The following editorial appeared in Thursday's Washington Post:
The cause of democracy in the Western Hemisphere has a new hero: His name is Leon Manus. Mr. Manus is the 80-year-old jurist who headed the commission charged with ensuring that Haiti's May 21 parliamentary and local elections would be free and fair. International observers have determined that the vote count was manipulated to give 18 of 19 Senate seats to candidates of the Lavalas Family Party -- the party of President Rene Preval and his powerful mentor, former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Nevertheless, says Mr. Manus, top government officials ordered him to certify the results. Despite threats, he refused. Fearing for his life, he then fled to the United States. Mr. Preval found someone else to validate the vote count.
The Haitian government's stubborn refusal to back down from this fraudulent result could well have dire consequences for Haiti's impoverished people. Hundreds of millions of dollars in international financing have been withheld pending the elections. Now the United States, the European Union and Japan are appropriately threatening to withhold other aid unless Mr. Preval agrees to undo the phony vote count. So far, he says no. All indications are that Mr. Aristide plans to run for president later this year, and intends to take office with the parliament safely under his control. The national police force, recipient of millions of dollars in U.S. aid intended to create an apolitical crime-fighting apparatus, has already fallen under Lavalas' sway. A growing number of Haitians speak of a creeping Lavalas dictatorship.
Plainly, that isn't what the Clinton administration had in mind when it sent American troops to oust a military regime and restore Mr. Aristide to the presidency in 1994. The administration continues to work the diplomatic channels in hopes of averting failure in an undertaking it had previously labeled a foreign-policy success. Such claims were largely based on the fact that the brutal military was ousted at a cost of zero American lives -- and that the flow of Haitian refugees to U.S. shores ceased after the intervention. But if trends continue, political and economic decay may eventually undercut the latter achievement: Coast Guard figures indicate more Haitians have been intercepted en route to South Florida so far this year than in all of 1999.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.