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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Haiti in Turmoil

A UMass Boston professor says that the crisis in Haiti isn’t going away and the world isn’t interested in helping.

On February 29, Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide resigned in haste and boarded a plane headed to the Central African Republic, escorted by his bodyguards and a score of U.S. Marines.

The president’s unexpected departure left a power vacuum that exacerbated an already volatile situation. Despite a new man in power, Guy Phillipe, Aristide is still calling himself the rightfully elected leader of Haiti. The United States, France, Canada, and Chile have collectively sent several thousand troops to protect key government installations.

Robert Prou, UMB Africana Studies professor and Haitian Studies Association chairman, elaborated on the processes guiding events in Haiti.

“People think it is a political crisis right now in the sense that it concerns many in society. It’s more a structural crisis,” argued professor Prou. “There’s a breakdown in all the institutions. The judicial system doesn’t work. You don’t have any form of military system or law and order, or police.

“The problems of Haiti cannot be solved without all the parties that are involved, and that have been involved to make it what it is right now,” explained Prou.

“Aristide was part of the problem, but he’s also part of the solution. He has to be held accountable for what’s happening in the country.”

The events of the previous month have garnered considerable attention among the international community and provoked much discussion on how to help Haiti rebuild its government and economy.

“In this day and age no country can just solve their own problems without any kind of assistance. Interdependence is a natural process, because we all interdepend,” reasoned professor Prou. “I think the international community should assist Haiti because they have interests in doing so, but in terms of perhaps dictating what to do, it becomes problematic.”

Casting doubt on altruistic intentions professed by some international leaders, Prou illustrated his understanding of international rationale for intervention.

“What’s in it for us? If you’re gonna carve the beef and then after leave us the bones and the skin, we’re not interested in that,” he said. “Let’s not be fooled that countries come in to help. It’s not a welfare system. The world is not that. It’s about interests and resources and profit.”

A number of world leaders and officials have expressed concern about the future political leadership of Haiti, as well as the precedent set by the removal of a democratically elected leader while the United States looked the other way.

A former priest, Aristide became Haiti’s first freely elected leader in 1990 but failed to fulfill his pledge to ease the grinding poverty and inequality found in Haiti. The money promised by the Clinton administration to revitalize the economy was cut off after dubious election results in 2000, leaving Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas with an average per capita income of $480, in an increasingly desperate economic situation.

Many have charged Aristide with choosing unsavory bedmates to retain political control.

“Under Aristide, Haiti blatantly became a hub of narcotics trafficking,” charged Representative Jerry Weller (R-Illinois) on Wednesday.

Indeed, the former president’s once broad support has eroded considerably due to widespread allegations of involvement, or tacit approval of, corruption, drug-trafficking, election rigging, and political violence orchestrated by chimeres, gangs of armed thugs loyal to the former leader.

Aristide’s main political opposition, a coalition known as Group 184, have denied involvement in the coup, though they profess shared goals with the rebels for a “democratic” Haiti.