Myths Hurt Haiti's Chance for Democracy

Regarding the opinion-page article ``Haiti's Democratic Dreams,'' Feb. 23: Despite the author's credentials, this article merely expounds on the following several myths widely cultivated by those opposed to establishment of true democracy in Haiti:

1. The embargo is hurting mainly the poor of Haiti and causing them to migrate (implying that the embargo has been responsible for more damage to the poor than has the military repression).

2. President Jean-Bertrand Aristide brought on the coup by his lack of respect for democratic norms and his encouragement of human rights abuses.

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3. Haitians lack the civic values that make democratic institutions work.

Evidently, these unsubstantiated themes have gained such widespread acceptance in United States public opinion that their justification is not even considered necessary. What is new in the present article is the expressed alarm that excessive US concern for ``democracy'' in Haiti is responsible for its unsuccessful Haiti policy.

Clearly, there is a difference between the promotion of ``liberal Western political and economic institutions'' (doing it our way) and promotion of ``democracy'' (the people's choice, at the risk of vested interests).

Maybe US foreign policy would become more consistent and effective if government spokesmen had to be cautious about pronouncements that they can't really back up.

Our US press could help by devoting more attention to the facts behind the statements. Sherley David, Boston, Mass., Haiti Communications Project

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