Haiti: Efforts to Restore President Aristide, 1991-1994

CRS Report for Congress
Haiti: Efforts to Restore President Aristide,
May 11, 1995
Maureen Taft-Morales
Analyst in Latin America Affairs
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division

Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress

Haiti: Efforts to Restore President Aristide, 1991-1994
The overthrow of Haiti’s first democratically elected president in September
1991 propelled Haiti into its worst crisis since protests brought down the 29-year
dictatorship of the Duvalier family in 1986. The leaders of the coup faced stronger
international sanctions than did previous coup leaders in Haiti, largely because a
democratic government was overthrown.
For more than three years, the regime resisted international demands that
President Jean-Bertrand Aristide be restored to office. U.S. policy consisted of
pressuring the de facto Haitian government to restore constitutional democracy to
Haiti. Measures included: cutting off assistance to the Haitian government; imposing
trade embargoes, as called for by the Organization of American States (OAS) and the
United Nations (U.N.); supporting OAS and U.N. diplomatic efforts; and imposing
sanctions targeted at the leadership blocking Aristide’s return.
On September 18, 1994, when it learned that a U.S. military intervention had
been launched, the military regime signed an agreement with the United States
providing for Aristide’s return. It also called for the immediate, unopposed entry of
U.S. troops, a legislative amnesty for the military, and the resignation of the military
Under the protection of some 20,000 U.S. troops, President Aristide returned to
Haiti on October 15, 1994, calling for reconciliation and an end to violence. On
March 31, 1995, having declared that a “secure and stable environment” had been
established, the United States transferred responsibility for the mission to the U.N.
During this period, the main U.S. foreign policy concern was the restoration of
the democratic process to Haiti. Closely related to this was the issue of Haitians
attempting to flee to the United States by boat. Congressional concerns focused on
human rights, Haitian migration, socioeconomic conditions, and drug trafficking.

Election and Overthrow of Aristide....................................1
Efforts to Restore Aristide...........................................3
U.S. Policy after the Coup.......................................4
International Efforts to Restore Aristide............................5
Multinational Military Intervention...............................11
Congressional Concerns During Aristide’s Exile........................12
Human Rights...............................................12
Haitian Migration.............................................14
Clinton Administration Migration Policy......................15
Socioeconomic Conditions.....................................16
Drug Trafficking.............................................17

Haiti: Efforts to Restore President Aristide,
Election and Overthrow of Aristide
Jean-Bertrand Aristide was elected to a five-year term as President of Haiti on
December 16, 1990, in what is widely regarded as Haiti’s first free and fair elections.
He was inaugurated on February 7, 1991, raising hopes that Haiti would leave behind
its authoritarian past. Eight months later, on September 30, 1991, Aristide was
overthrown in a violent military coup. His ouster ushered in the seventh government
since the downfall of the Duvalier dictatorship in 1986.
Aristide was elected president with approximately 67.5% of the vote, and was
inaugurated on the fifth anniversary of the collapse of the 29-year Duvalier dictator-
ships. To his supporters, Aristide was a martyr, willing to risk his life to defend the
poor. An advocate of “liberation theology,” Aristide spoke out against Duvalier and
the military rulers who followed him. In September 1988, an armed group attacked
and burned Aristide’s church, killing 13 and wounding 70; surrounded by his
parishioners, Aristide escaped unharmed. To his detractors, Aristide was a
potentially dangerous demagogue, whose inflammatory oratory they maintained
encouraged the rampages, known as “dechoukajes,” or uprooting in Creole, in which
suspected Tontons Macoutes were attacked or killed by angry mobs. Aristide
reportedly denies that his book, 100 Verses of Dechoukaj, condones violence.
Nonetheless, the Salesian religious order expelled him for preaching politics from the
pulpit, including what the order called “class struggle.”
When Aristide became a candidate, he toned down his revolutionary and anti-
U.S. rhetoric. A 37-year-old populist Roman Catholic priest, he was the most
controversial of 11 candidates ruled eligible to run by the independent Provisional
Electoral Council. Aristide previously opposed democratic elections in Haiti,
arguing that free and fair elections were impossible as long as Duvalierists still had
a hold on economic and political power. Nonetheless, he joined the race in response
to former Tontons Macoutes chief Roger Lafontant’s potential candidacy.
Some observers believed that, when first in office, Aristide helped to polarize
the situation in Haiti, by refusing to condemn violent acts of retribution, and holding
out the threat of mob violence against those who disagreed with him. For example,
Aristide at that time refused to condemn the practice of “Pere Lebrun”, or burning
someone to death with a tire necklace. He reportedly said that the practice was not
barred by the constitution, and that, although he would eventually like to see the
practice discontinued, its elimination was conditional on the eradication of
corruption. After the former head of the Tontons Macoutes was put on trial and
sentenced to life in prison, Aristide gave a speech in which he noted that without

