Stronger Than the Gun

MONTHS AFTER THE COUP D'ETAT of September 30 in Haiti, we are still seeking the solution to our crisis. This is both a cruel joke and a tragedy.

It is a tragedy because more than 2,000 people have been killed, while about 20,000 more have gone into exile, fleeing the repression. Thousands of others are in hiding. There exists no freedom of the press nor other civic freedoms.

This is also a tragedy because the people of Haiti want democracy. They have already had seven months of democracy, and they do not want to go back to dictatorship. For the past six months, they have been fighting for the restoration of democracy, but have been unable to attain it.

Herein is the cruel joke. The resolution of the crisis--re-establishment of democracy--is obvious, in spite of the contradictions of the negotiations process. This is because the visible, operable power right now is based on weapons, and those weapons are in the hands of Gen. Raoul Cedras, the ringleader of the coup, and his gang of thugs. Behind the de facto government (which the military placed in power after overthrowing my administration) is this real power: the gun. Through their military equipment, Cedras and his gang of soldiers are imposing their will.

Those who are not very familiar with Haiti may think that the de facto, illegitimate government represents the current dominant power. This misperception has been fostered by those who want to support Cedras and his gang, and who have hidden behind the de facto government to do so. The Haitian Parliament is also being used as a smoke screen for what is really going on, as is a delegation from Parliament that has participated in the Organization of American States-sponsored negotiations. Some members of the international community, of course, understand quite well who the invisible actors are.

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Sojourners Magazine July 1992
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