Monday, July 10, 2006

Haiti: After the Elections

Monday, June 19th, 2006 2:00 PM – 3:30 PM

Speakers: Mark Schneider, Senior Vice President and Special Advisor on Latin American and the Caribbean for International Crisis Group
Tim Carney, US Foreign Ambassador to Haiti

Mark Schneider outlined Haiti’s current situation, a country in danger of becoming a failed state. Currently, Haiti is the hemisphere’s poorest country and has the highest mortality rate. In May, Rene Préval took office as president after winning the elections in February. He took the place of Aristide. The elections had a strong voter turnout, marking success for a country that mostly boycotted Aristide’s 2004 re-election. Organized groups did not challenge the state in this election, and are currently quiet.
In Préval’s first hundred days in office, he needs to focus on five core issues. First, he needs to preserve security in the capital and keep urban gang violence low. Second, he needs to reform Haiti’s police force to decrease organized crime and drug traffickers. This includes ousting corrupt officers and breaking up police cells linked to political factions and gangs. Third, Préval needs to promote political cohesion by reaching out to his supporters and also to those who voted against him. He needs to assure that Aristide will not return and undermine the fragile peace and he also needs to address the issue of poverty. Fourth, he needs to focus on economic renewal. This encompasses electricity, education, employment, and looking at the issues of the neglected poor. Finally, he needs to instigate judicial reform by creating an international and national panel that will review cases of political prisoners who have yet to have a trial.
Tim Carney then presented views on the current Haitian status. Two major changes that can increase the success and stability of Haiti are to have the whole hemisphere engaged on one course of action, the same course of action. Second, there needs to be a continuing European interest in the progress of Haiti, especially looking to Spain for this.
Like Schneider, he saw certain challenges in security, the police force, and judicial policy. He believed that the role of the UN in Haitian development should be helping to establish security so they will not have to reside for an extended period of time. It is in Haiti’s best interest to rule independently, so the quicker that the UN can develop a stable state, the better. He saw the refugee situation as problematic, as he did for the huge drug trafficking problem. To consolidate the Préval administration, he needs to address impunity and the special treatment that members of the elite are unfairly given.
This presentation was followed by a short question and answer session.

by Rebecca Bonardi

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