popular pressure and threat of “pere lebrun” in front of the courthouse, the life
sentence — which is unconstitutional — would not have been given.12 In exile,
Aristide condemned the practice of necklacing.34
The coup began just four days after Aristide addressed the United Nations, an
event he said marked the end of Haiti’s dark past of dictatorship. When he returned
to Haiti, Aristide gave a speech that observers viewed as threatening the bourgeoisie
for not having helped his government enough. Some saw it as another factor leading
to his overthrow days later, and say that members of that elite financially supported
the coup leaders. There were at least 300 coup-related deaths, according to the State
Department, but over 1500 according to Amnesty International.
President Aristide was faced with some of the most serious and persistent social,
economic, and political problems in the hemisphere. After eight months in office,
Aristide had received mixed reviews. He was credited with curbing crime in the
capital, reducing the number of employees in bloated state enterprises, and taking
actions to bring the military under civilian control. Some observers questioned the
government’s commitment to democracy, however. Neither Aristide nor his prime
minister belonged to a political party, and leaders of other political parties criticized
him for not reaching out and establishing a spirit of cooperation among the
democratic elements. Many legislators, including some from Aristide’s own
coalition, protested the president’s appointment of Supreme Court judges and
ambassadors without consulting the Senate as required by the constitution. Aristide
later agreed to consult the legislature, but relations between the two branches
remained strained.
President Aristide was also criticized for his attitude toward the judicial system.
Former Tontons Macoutes chief Roger Lafontant was tried in July for his role in the
failed January 1991 coup attempt. Aristide called for a life sentence — which
Lafontant received — though the constitution limited sentences to 15 years. Aristide
declared the next day a national holiday. Many observers expressed concern over the
trial, saying it differed little from trials under the Duvaliers — it lasted for over 20
consecutive hours, important witnesses were not called, and the court appointed five
lawyer trainees to defend Lafontant because even his own lawyer felt it too dangerous
to defend him.
Initially criticized for not having a clear economic development plan, by July the
Aristide government presented a macroeconomic reform and public sector investment

1 Foreign Broadcast Information Service. Daily Report, Latin America, Aug. 8, 1991. p.

4-5. “President Aristide Addresses Youth Rally,” August 5, 1991.

2 Foreign Broadcast Information Service. Daily Report, Latin America, Aug. 8, 1991. p.

4-5. “President Aristide Addresses Youth Rally,” August 5, 1991.

3 Alexander Watson, Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs at a briefing for
the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere Affairs. Oct.

20, 1993.

4 Foreign Broadcast Information Service. Daily Report, Latin America, Aug. 8, 1991. p.

4-5. “President Aristide Addresses Youth Rally,” August 5, 1991.

plan to representatives of several nations and international lending institutions, who
lauded the plan and pledged $440 million in FY1992 aid. Most of that aid was
suspended because of the coup that overthrew Aristide’s government. (For more
information, see CRS Report 93-931, Haiti: Background to the Overthrow of
President Aristide; CRS Report 94-852, Haiti: Chronology of Its Troubled Path
Toward Democracy.)
Efforts to Restore Aristide
The overthrow of Haiti’s first democratically elected president in September
1991 propelled Haiti into its worst crisis since protests brought down the 29-year
dictatorship of the Duvalier family in 1986. The leaders of the coup faced stronger
international sanctions than did previous coup leaders in Haiti, largely because a
democratic government was overthrown. The United States, France and Canada,
Haiti’s largest foreign aid donors, suspended all aid to the Haitian government, as did
Venezuela and the European Community (EC). Most international aid to Haiti had
been only recently renewed, having been cut off when the 1987 elections were
thwarted. Within two days of the coup, the Organization of American States (OAS)
had demanded Aristide’s immediate reinstatement; after meeting resistance from
several powerful Haitian sectors, the OAS then imposed a trade embargo in early
October 1991.
For more than three years, the regime resisted international demands that
Aristide be restored to office. A week after sending President Aristide into exile, the
military, led by General Cedras, pressured the legislature into appointing a figurehead
president and prime minister. The regime blocked a February 1992 OAS-sponsored
agreement between Haitian legislators and Aristide that called for his eventual return,
and then proposed an alternative agreement that made no mention of Aristide. In
June 1992, the government installed Marc Bazin, a conservative economist and
Aristide rival, as prime minister, whereby the interim president stepped down,
leaving the presidency vacant and Bazin to form a government.
The OAS became frustrated because neither the embargo nor diplomatic
initiatives brought about a return to constitutional rule. The European Community
could not agree on an embargo, and continued to ship goods to Haiti. Sporadic oil
shipments, some at first linked to OAS members, then from Europe, kept the country
fueled. The embargo, however, did have a significant effect on Haiti’s already
impoverished population. According to one humanitarian assistance organization
operating in Haiti, the situation after the coup deteriorated from extreme poverty to
a state of virtual famine in some parts of the country.
The OAS’s frustration lead to the involvement of the United Nations. Special
Envoy Dante Caputo, representing both the U.N. and the OAS, began discussions in
December 1991. These lead to the posting of an OAS/U.N. civilian observer mission
to oversee the restoration of order and monitor human rights conditions.
As the de facto Haitian government resisted the call for Aristide’s return, the
international community responded with increased sanctions. On November 24,

