WASHINGTON — THE United States and the United Nations have fallen back on economic sanctions as the only way left to force Haiti's military to bring democracy back to the battered island nation.
The sanctions on oil and weapons go into effect Monday unless Haiti's military shifts gears and begins to show it plans to honor an accord to restore democracy, halt the murders of political opponents, and allow deposed President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to return to his elected office in Haiti from his exile in Washington.
``We have no other tools - sanctions are the only way to exert pressure short of armed intervention which no one supports,'' said a congressional source.
If the sanctions do not work quickly the US may work to tighten them. The UN could vote an air and naval blockade to ensure the economic strictures begin to bind the 7,000 man Haitian military and its allies, the 1,500 man police force, and an estimated 2,000 wealthy Haitian families.
``They are riding a tiger which may ultimately devour them. We urge them to reconsider their actions now,'' said Madeleine Albright, US ambassador to the UN.
However, State Department spokesman Mike McCurry estimated that Haiti still has a three-month stockpile of the most crucial commodity subject to embargo, oil. Thus it is unclear when or if the sanctions will prove effective.
The measures voted include an embargo on oil and arms, as well as a freezing of the assets of the authorities now running the country. Food and fuel used for cooking and humanitarian purposes are exempted.
IMILAR sanctions had been suspended in late August, after Haitian military chief Lt. Gen. Raoul Cedras signed an accord on July 3 at Governor's Island, New York, to restore Reverend Aristide to power by October 30. General Cedras was expected to quit by Oct. 15 and the feared police chief Lt. Col. Michel Francois was to be replaced.
But since the accord was signed, armed thugs called ``attaches'' linked to the police have killed an estimated 100 supporters of Aristide and prevented the landing of US and Canadian military engineers pursuant to the Governor's Island agreement.
The special US negotiator for Haiti, Lawrence Pezzullo, gave a closed briefing Wednesday for the House Foreign Affairs Committee at which he reportedly said the administration has not given up hope on the accord.
``But some people here think the whole plan was a dodge,'' said the congressional source. ``We should not put in peacekeepers until we are sure the military will live up to the agreement.''
``The situation is not very encouraging,'' admitted a State Department official.
By now, Haitians with ties to the military have shifted their assets into secret offshore accounts and anonymous companies, he admitted.