In a briefing paper prepared for American military commanders on security challenges in Latin America, Gabriel Marcella of the U.S. Army War College has warned that violence-racked...
In a briefing paper prepared for American military commanders on security challenges in Latin America, Gabriel Marcella of the U.S. Army War College has warned that violence-racked Haiti was undergoing an implosion and suggested that an international protectorate might be the only way to contain the disaster.
“Haiti’s violence is the consequence of a predatory state, a nonexistent political culture, economic collapse and ecological destruction,” Marcella wrote in the November advisory. “Long-term measures are necessary, to the point of considering Haiti for protectorate status under a Brazilian-led regional coalition, if one can be created that is willing to support a 10-year restoration initiative.”
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In an interview, Marcella said the efforts of U.N. peacekeepers and international aid agencies since the exile of President Jean Bertrand Aristide in late February were helpful but insufficient. Neither has tackled such long-term goals as revitalizing schools, roads, hospitals and agriculture, he said.
The U.N. forces are responsible only for enhancing security. Their six-month mandate, which began in June and was recently extended for another six months, lacks any long-term strategic planning.
The protectorate idea, tantamount to foreign occupation that could last at least a decade, has ignited more enthusiasm among Haitian intellectuals than might have been expected in a year marking the bicentennial of the country’s independence, but also marked by armed rebellion, repression and catastrophic floods that killed at least 5,000.
“People are exasperated and exhausted. If you took a poll, 65 percent to 70 percent of the population would support a protectorate,” said economist Claude Beauboeuf.
Unguarded borders, a corrupt and overwhelmed police force and armed gangs eager to collaborate with well-heeled smugglers of guns and drugs could make this country a fertile ground for terrorists, Beauboeuf said.
“Haiti is not a strategic threat [to the United States] now,” he said, “but we should not underestimate its potential to become one.”
Politicians and historians note that one of the few periods of stability in Haiti stemmed from a 1915-34 U.S. occupation.
“There is a strong nationalistic current in this country because of our history, but the bottom line is that people are more interested in better living conditions than in the abstract concept of sovereignty,” said Michel Georges, a fruit exporter from Cap Haitien.
Caribbean political analysts such as Daniel Erikson of the Inter-American Dialogue, a think tank in Washington, wondered who would undertake a protectorate. Noting that the United States already is “resource restrained” in Iraq, Erikson said responsibility for any U.N. protectorate in Haiti would fall to Latin American countries, and that “Latin America as a whole tends to be a little bit uncomfortable with interventions.”