1992, the U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution urging member states to
impose a trade embargo on Haiti as called for by the OAS in October 1991. On June

4, 1993, President Clinton imposed new sanctions, targeted at the Haitian leadership,

and on June 23, the U.N. imposed a world-wide oil and arms embargo. These new
sanctions, coupled with the resignation of Prime Minister Bazin on June 8, created
the conditions for a new round of talks. In late June, Caputo held talks with both
President Aristide and military chief General Cedras on Governors Island in New
York. Although the two men did not meet face to face, they signed an agreement
which called for Cedras’ resignation and Aristide’s return by October 30, 1993. (See
Box, below, for details of agreement.)
Soon after sanctions were suspended, a small minority opposed to Aristide’s
return escalated their efforts to undermine the accord with politically motivated
violence, including the murders of a prominent Aristide supporter and his justice
minister. Caputo and others blamed police chief Michel Francois for much of the
renewed violations of human rights. In October 1993,the U.N., OAS, and United
States reimposed sanctions.
Many advocates of Aristide’s return acknowledged concerns over Aristide’s
commitment to the democratic process, but argued that the international community
had an obligation to restore a democratically elected head of state, as a matter of
principle. If Aristide was found to be violating the constitution, they said, then the
community should encourage Haiti to address the problem through the democratic
process — including impeachment if necessary — rather than through a coup.
U.S. Policy After the Coup
Following the September 1991 coup in Haiti, the main U.S. foreign policy
concern was the restoration of democracy. Closely related to this was the issue of
Haitians attempting to flee to the United States by boat. Important questions for U.S.
policymakers were whether the OAS and U.N. would be able to promote an enduring
solution in Haiti, and whether these measures would be able to forestall Haitians
attempting to flee to the United States. As the expanded embargo and diplomatic
efforts did not force the de facto Haitian regime to allow Aristide’s return to office,
U.S. policymakers had to consider whether to continue the embargo, which many
claimed was hurting Haiti’s poor the most, take stronger action, such as military
intervention, or disengage from Haiti. When Aristide’s return was arranged,
policymakers faced issues such as Aristide’s personal security, the possibility of a
violent popular backlash, and whether Aristide could govern effectively and
Under the Bush Administration, U.S. policy aimed at pressuring the regime
through a trade embargo with the participation of other OAS members, the cutoff of
U.S. aid to the regime, and support for diplomatic efforts through the OAS. Many
observers believed that President Clinton intensified pressure on the Haitian regime
and helped advance negotiations to restore democracy to Haiti. But after the
Governors Island accord collapsed, pressure increased for a change in policy. The
Administration then took a tougher stance toward the military regime, imposing ever-
stiffer sanctions, and ultimately ordering a military intervention to remove them.

(For further background on U.S. policy considerations before President Aristide’s
return, see CRS Report 94-567, Haiti’s Political Crisis: U.S. Policy Options.)
International Efforts to Restore Aristide
Immediately after Aristide’s ouster in 1991, the George H. W. Bush
Administration cut off aid to the government of Haiti. Humanitarian assistance,
however, continued through private and voluntary organizations (PVOs). The United
States followed through with the embargo and banned almost all trade with Haiti.
At first, the only embargo exceptions were for humanitarian aid, such as medicine
and food, but in February 1992 the Bush Administration lifted the embargo for some
assembly plants. In May 1992, in response to the regime’s refusal to cooperate with
the OAS-brokered agreement, the OAS voted to tighten its trade embargo against
Haiti by barring from all ports in the hemisphere ships from OAS member countries
that violated the embargo by running oil and other commercial goods to Haiti. The
Bush Administration soon took action to comply with the tightening of the sanctions,
and prohibited ships that stopped in Haiti from entering the United States without
prior authorization.
In August 1992, the OAS initiated new diplomatic efforts to try to resolve the
political crisis. A delegation led by OAS Secretary General Joao Baena Soares
visited Haiti to “promote a dialogue leading to the resumption of the Haitian
democratic process.” This led to talks between representatives of Aristide and the
de facto regime, which resulted in a September 1992 agreement for an 18-member
(subsequently reduced to 16 member) OAS civilian mission to be sent to Haiti. The
civilian mission was supposed to have responsibility for monitoring the human rights
situation, the effects of the embargo, the delivery of humanitarian aid, and for
evaluating prospects for negotiations for a political settlement of the crisis.
After President Clinton took office, he reiterated U.S. support for Aristide’s
return as president, while also acknowledging that when in power, Aristide made
statements that “caused people in the military and others to have fear for their
personal security, in ways that are inconsistent with running a democracy.” In early
February 1993, Secretary of State Christopher sent a warning to the Haitian military
and de facto regime by stating that “those who hold illegal power there should know
that they are swimming against the tide of history and they will not prevail.”5 6
In December 1992, the U.N. had became involved in diplomatic efforts when
the OAS passed a resolution authorizing the OAS Secretary General to explore with
the U.N. Secretary General ways to resolve peacefully Haiti’s political situation. As
a result, U.N. Special Envoy Dante Caputo held meetings in Haiti beginning in mid-
December. After some vacillation, the de facto Haitian regime agreed on February

