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Haiti, America's Next Vietnam? This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   Haiti, America's Next Vietnam?

by D. N., Arlington, MA

Will Haiti ever be free? This third world country has been ruled by dictators for so long that there only exists the few very rich who have all the power, and the poor masses whose only hope for a better life is their freely elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

It seems, though, that this glimmer of hope was extinguished (when the army under the command of Lt. General Raoul Cedras) seized control of the government and forced the president to flee for his life.

The United Nations imposed an oil embargo on the country to force the army to return power to the people and their elected leaders. It seemed to have worked because all parties met at Governor's Island in New York and agreed to allow President Aristide to return on October 30, 1993, at which time General Cedras and Col. Joseph Francois (the police chief of Port au Prince) would resign.

Well, October 30th has come and gone and President Aristide is still in exile in the United States and General Cedras and the army are still in control. The prime minister, Robert Malval, is under virtual house arrest and armed thugs roam the streets, killing pro-Aristide supporters while soldiers and police look the other way.

Now Navy warships from the United States, Canada, England and France blockade the harbor, preventing fuel and military supplies from entering the country. The U.N. negotiator, Dante Coputo, is trying to get General Cedras to live up to the terms of the Governor's Island Accord. There is also talk of getting former President Jimmy Carter and former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney of Canada as negotiators.

When a treaty is signed, all parties should live up to its terms. How else can we ever have peace? Is war the only answer people know to world problems?

Now Haiti is isolated. Is the blockade working? I'm sure it is, but is it hurting the army or the poor more? I think much more could be done with embargoes to freeze the general's overseas investments, thereby forcing them back to the negotiating table. In the meantime, the poor are trapped, unable to flee the country and are in fear for their lives from attack by the bullies or goons who are supported by the police and military.

I hope it will not be necessary to send in U.N. armed forces against the Haitian Army. If this happens, many lives will be lost on both sides and innocent civilians, women and children will suffer. After years of dictatorship and unbelievable poverty, the people of Haiti have a right to be free and live in peace in a democratic society.

Finally, I think the United States is beginning to be the policeman for the world. We have too many problems (like poverty and the homeless) that need our money and manpower. I will be eighteen in five years. I don't want to spend my youth fighting someone else's battles, possibly to receive hatred instead of gratitude. I think all members of Congress should be forced to use the words "my son or daughter" or "my grandson or granddaughter" when the term "American troops" is used on a bill to send military forces overseas.


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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