THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
FACT SHEET ON HAITI
THE ROAD FROM DICTATORSHIP TO DEMOCRACY
AMERICAN LEADERSHIP and the perseverance of the Haitian people has helped restore democracy to Haiti and provided concrete hope for a better future. The inauguration of Rene Preval as Haiti's new President on February 7, succeeding President Jean Bertrand Aristide, represented the first peaceful transfer of power from one democratically-elected President to another in Haiti's almost 200-year history. The United States is proud to have helped return democracy to Haiti and given it a chance to take hold.
America's decisive action helped to:
PRESIDENT CLINTON'S promise to the American people regarding Haiti is being realized:
When President Clinton ordered over 23,000 U.S. troops to Haiti on September 19, 1994 to lead the multinational Operation "Restore Democracy", he stated the mission would be limited in scope and duration.
On March 31, 1995, the U.S.-led Multinational Force was transitioned (or was reduced) to the 6000-man United Nations Mission in Haiti(UNMIH), 2500 of whom were Americans. The 2500 U.S. soldiers began their redeployment from Haiti in December, 1995. U.S. operational participation in UNMIH ended when the original UN mandate expired on February 29, 1996. The bulk of U.S. UNMIH troops now have returned to their home stations in the United States. The President just visited Fort Polk, Louisiana where he greeted returning forces. The remainder will be home by mid-April.
U.S. troops and their civilian and international military counterparts have given the people of Haiti the chance to restore their democracy and work toward a more secure and prosperous future. Specifically, they have: Confiscated or bought-back more than 30,000 firearms and individual explosive devices; Maintained a secure and stable environment as the brutal FAd'H (Haiti's former military) was disbanded; Provided security, technical expertise and logistical support for democratic elections nationwide; and Supported the development of the new, civilian police force to assume security and law enforcement responsibilities throughout Haiti.
Today, as U.S. military participation in UNMIH comes to a close, the Government of Canada has stepped forward to take charge of the mission under United Nations auspices. This new, smaller UNMIH military component will remain in Haiti for an additional four months, until the end of June.
President Preval and the democratically-elected Haitian Parliament have affirmed his commitment: to sustain and extend the development of a professional and uncorrupted police and security establishment; to intensify judicial reforms; and to put into place sound economic development plans that will benefit the Haitian people and attract foreign and domestic investment as well as assistance from the international donor community.
Under the leadership of President Preval and his government, the Haitian people now face the challenges of building a better future for themselves and their country. The United States is proud to have played an important role in enabling the Haitian people to face these challenges, and will continue its support for Haiti's restored democracy and critical economic growth.
THEN AND NOW
Haiti has made remarkable progress since the U.S.-led Multinational Force deployed to Hispaniola in September 1994. The difference between then and now is dramatic:
BEFORE September 1994, Haiti was ruled by a brutal, corrupt military regime which preyed upon its own people.
NOW, the peaceful, democratic transfer of power on February 7 from President Aristide to his elected successor, Rene Preval, was an historic event that will further cement Haiti's place among the community of democratic nations. Since the September 1994 arrival of the Multinational Force, Haiti has conducted three rounds of national elections -- for local governments, for Parliament, and for President.
BEFORE, Haiti's military dictators ruled through terror. Rape, torture and murder were routine instruments of governance. NOW, the Haitian people have a government committed to respecting basic human rights, and is developing the kind of law enforcement and judicial structures necessary to ensure the Rule of Law prevails. The Haitian military has been disbanded and the feared paramilitary organizations such as FRAPH have been eliminated. With U.S. help, a new, civilian police force is being trained and deployed to protect and serve the Haitian people, rather than to exploit and abuse them.
BEFORE, thousands of refugees risked their lives at sea to get to the United States in an effort to escape Haiti's oppression.
NOW, the flow of migrants from Haiti has decreased dramatically. The serious crisis prompted by massive waves of Haitian refugees has been eliminated.
BEFORE, the Haitian economy was in decline. In the last year alone of the dictatorship, GDP declined 11 percent, inflation rose to 40 percent, and public sector deficit skyrocketed to 6 percent of GDP.
NOW, Haiti's economy is slowly recovering from the coup years. In the first twelve months after the restoration of Haiti's democratically-elected government, the economy expanded by over 5 percent. Inflation has been cut almost in half. Export assembly operations, which were completely closed down in September 1994, came back to life and now employ over 12,000 people.