9, 1993 to accept an OAS/U.N. observer mission. The observers were to establish

5 Preston, Julia. “Haiti Agrees to Monitoring by U.N., OAS.” Washington Post, Feb. 10,

1993. p. A28.

6 Alexander Watson, Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs at a briefing for
the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere Affairs. Oct.

20, 1993.

monitoring posts throughout the country to observe the human rights situation, and
work at facilitating negotiations to bring about the eventual return of Aristide. The
agreement was hailed by Secretary of State Warren Christopher as a breakthrough for
U.N. mediation efforts; the Clinton Administration pledged $2 million to support the
mission. It was hoped that the mission’s success might lead to a decrease in
repression and progress in negotiations and then to the gradual lifting of the embargo
against Haiti.
Negotiations faltered in the spring. Some analysts said military leaders were
emboldened to reject two proposals because they believed that international threats
lacked credibility, and were reluctant to give up the income many in the military were
reportedly making from trafficking in drugs and contraband.
In March 1993, President Clinton met with President Aristide, and committed
the United States to contributing its “fair portion” of a five-year, $1 billion program
to rebuild Haiti’s economy. President Clinton also named Lawrence Pezzullo special
adviser to Haiti.
The Clinton Administration was criticized for not moving swiftly or strongly
enough to ensure Aristide’s return to office. Some Members, especially some
members of the Congressional Black Caucus, expressed dismay that the
Administration did not respond with stronger measures when the Haitian military
rejected the plan that included amnesty in April 1993. The Administration contended
that there was still room for negotiations, and that they were using a slower “carrot-
and-stick” approach, combining pressure with offers of future aid.
On June 4, 1993, however, the Clinton Administration imposed further
sanctions targeted at Haitian leaders. Members of the military, the civilian
government, and the private sector who supported the coup were prohibited entry into
the United States, and, along with the Central Bank and other institutions, had their
U.S. assets frozen. The Administration continually expanded the list of those subject
to targeted sanctions for “obstructing the restoration of democracy in Haiti” or
contributing to its general climate of violence. It also encouraged other countries to
impose similar sanctions.
On June 6, 1993, the OAS called for reenforcement of its embargo by the U.N.
and proposed suspending commercial flights to Haiti. On June 16, the U.N. Security
Council voted unanimously to impose a global oil and arms embargo on Haiti, and
to freeze Haitian government assets around the world. The U.N. sanctions took
effect June 23. These sanctions seemed to have their desired effect: General Cedras
agreed to go to New York to discuss a settlement to the crisis. Caputo mediated the
agreement between Cedras and Aristide, who did not meet face to face while at
Governors Island.

The Governors Island Agreement
These are the steps for restoration of democracy in Haiti agreed to by armed
forces chief General Raoul Cedras and President Jean-Bertrand Aristide on July 3,


1. Representatives of all the political parties of parliament and members of
Aristide’s negotiating commission, establish a “political truce” and agree on a
legitimate parliament.

2. Aristide nominates a prime minister.

3. The reconstituted parliament confirms the prime minister, who then assumes
4. Once a prime minister takes office, economic sanctions against Haiti are
“suspended” by the United Nations and the Organization of American States.
5. The international community launches a program of technical assistance to
promote development, administrative and judicial reform, the modernization of the
Haitian army and the creation of a new police force with the help of U.N. personnel.
6. Aristide grants an amnesty for political crimes in relation to the September

1991 coup, as allowed by Article 147 of the Haitian constitution.

7. Parliament adopts a law establishing a new police force. Aristide appoints a
new police commander.
8. Cedras accepts early retirement as army chief. Aristide appoints a new
military commander-in-chief, who, in turn, shall appoint members of the high
command, as per the constitution.

