstatement of President Aristide and the liberation of the country (Denver Rocky Mountain News, 1997). In a state of the union address regarding the situation he said, Unfortunately the best strategy to ensure our security and to build a durable peace is to support the advance of democracy elsewhere. Democracies don t fight each other. (The Economist, 1995) This account is undoubtedly evidence in favor of the theory.

Nevertheless, as far as aid suspension being adequate punishment to the Haitian government for violation of norms, as shown earlier, there is little evidence that suggests this was due to the restoration of aid when it wasn t merited. Evidence suggests that aside from being a punishment mechanism, the suspension of aid was used more as a tool to avoid acknowledging the human rights nightmare in Haiti. For example, after the U.S. imposed economic sanctions on Haiti on October 29, 1991 there was no public denunciation of human rights abuses by the State Dept. or the U.S. Embassy in Port-Au-Prince for quite some time (Return to Darkest Days, 1991). Also, it is possible that the aid suspension led to poor economic conditions in Haiti, which could have been suggested that a major reason why the Bush administration did not condemn the human rights abuses was because it feared that by doing so, they d be forcibly repatriated (Silencing A People, 1993). Consequently, under these circumstance4s, the theory of normative liberalism is damaged due to over whelming hypocrisy depicted in this scenario.

Finally, evidence regarding the punishment of human rights abuses suggests some ambivalence in U.S. policy. According to a report in 1996, there was a dispute over U.S. refusal to divulge evidence seized that would have been used to prosecute those responsible for abuses in Haiti. U.S. Embassy spokesman, Stan Schrager, had this to say: we do intend to turn over all the documents, but we have a responsibility to protect the lives of U.S. citizens or Haitian civilians who might be in danger. These documents belong to the Haitian government, but these are legitimate concerns. He went on to say that the U.S. wanted assurance that access to the documents would be restricted and that they would be securely stored. Eventually, it was deemed that U.S. retention of the documents violated international law and it was called that they be immediately released to Haitian authorities (Orange County Register, 1996). On one level the U.S. did not have a right stand in the way of immediate prosecution of the guilty abusers. However, on another level the U.S. did have a conflict of interest with regards to the files and were justified in their actions. Overall, the U.S. expressed a desire for the abusers who were in violation of democratic norms to be rightfully punished, supporting the theory of normative liberalism.

In conclusion, testing the evidence against the theory presented mixed results, but broadly demonstrated normative liberalism politics achieving normative liberalism results. However, a more conclusive test of the theory might include the fact that only three years after U.S. troops liberated Haiti, the island proved itself to be a platform for policy failure. There was no functioning government, unemployment was running at 80%, and foreign aid (which financed 60% of Haiti s budget) was put on hold because there was no budget. In addition, when the last of U.N. peacekeeping troops were due to leave Haiti, the Haitians and Washington both, had little confidence in the ability for the national police force to replace them. Furthermore, in 1997, Pres. Rene Preval s administration were in fear of another military takeover of the government, similar to the one in 1991, but this time the coup would be led by former Pres. Aristide. Pro-Aristide council was also responsible for committing fraud in the elections, causing elections in Haiti to be postponed indefinitely. The island has been described as very tense and politically unstable. (Denver Rocky Mountain News, 1997) Though the U.S. still considered Haiti to be a land of foreign policy success , the pursuit of normative liberalism allows for unintended changes. Therefore, one question to pose is, does this mean that our understanding of normative liberalism as a theory needs to be revised in order to increase its explanatory power?

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