A CHRONOLOGY OF SUCCESS December 16, 1990: Jean Bertrand Aristide is elected President of Haiti in a free election.
September 29-30, 1991: A coup topples the Aristide government and installs a brutal military regime.
October 1, 1991 to September 18, 1994: Thousands of people are killed by or with the complicity of the coup government.
September 19,1994: The American-led Multinational Force (MNF) launched Operation ?Restore Democracy? in Haiti.
October 15, 1994: President Aristide returns to Haiti accompanied by U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher, U.S. Congressional leaders and other foreign dignitaries for welcoming ceremonies in Port-au-Prince. Aristide calls for reconciliation among all Haitians.
October 21, 1994: The Haitian Senate passes a bill outlawing paramilitary groups.
November 30, 1994: The MNF reports it has collected 14,943 weapons; 1,72O Haitians had graduated from the Interim Public Security Force (IPSF) police training courses; 8,670 U.S. troops remain in Haiti.
December, 1994: The Haitian Government takes several important steps to reform key institutions, including the appointment of a new supreme court, and the separation and reorganization of police and army units.
December 21, 1994: The Government of Haiti announces the appointment of the last of nine members of the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP), which opens the way for Haiti to begin the election process for legislative, municipal and local elections.
January 4, 1995: MNF Commander, General Meade, declares that a secure and stable environment exists in Haiti, one of the requirements necessary to transition from the MNF to the United Nations Mission in Haiti (UNMIH).
January 17, 1995: President Aristide officially dismisses the remainder of the Haitian army. U.S. Secretary of Defense Perry pronounces Haiti secure and stable for turnover to the UNMIH forces, which will replace the MNF by March 31, 1995.
January 30, 1995: The UN Security Council passes Resolution 975 to transfer the Haitian peacekeeping mission from the MNF to UNMIH effective March 31, 1995.
January 31, 1995: In Paris, the World Bank and international agencies from 20 countries pledge $1.2 billion dollars in assistance for Haiti's economic recovery.
March 31, 1995: President Clinton and other dignitaries attend ceremonies in Port-au-Prince transferring operations from the MNF to UNMIH. Major General Joseph W. Kinzer, USA, assumes command of all U.S. and UN forces in Haiti.
June 4, 1995: President Aristide and Secretary of State Christopher address the first 357 graduates of the Haitian National Police training program and announce that the program to train new police will be doubled in order to field over 5,000 police officers by March 1996.
June 5, 1995: The Organization of American States (OAS) General Assembly begins its session in Port-au-Prince, demonstrating regional support for democracy in Haiti.
June 25, 1995: Haiti holds first round of national elections for which more than 3.5 Haitians registered to vote for some 10,000 candidates to fill over 2,000 local and national offices.
August 13, 1995: Haiti holds make-up elections in 21 towns including Port-au-Prince. Voter turnout isn't high, but procedural complications have declined since the June 25 round.
September 17, 1995: UNMIH forces provide security and logistical support to the conduct of run-off elections throughout Haiti. 68 Parliamentary races are contested, 60 for the Chamber of Deputies and 8 for the Senate. Elections are violence-free and improved administratively, though voter turnout is low.
October 15, 1995: To commemorate the first anniversary of President Aristide's return to Haiti, Vice President Gore attends ceremonies in Port-au-Prince and visits UNMIH troops.
December 12, 1995: The last class of Haitian National Police candidates to receive training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri graduates 758 members.
December 17, 1995: Haiti holds its Presidential election. Rene Preval is elected to succeed President Aristide.
February 7, 1996: Rene Preval inaugurated as the new President of Haiti, the first peaceful transfer of power from one civilian leader to another in Haiti's 192-year history.
March, 1996: The UN Security Council votes to extend the UNMIH mandate in Haiti for four months under Canadian military command and control. UN Special Representative Lakdhar Brahimi is replaced by Enrique Ter Horst of Venezuela. U.S. Major General Kinzer changes military command to Canadian Brigadier General Daigle and U.S. forces terminate operational missions as part of UNMIH.
March 18, 1996: President Clinton travels to Fort Polk, Louisiana to welcome U.S. troops home from Haiti and present military awards to representative service members.
March 19-21, 1996: President Preval and delegation travel to Washington for an official working visit and meet with President Clinton at the White House.
# # #