9. Aristide returns as president of Haiti on October 30, 1993.

10. The United Nations and Organization of American States take responsibility
for verifying compliance with the accord.
Source: Miami Herald. July 4, 1993. p. 18A.
The agreement they signed on July 3, 1993, outlined a 10-step process leading
to Aristide’s return to Haiti as president on October 30, 1993. Cedras was to step
down as head of the army, accepting “early retirement,” and Aristide was to appoint
a new commander-in-chief, who would then appoint members of the high command.
Aristide agreed to grant a political amnesty to Cedras and the coup leaders; it would
not shield them from individual criminal prosecution, however. Once the
reconstituted parliament confirmed Robert Malval as Aristide’s prime minister in late
August, the OAS, U.N., and United States suspended their sanctions. The
international community was to begin its promised five-year, $1 billion dollar
development program, whose economic and technical assistance included job-
creating programs, administrative and judicial reform support, modernization of the
Haitian army, and a security team to direct the development of a new civilian-
controlled police force.
The U.S. sanctions were suspended in August 1993 after the first steps of the
Governors Island accord were taken.Once sanctions were lifted, however,
violence increased, and the military began to show signs of intransigence. In
September 1993, paramilitary forces known as attaches threatened Malval, several
members of his new cabinet, and OAS/U.N. envoy Caputo; attacked an elected
official trying to resume office, and assassinated a prominent Aristide supporter,
Antoine Izmery. On October 11, an angry mob of Haitians refused to allow a U.S.

ship to dock and threatened the top U.S. official in Haiti as Haitian soldiers stood by.
The ship, which the military had promised to allow to dock, carried 200 U.S. soldiers
and 25 Canadian military trainers who were to be part of a 1300-member U.N.
military and police observing and training team agreed to under the Governors Island
Many analysts believe that the decision to pull that ship, the U.S.S. Harlan
County, out of Haiti destroyed U.S. credibility and emboldened the Haitian regime
to dig in its heels. On October 14, 1993, President Aristide’s new Minister of Justice,
Guy Malary, was assassinated by gunmen in what many viewed as defiance of
President Clinton’s warning less than two hours earlier that the United States would
hold the Haitian military responsible for the safety of the new civilian government
appointed by Aristide. Malary was writing the legislation to put the police under
civilian, not military control when he was killed. The OAS and U.N. withdrew their
250-member international civilian mission, stating that the observers did not have a
minimal guarantee of their personal security. The OAS and the United States
reimposed their trade embargoes, and the U.N. its oil and arms embargo, which took
effect October 18, saying the sanctions would not be canceled until Aristide was
restored to office. International ships, including six U.S. warships, began patrolling
Haitian waters to enforce the U.N.’s embargo.
President Clinton reported to Congress on October 20, 1993, the deployment of
the U.S. Navy ships. According to the letter, which the President indicated was
“consistent with the War Powers Resolution,” the U.S. forces would “remain
prepared to protect U.S. citizens in Haiti, and act in cooperation with the U.S. Coast
Guard” to support the interdiction of Haitian migrants as may be necessary. The
President further stated that “the United States strongly supports the Governors Island
Agreement and restoration of democracy in Haiti” and that the measures to deploy
U.S. forces “are consistent with United States goals and interests and constitute
crucial support for the world community’s strategy to overcome the persistent refusal
of Haitian military and police authorities to fulfill their commitments under the
Governors Island Agreement.”
Meanwhile, Congress was debating the merits of a possible U.S. military
intervention in Haiti. Some Members wished to prohibit such U.S. involvement
without specific approval from Congress. Others, while not necessarily in favor of
U.S. military intervention, did not want to limit the President’s decision-making
ability. On October 21, 1993, the U.S. Senate defeated (by a vote of 81-19) an
amendment introduced by Senator Helms to the Department of Defense
appropriations bill, H.R. 3116, that would have barred the U.S. deployment of troops
to Haiti without prior congressional authorization unless U.S. citizens were
endangered or had to be evacuated. Instead, the Senate approved (by a vote of 98-2),
an amendment offered by Senator Mitchell (based on a compromise with Senator
Dole), that urged President Clinton to seek congressional authorization before
committing U.S. troops.
The United States, France, Canada and Venezuela gave Haiti until January 15,
1994 to meet the conditions of the Governors Island accord, after which they said
they would recommend that the U.N. Security Council consider increased sanctions,
including imposing a global total trade embargo. The deadline passed without the

