Haitian Americans in New York Divided Over Pact
WASHINGTON — FOR the most part, Haitian immigrants are hailing the peaceful settlement of the crisis in their native country.
At Radio Tropicale, a Haitian radio station in New York City, switchboard operator Joseph Borgella reports that ``everybody's happy, more or less'' with an agreement that both sides can claim is a victory. He says the only unhappy callers have been some supporters of Jean-Betrand Aristide, who wanted to see the exiled president return to office right away instead of Oct. 15.
But at Radio Soleil, another New York Creole-language station, many of the pro-Aristide callers are upset that Lt. Gen. Raoul Cedras will remain in the country and in power until Oct. 15.
``I've heard them on the radio expressing their anger,'' says Raymond Joseph, the co-publisher of the Haitian Observateur, a Haitian newspaper based in New York City.
In Miami, some of this anger spilled over onto the streets. About 75 people blocked a street in the city's Little Haiti neighborhood for about two hours on Sunday night after the announcement. Many shouted ``Cedras must go.''
This was also the feeling of many Haitians in Brooklyn socializing on the street yesterday morning. ``Cedras is a criminal; he should leave yesterday,'' said Jean Byrhon, on Nostrand Avenue. Another resident, Jean Lesly, added: ``Oct. 15 is too long - the guy's got a lot of time to do whatever he wants.'' Mr. Lesly stated the United States should have gone ahead and invaded Haiti.
But many Haitians agreed with Jean Dorvelus, of Brooklyn, who was happy not to see blood spilled. ``Too many people will die if we have an invasion,'' he said.
Mr. Joseph is also glad not to see any bloodshed. But he adds, ``it remains to be seen how [the pact] is implemented.''
THE agreement brokered by former President Carter was especially pleasing to anti-invasion groups.
``I am very pleased with the outcome - it will make the Aristide people happy and at the same time, with the [US] military forces in Haiti, will give an opportunity for law and order,'' says Fritz Monfleury, a Haitian American who demonstrated against the invasion on Sunday.
Anti-Aristide sides also were pleased with the arrangement. ``It is a good and wise decision,'' says Jean-Pierre Alcindor, who was part of a coalition of anti-invasion forces. He says he has no doubt that General Cedras will leave. ``The overwhelming reaction of the Cedras side is that it is better that Cedras leave office with honor,'' he states.
Despite the presence of US troops, Mr. Alcindor is not optimistic that Haiti will become a democracy. ``The situation in Haiti will be very fluid,'' he explains.
Despite skepticism, many Haitians are pleased to see the embargo ending. The US had cut off the flow of funds from the US to Haiti as well as the shipment of almost all goods.
Relatives count on the money sent from the US. ``The only reason for the flow of refugees was the economic embargo,'' says Mr. Monfleury, who has been trying to send money to a brother who is still in Haiti. ``These people are poor,'' he explains, ``and it has not been fair for them to suffer.''