UN Ponders Measures to Tighten Noose on Haitian Military
PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI — NEGOTIATIONS for Haiti's future switched political arenas over the weekend as United Nations Special Envoy Dante Caputo and members of Haiti's Cabinet travelled to the United States. Mr. Caputo was scheduled to consult with the UN Security Council this morning.
The discussion is expected to focus on what can be done to salvage a plan to restore ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to power.
Measures being considered are expanding the current UN arms and oil embargo to a complete commercial embargo, placing military patrols on the Dominican Republic border, and canceling all commercial air traffic.
The UN has blamed the military for the failure of a July 3 accord that would have allowed the democratically elected Fr. Aristide to return to Haiti Oct. 30.
The Haitian military's boycott last week of a meeting with Prime Minister Robert Malval, Mr. Caputo, members of parliament, and diplomats was yet another slap in the face to Caputo, who has been working on Aristide's return since February.
Aristide suppoters are demanding tougher action to pressure the Army. ``Target all the military officers and their families,'' urged an adviser to the Malval government, who estimates that of the 7000-man Haitian military 1,000 are officers. A harder line
``Cancel their visas immediately, and close the border. Then you'd see some action. They'd immediately press [Army chief Lt. Gen. Raoul] Cedras to resign,'' he adds.
According to the July 3 agreement, General Cedras' resignation and that of Police Chief Michel Francois are prerequisites for Aristide's return.
But the two men haven't resigned and the military shows no sign of shrinking away. Along with their paid civilian counterparts, officers still freely roam the streets during the day. Evening activity here consists of a cacophony of gunfire. Shortages take hold
Meanwhile streets and gas tanks are becoming progressively more empty, and people more hungry with each passing day. The cost of public transportation, when available, has increased five-fold. Gasoline on the black market is up from $1.55 to $11.00 per gallon.
On Tuesday, Haiti's military-backed court ordered Shell and Exxon to sell their petroleum reserves.
But as of press time, gas stations were still not open.
Strengthening sanctions on what is already diagnosed as the poorest country in the western hemisphere became even more controversial this week after reports appeared on a new Harvard University study on the impact of sanctions here.
A New York Times article said the study found an additional 1,000 children are dying each month because sanctions have limited the availability of food and medicine.
The study itself places the blame more broadly. A summary available here says: ``The human toll over this crisis period has resulted from a myriad of factors, including government mismanagement, economic and agricultural disruptions, population movements, economic sanctions, and humanitarian neglect.''
UN officials defended the sanctions. ``We know there's been a worsening of health conditions in Haiti,'' says UN spokesman Eric Falt, ``but not as a result of the sanctions. Rather it's from the 1991 coup.''