The political administration of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide has been the cause of recent anti-government protests in Haiti.
Aristide, a former Roman Catholic priest, was Haiti’s first freely elected leader in a landslide election in 1990. The United States helped Aristide claim the presidency a decade ago, but American officials are now internally debating about how to end his presidency and stop uprisings peacefully.
Concern for the Haitian people and the stability of their country has gripped the attention of some FAMU students.
“The people of Haiti are tired of political suppression and turmoil that stems from the fraudulent election of Aristide,” said Marie Triche, 20, a criminal justice student from Miami and a member of the Haitian Culture Club. “As a concerned student who has family members in Haiti, I am praying for a peaceful solution … I am suppose to be going to Haiti this summer with my family and I hope the violent riots will be over.”
Aristide has objected to the United States’ suggestion of holding early Haitian elections to appease his political opponents and said he would serve until his five-year term expires in February 2006. On Thursday Aristide said he was “ready to die” and will continue to defend his presidency and his country. He also said he would not give up power as demanded by political opponents and rebels in northern Haiti.
The United States has a long history of intervention in Haitian affairs. In 1994, 20,000 troops were sent to restore Aristide to power after he was ousted. This act has caused some students to question why the United States has not moved swiftly to intervene.
“I think there is a lack of democracy,” said Roshell Rosemond, 22. “Here in the United States we take democracy for granted, but in Haiti there are hundreds of people dying every day because they want their voice to be heard and they want their vote to count,” said the senior business administration student of Haitian descent from Fort Lauderdale.
“The United States put Aristide back in power and we should intervene and ensure fair elections and a peaceful transition of power.”
Aristide, who has survived three assassination attempts and the coup in 1994, has asked the international community to recognize him and his government as legitimate and that he is fighting for democracy against a band of terrorists.
Contact Malcolm Glover at firstname.lastname@example.org.