On Thursday, February 3, 2011, Canada's Globe and Mail national daily editorialized in favor of the continued, forced exile of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Two letters were subsequently published in reply to the editorial, by Aristide's legal representative, U.S. Attorney Ira Kurzban, and former CBC journalist Claude Adams. Below are the two letters and the original editorial.
Returning to Haiti
Globe and Mail letters to the editor, Saturday February 19, 2011
Re The Return Of The Polarizing Aristide (Feb. 3):
The Globe’s editorial calls deposed Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s pending return to Haiti an “unwelcome development” and urges that he “stay put in South Africa.”
He wants to come home, as a private citizen, and assist in Haiti’s enormous relief challenges. His return would be warmly greeted by the vast majority of Haitians, who elected him president by overwhelming margins in 1990 (67 per cent) and 2000 (91 per cent). Rather than “destabilizing” Haiti, Mr. Aristide’s return would energize and unite the Haitian people who look upon him as a sign of hope for their future.
Signed, Ira J Kurzban, lawyer for Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Miami
I find it curious that the Globe’s editorial board would urge the continued exile of former Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, even as it applauds the efforts of the Egyptian people to determine their own political future (Return Of A Polarizer – Feb. 3). You call him “unwelcome.” Surely not to the Haitian people, who elected him twice in a democratic vote. But you got one thing right. Mr. Aristide is indeed a polarizer. His “pole” is Haiti’s poor and dispossessed – the people who voted for him then lost him in an international coup.
Signed, Claude Adams, Surrey, B.C.
Globe and Mail Editorial: The return of the polarizing Aristide
Published on Thursday February 3, 2011
Haiti's politics are tormented enough; a homecoming of a divisive former president would make things worse
The return of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide to Haiti is an unwelcome development.
His homecoming will only add to the country's political turmoil, make the second round of disputed elections more contentious, and the orderly transition of power more difficult.
Mr. Aristide, a former Roman Catholic priest forced into exile, remains an extraordinarily popular, if divisive, figure. Regardless of whether he inserts himself into the political process, his very presence is polarizing. He was twice removed from office, in 1991 and 2004, and while his supporters blame his ousting on the U.S., his detractors accuse him of human-rights abuses.
"I cannot see a scenario where he will be helpful," says Peter Hakim, with the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington think tank. "He will undercut or compromise the formally elected president."
Several hundred of Mr. Aristide's supporters mobilized on Wednesday by setting fires in front of a government ministry. "We'll die for Aristide," they chanted. The government has said it will issue Mr. Aristide a diplomatic passport.
Mr. Aristide's former party, Famni Lavalas, was banned from running in the Nov. 28 elections on a technicality. Initial results placed the government-backed candidate, Jude Célestin, in second place against the front-runner,A Mirlande Manigat. But an Organization of American States report confirmed voting irregularities, and recommended that Michel Martelly, a popular musician, and not Mr. Célestin, proceed to the second round in March.
It is highly doubtful that Mr. Aristide's presence will lead to constructive engagement. If he really wants to help Haiti, he should stay put in South Africa.