Sunday, January 08, 2006

What's Going on in Haiti?

This is more than a little disturbing:
Found wearing boxer shorts and sandals, Lt.-Gen. Bacellar apparently killed himself as the multinational force is under increased pressure to curb violence in the Western Hemisphere's poorest country. The security situation has been unravelling in past weeks, with a rash of kidnappings hitting the capital. International election workers, journalists and ordinary Haitians have been among the victims.
...Lt.-Gen. Bacellar, who had served in Brazil's armed forces for 39 years, became commander of the multinational force in September, replacing Brazilian Lt.-Gen. Augusto Heleno Ribeiro, who had the force since its deployment to Haiti in June 2004.
...Election officials recently postponed the Jan. 8 election, blaming security problems and delays in distributing voting materials. It was the fourth such postponement of the vote. No new date has been set. It was not immediately clear what Lt.-Gen. Bacellar's death would have on the planning for a new election timetable.
...(He) is survived by his wife and two children.

Sen. Romeo Dallaire tried to commit suicide post-Rwanda, but that was after witnessing a terrible genocide he felt powerless to stop. Which leads to the question of just how bad is it in Haiti, anyway?

Of course, the commander's death is still under investigation, so yes, what appears to be a suicide at first may yet prove to have been a murder. But one way or another, this can't be the kind of situation Bush had hoped for when he helped oust Jean-Bertrand Aristide back in 2004. And this incident surely does not inspire confidence that the country is stable enough for a peace-keeping force to have a useful presence. (Right now Quebec has around 100 police and a couple dozen ex-cops down there, ostensibly to train Haitian police.)

Aristide was popularly elected and still hasn't conceded his presidency from exile. There are elements that want him re-instated, and they are kicking up a fuss. Depending on the resolve of the UN (and let's not forget Brazil and the other countries supporing the mission), this could be the type of shock that leads to the country falling into civil war.

One can't help but wonder what the Haitian-born Governor-General of Canada's opinion is, and if she might eventually become moved (and daring) enough to speak up about it; or at least to discreetly pick up the phone and give the Prime Minister her 2 cents.

One thing seems certain: Haiti did not get any closer to knowing peace today.

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