The Center for International Policy got involved in Haiti in 1992 when exiled
president Jean-Bertrand Aristide solicited our help in returning him to Haiti
to restore constitutional government. The Center, led by Robert E. White,
former U.S. ambassador to El Salvador, and Michael Barnes, former congressman,
guided Aristide through the maze of negotiations at Governors Island in 1993
and thereafter leading to his restoration in October, 1994.
With that return the advisory relationship effectively ended and the Center
might well have withdrawn from Haiti work had not influential members of our
board of directors insisted that despite the policy success the situation
of the poor majority was as desperate as ever. And as the Center recontacted
the Haitian political leaders whom we had worked with to restore Aristide
it became clear that the progressive movement had split over personalities
and so had become incapable of helping the poor.
Our first effort to address this situation was a political consultation
with Haitian leaders at the Hotel Montana in 1997. It failed to attract Aristide
or his representatives. Since then the Center's main emphasis has been the
development of a web page to serve as a forum for a variety of democratic
viewpoints, in the tradition of Octavio Paz's Vuelta journal in the
1970s which sought the maturation of Mexican politics.
More recently the Center sent observers to the May 21, 2000 elections and
hosted the ousted election commissioner, Leon Manus, during his June 2000
tour of Washington.
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