Lack of popular support led to Aristide's exile
Regarding Jeffrey D. Sachs' March 8 Opinion piece "Are those dirty US fingerprints on Aristide's ouster?": The controversy surrounding the departure of former Haiti President Jean-Bertrand Aristide into exile fails to address the most important issues - the popular nature of the uprising and the rapid disintegration of Aristide's security apparatus.
It's the insurrection of a great majority of the people that pushed the Bush administration to change its stance from supporting Aristide to acting to remove him. In fact, the Bush administration had little choice. For months the vital sectors of Haiti did not want to deal with Aristide anymore. It was apparent that those groups had reached a point of no return.
Aristide's mistake was to think that recognition from the international community was a blanket approval for his rule. He did not realize that on the national scene, all the forces were against his government. The Bush administration tried to cut a deal that would have permitted Aristide to stay in office until 2006, but it was too late.
In most Haitian towns the national police did not try to defend the government; most of the police, including their commanders, chose to run away instead. I blame low morale and poor equipment. How could Aristide expect them to defend his government while they were underpaid and mistreated?
We can always debate who gave the rebels their weapons and financing. But one thing is clear: They would not have had such success in their campaign if they did not find popular support.
Jean Frederic Theodore
Regarding your March 5 article "As life looks bleaker, suicide bombers get younger": Children do not commit acts of terrorism because they are desperate. There are children all over this world who are abused, exploited, and more deprived than Palestinian children, and who have never tried to murder other people. Palestinian children commit acts of terror because their society encourages it. Glorification of terrorists permeates Palestinian street names, soccer tournaments, and official Palestinian Authority statements. The constant refrain that heaven awaits the child terrorist is what creates this new breed of young bombers.
Jonathan D. Reich
Assistant Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, University of Florida School of Medicine
Regarding Mary Hooper's delightful March 4 essay "Remember, not every word is always what it seems to be": I was particularly interested in her comment about the word crepuscular: "When I'd encounter this word, it usually was in reference to twilight or daybreak ... For I assumed that it meant what it sounds like: creepy, crawly, disgusting, slimy."
My first introduction to this word came by way of jazz composer-pianist Thelonious Monk's lyrical ballad in tribute to his wife. He called it "Crepuscule with Nellie." The sound of Monk's music in connection with the sound of the word itself conjured up images that were anything but "creepy, crawly, disgusting, slimy."
Regarding your March 9 article "More demands, fewer counselors": I have always wondered why no one addressed this issue when school violence escalated. If there were reasonable counselor-to-student ratios, then many children in crisis could be found and helped. Why has no one realized this?
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