military meeting any of the conditions. But rather than impose new sanctions, the
“four friends” of Haiti instead called for Aristide to first appoint a new prime
minister. Aristide rejected the plan, reportedly saying the international community
was acting in “complicity” with the military regime in delaying his return. The
agreement set no date for the military to relinquish power to Aristide, and dropped
the provision included in the earlier Governors Island accord that called for an
international mission to oversee the professionalization of the Haitian armed forces.
Following harsh criticism of that strategy, in May 1994, the White House shifted
to a policy of increasing pressure on the Haitian military without asking Aristide to
make further compromises first. The White House also shifted its immigration
policy. Special Envoy Pezzullo resigned and was replaced by William Gray, a
former Congressman who had once headed the Congressional Black Caucus. The
White House orchestrated increased sanctions: on May 6, 1994, the U.N. Security
Council voted unanimously to impose an almost total trade embargo on Haiti. The
only exceptions were for food, medicine, and cooking fuel. The resolution gave
Cedras, his deputy Gen. Philippe Biamby, and Port-au-Prince police chief Lt. Col.
Michel Francois 15 days, until May 21, to step down, before the embargo went into
Other U.N. sanctions barred all military officers, key civilian supporters, and
their families — about 600 people — from traveling outside Haiti, and prohibited
private plane flights in and out of Haiti. The resolution “urged” a worldwide freeze
on the assets of military leaders and their allies, stopping short of making it
mandatory because the laws of some nations, including Britain, precluded it. The
new sanctions were not to be lifted until the military leaders had left, the army and
police commands had been reformed, the legislature had adopted a political amnesty,
and Aristide had returned to office.
Falling under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter, the resolution allowed for
enforcement by military action. The Dominican Republic’s president, Joaquin
Balaguer, had reportedly stationed 10,000 soldiers along the border with Haiti to help
stave the massive smuggling which had made the oil embargo ineffective. Some
observers were concerned that Balaguer was cooperating on enforcing the embargo
in hopes of reducing U.S. calls for investigations of fraud charges in May 1994
elections which Balaguer claimed to have won by a small margin. Both governments
denied any such accommodation had been made.
President Clinton expanded U.S. sanctions twice on June 12, 1994, he barred
most private financial transactions and, effective June 25, commercial air travel
between the two countries; on June 21, he froze the U.S. assets of all Haitians still
residing in Haiti. The Administration also strengthened its rhetoric, saying it could
not rule out the use of force to oust the Haitian military regime.
The Haitian regime ordered the expulsion of the OAS/U.N. human rights
monitoring mission from Haiti on July 11, 1994. The monitors began leaving soon
after that date.
On July 31, 1994, the Administration helped push through a U.N. resolution
authorizing member nations “to form a multinational force...and to use all necessary

means to facilitate the departure from Haiti of the military leadership, ...and the
prompt return of the elected President...,” with participating countries bearing the
cost of the operation. About 20 countries initially agreed to join such a force,
including Argentina, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bolivia, Britain, nine Caribbean states,
the Netherlands, and Panama. Jamaica, Barbados, Belize, and Trinidad and Tobago
agreed to contribute support personnel to the intervention force. France and Canada,
who worked with the United States in pressuring the Haitian regime, declined to
participate in an invasion force.
Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott and Deputy Defense Secretary John
Deutch stated on August 31 that U.S. troops were definitely going to Haiti, either to
provide security for a returned Aristide government, or, if the military refused to step
down, to help remove them. U.S. officials gave no deadline for the Haitian military
to step down at that time.
In the face of strong bipartisan sentiment against an invasion, President Clinton
addressed the nation on September 15, 1994, to encourage greater support for the
planned invasion. He told the Haitian dictators: “Leave now, or we will force you
from power.” He defined U.S. interests in restoring the democratically elected
government in Haiti as: “... to stop the brutal atrocities that threaten tens of
thousands of Haitians, to secure our borders, and to preserve stability and promote
democracy in our hemisphere, and to uphold the reliability of the commitments we
make and the commitments others make to us.”
The next day, the President announced that a delegation headed by former
President Jimmy Carter was going to Haiti in a last-ditch effort to avoid military
intervention. Accompanying Carter were Senator Sam Nunn and General Colin
Powell. Haiti’s military leadership finally agreed to step down voluntarily late on
September 18, when they heard that the President had already given the order for an
invasion to begin and U.S. planes were on their way to Haiti. The new agreement
called for Cedras’ resignation by October, and the immediate deployment of the U.S.
military mission to ensure a transition to a restoration of the democratically elected
Aristide government. (See box below for details of agreement.)

September 18, 1994
An Agreement Reached in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti
1. The purpose of this agreement is to foster peace in Haiti, to avoid violence and
bloodshed, to promote freedom and democracy, and to forge a sustained and mutually
beneficial relationship between the Governments, people, and institutions of Haiti and
the United States.
2. To implement this agreement, the Haitian military and police forces will work in
close cooperation with the U.S. military Mission. This cooperation, conducted with
mutual respect, will last during the transitional period required for insuring
institutions of the country.
3. In order to personally contribute to the success of this agreement, certain military
officers of the Haitian Armed Forces are willing to consent to an early and honorable
retirement in accordance with U.N. Resolutions 917 and 940 when a general amnesty
will by voted into law by the Haitian Parliament, or October 15, 1994, whichever is
earlier. The parties to this agreement pledge to work with the Haitian Parliament to
expedite this action, their successors will be named according to the Haitian
Constitution and existing military law.
4. The military activities of the U.S. Military Mission will be coordinated with the
Haitian military high command.
5. The economic embargo and the economic sanctions will be lifted without delay in
accordance with relevant U.N. Resolutions and the need of the Haitian people will
be met as quickly as possible.

