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Clarifying Amnesty Offers Proposed in Haiti

November 3, 1993



The article ``UN Embargo Takes Its Toll on Haitians,'' Oct. 27, misrepresents the amnesty law that is currently before the Haitian parliament. Conservative legislators hostile to elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide have indeed submitted an amnesty bill to parliament. Their aim was emphatically not, however, to vote into law ``an amnesty decree granted by Fr. Aristide.''

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The Haitian president's decree ordered an amnesty for political crimes committed between the military coup of Sept. 30, 1991, and the UN-brokered Governors Island Accord of July 3, 1993. The bill before parliament, by contrast, would pardon ``all authors, co-authors and accomplices of the coup'' for all crimes committed ``during the period which extends from the coup dtat to the promulgation of the present law of Amnesty.'' Such an amnesty would even cover the Oct. 14 assassination of Justice Minister Guy Malary.

The article leaves the impression that Haitian conservatives were acting to implement the Governors Island Accord. In fact, they were acting yet again to subvert it. George Black, New York Editorial Director, Lawyers Committee for Human Rights Transition may include Castro

The Oct. 20 editorial ``US, Cuba After Castro,'' assumes that the US can do nothing to assist Cuba's transition to democracy until President Fidel Castro Ruz disappears. Actually Mr. Castro might be willing to negotiate a peaceful transition, with some face-saving measures. Surely that is a better option than the violence and bloodshed that may otherwise ensue.

The idea that the Florida Cubans can play a large part in the transition overlooks the fact that Cubans on the island are united in the determination not to allow those who fled to come back and take over, or even tell those who remained how to manage their affairs. Generosity, yes; interference, no. Jean LeRoy, Doswell, Va.