UN Threatens To Strengthen Haiti Embargo

By , Special to The Christian Science Monitor

WHAT will it take to convince Haiti's military leaders to make way for democratic rule?

Some analysts say only outside military intervention will work. Yet no nation, including the United States, appears interested in the job.

The United Nations Security Council, closely involved in Haiti's struggle for democracy since the UN-monitored 1990 elections that brought Jean-Bertrand Aristide to the presidency, is continuing to rely on economic and diplomatic pressure.

Recommended: Where does Haiti stand three years after its 7.0 earthquake?

A statement approved Nov. 15 by Council President Jose Luis Jesus warns that the existing arms and oil embargo against Haiti will remain, and stronger measures may be considered if Haitian military authorities continue to block President Aristide's return.

The Clinton administration has been reluctant to move to any tighter embargo that, it argues, would hurt Haiti's masses far more than its military leaders.

Still, Security Council President Jesus insists, ``The possibility of additional sanctions is always there. This is a process, and one has to take one step at a time.''

The Council statement holds the military authorities ``fully responsible'' for the suffering experienced by Haiti's people.

Most UN peacekeeping, human rights, and international relief personnel left Haiti Oct. 12 after port demonstrations sparked an abrupt withdrawal of a US transport ship carrying US and Canadian peacekeepers and engineers. In a closed session of the Security Council on Nov. 12, UN Special Envoy Dante Caputo criticized the US decision to retreat and urged the early return of UN personnel to Haiti.

Some analysts say that Haiti has become so politically polarized since the troop pullback and the failure of Haiti's Army leaders to keep the commitment they made in July at Governors Island to resign, that the traditional solution of returning Aristide and his team to power may no longer be viable. There is renewed talk these days of an old idea: creation of a broad-based Haitian government of national reconciliation.

``I think eventually some kind of a compromise will have to be found,'' says Martin Poblete, a Latin American specialist with New Jersey's Rutgers University. ``Some kind of internal agreement that brings together all the different political forces - not just the supporters of Aristide and those who support the current regime - would be the ideal way out.''

Mark Falcoff, a Latin American expert with the American Enterprise Institute in Washington says, ``Unless we're prepared to occupy the country and turn it into a trusteeship, probably the kind of settlement we're going to have to have in Haiti is one that a lot of people aren't going to like.''

Though Aristide's Cabinet is largely from the left wing of Haiti's political spectrum, the exiled president and his supporters have shown little interest in political compromise. For now the UN Security Council is fully supportive. The Nov. 15 presidential statement reaffirms the Council's strong backing for Aristide and terms the UN-brokered Governors Island Accord ``the only valid framework'' for resolving the Haitian crisis.

But Professor Poblete argues that the UN could do much to promote a workable compromise. ``The UN would have to completely redesign its operation,'' he notes. ``The main focus would have to shift from the return of Aristide to the return of stability, with or without Aristide.''

Some analysts point to another possible scenario: a deep split within Haitian military ranks. But Ernest Preeg, a former US ambassador to Haiti and an international business expert with the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, warns that unless outside troops were brought in to maintain law and order, the result might be anarchy and widespread violence, rather than a gain for democ- racy.

Dr. Preeg argues that tightening the squeeze of sanctions in Haiti could have a similarly devastating effect. ``It's just an extremely dangerous and volatile situation,'' he says.

The UN General Assembly has scheduled a debate on Haiti's problems Nov. 18.

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