6. The forthcoming legislative elections will be held in a free and democratic manner.

7. It is understood that the above agreement is conditioned on the approval of the
civilian governments of the United States and Haiti.
In a speech to the U.N. on September 26, 1994, President Clinton announced he
was lifting unilateral U.S. sanctions against Haiti, except those applying to Haitian
leaders. This restored commercial air flights and financial transactions between the
two nations. There were reports that the President had approved $5 million for
covert CIA operations to protect U.S. troops from hostile Haitian military activity and
to disseminate pro-Aristide propaganda. The U.N. voted to lift sanctions against
Haiti the day after President Aristide returned to Haiti. (For more information, see
CRS Report 94-681, Haiti: U.N. Security Council Resolutions, Texts and Votes —


Multinational Military Intervention
U.S. forces landed in Haiti on September 19, 1994 to oversee a transition to the
return of the democratically elected Aristide. They operated under a last-minute
agreement with the Haitian de facto regime that barely averted an invasion, and U.N.
Security Council Resolution 940 authorizing a multinational force. By September

30, almost 20,000 U.S. troops were in Haiti as part of “Operation Uphold

Democracy.” Some 29 other nations eventually contributed about 4,105 military,
police, and technical personnel. Once U.S. troops established a “safe and secure
environment,” responsibility for the mission was to be turned over to the U.N.
Both the House and the Senate approved a measure (P.L. 103-423, signed
October 25, 1994) stating that the president should have sought congressional
authorization before sending U.S. forces to Haiti. The measure avoided approving
or disapproving the deployment, but said the troops should be withdrawn as soon as
After U.S. forces were criticized for standing by as Haitian police beat pro-
American demonstrators, and for saying U.S. forces had no role in halting Haitian-
on-Haitian violence, U.S. military leaders changed their policy and announced that
troops were authorized to stop such violence. The mission then shifted from one of
working with the Haitian army to one of bringing the army under control. Its most
powerful unit was disarmed and disbanded; the heavy weapons unit had been
involved in the coup that overthrew Aristide in September 1991. In their first months
in Haiti, U.S. troops also disarmed the headquarters of the violent paramilitary group,
the Front for Advancement and Progress in Haiti, or FRAPH, and conducted a
weapons “buy-back” program.
Under U.S. security, the Haitian parliament met for the first time in 18 months.
On October 7, it passed a political amnesty for the Haitian army. Aristide reportedly
said that army officers would still face charges for crimes against humanity. The
military regime that had ruled Haiti since Aristide’s ouster left the country: military
chief Cedras and his chief of staff, Philippe Biamby, were taken to Panama by a U.S.-
provided airliner on October 13; police chief Michel Francois fled to the Dominican
Republic October 4. The United States agreed to release the Haitian military leaders’
frozen assets, reportedly allowing all three access to millions of dollars accrued
during their oppressive tenure.
After three years in exile, President Aristide returned to office in Haiti on
October 15, 1994, calling for reconciliation and an end to violence. Several months
later the United States declared that a “secure and stable environment” had been
established. President Clinton flew to Haiti to oversee the transfer of responsibility
from the U.S.-led multinational force to the U.N. Mission in Haiti on March 31,


Congressional Concerns During Aristide’s Exile
Human Rights
During Aristide’s absence, the human rights situation in Haiti deteriorated
significantly, according to reports by human rights groups and by the U.S.
Department of State, with Aristide supporters, members of grassroots organizations,
and journalists frequently targeted. In August 1992, Amnesty International reported
that “the security forces and the thousands of civilians acting in collusion with them
carry out a wide range of abuses with total impunity. The old repressive structures,

which the deposed [Aristide] government had partly succeeded in dismantling, are
back in place.” Of particular concern was the paramilitary group, the Front for
Advancement and Progress in Haiti, or FRAPH. U.N./OAS human rights observers
in Haiti blamed FRAPH for much of the violence directed against Aristide
supporters. FRAPH, which called itself a political party, reportedly had offices in
New York and Miami. In May 1994, a revival of the Tontons Macoutes, the
Duvaliers’ secret police-type organization, was announced.
In 1994, human rights abuses by the military and its supporters increased and
became particularly gruesome, with a wave of mutilations of victims of extrajudicial
executions and politically motivated rapes. In July 1994, the military regime ousted
the UN/OAS’s joint human rights monitoring mission, which had reported
widespread violations of human rights abuses since 1993. The ranking UN human
rights official in Haiti reportedly said, “We feel there is a deliberate policy [on the
part of the army and its allies] to eliminate Aristide partisans, to break the back of the
pro-democracy movement and to terrorize the population.”78 In a September 13
report, the State Department said, “The military and the de facto government promote
repression and terror, sanctioning widespread assassination, killing, torture, beating,
mutilation and rape.”910
For decades, the Haitian army had been responsible for widespread human rights
violations. Under the military-dominated interim governments after the fall of the
Duvalier dictatorship in 1986, the army frequently impeded the democratic process.
Since the departure of the last military dictator in March 1990, however, some
observers believed there had been a transformation of the army to one supportive of
democracy. Throughout the 1990 electoral process, the 7,000-man army proved itself
capable of establishing and maintaining order. Initially, the army accepted Aristide’s
assertion of authority, including his purge of the Haitian army high command. Brig.
General Raoul Cedras, who oversaw security for the December elections and was
named commander-in-chief by Aristide, was reportedly a reluctant participant in the
initial coup. But as its spokesman, he said Aristide was ousted for “meddling in
army affairs,” and he led the military regime during its three-year rule.
When it first took office, the Aristide government was expected to meet
resistance from the army in its attempts to implement provisions of the Haitian
constitution that impose civilian authority over the military. For example, the
constitution calls for the separation of the police from the army, with the police under
the command of the Ministry of Justice, not the army. The law also mandates that
cases involving military abuses against civilians be tried in civilian courts, not by the
military. The military had resisted previous efforts to execute those laws. No

7 Marquis, Christopher. “Aristide Move Undermines Legal Basis for Repatriation.” Miami
Herald, Apr. 7, 1994. p. 16A.
8 Foreign Broadcast Information Service. Daily Report, Latin America, Aug. 8, 1991. p.

4-5. “President Aristide Addresses Youth Rally,” August 5, 1991.

9 U.S. Department of State. “Human rights in Haiti.” Sept. 13, 1994, p. 1.
10 Preston, Julia. “Haiti Agrees to Monitoring by U.N., OAS.” Washington Post, Feb. 10,

1993. p. A28.

military personnel were prosecuted for human rights abuses under any of the interim
governments. Aristide was trying to attack corruption, carry out reforms in the army,
and create a civilian police force when he was overthrown. These changes were to
be attempted again under the Governors Island agreement. Many believe that it was
resistance to reform, as well as suppression of resistance, that led to the upsurge in
violence following the signing of the Governors Island accord, and contributed to the
army’s opposition to Aristide’s return.
Haitian Migration
The U.S. policy of interdicting Haitian migrants on the sea was severely
criticized after the September 1991 coup. The interdiction policy was based on a
bilateral agreement negotiated between the Reagan Administration and the Duvalier
government in September 1981 that permitted the U.S. Coast Guard to interdict boats
on the high seas and to return undocumented passengers to Haiti. Haiti was the only
country with which the United States had such an agreement. From September 1981
through October 1990, the Coast Guard interdicted 22,651 Haitians at sea. During
those nine years, fewer than a dozen Haitians were allowed into the United States to
apply for asylum. The year 1990 saw the lowest level of interdictions in seven years,
and the Coast Guard reported that, during some months of Aristide’s 1991 term, they
did not encounter a single Haitian refugee boat. Both Haitian and U.S. officials
reportedly attributed this to the new hope Haitians had for improved conditions under
the newly elected government. After Aristide’s ouster on September 30, 1991, the
exodus rose sharply.
During Aristide’s exile, 66,954 Haitians were interdicted by the U.S. Coast
Guard. For the first six months after the coup, the U.S. Coast Guard took the
Haitians to the U.S. naval facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where the U.S.
Immigration and Naturalization Service conducted pre-screening interviews. More
than 10,000 of those pre-screened, or about 30%, were allowed to go to the United
States to seek asylum. On May 24, 1992, however, President Bush ordered the
interception and immediate return to Haiti of all Haitians in boats on the high seas
without pre-screening them to see if they might be eligible for asylum. Instead,
Haitians could apply for refugee status at the U.S. Embassy. President Clinton, who
during the campaign said Haitians would not be turned back without a hearing,
continued the forced repatriation policy, which the Supreme Court upheld in June


Debate over the interdiction policy centered on several issues. The most
important question was the cause of the Haitians’ flight. The George H. W. Bush
Administration had argued that the majority were fleeing poverty, and were therefore
ineligible for political asylum. Refugee advocates argued that many were likely to
face political persecution at home from the military-dominated government and that
conducting inadequate or no interviews resulted in returning many who might have
had legitimate claims to refugee status. According to human rights organizations, the
human rights situation deteriorated significantly following the coup.
Another important question was whether those returned to Haiti were facing
persecution. According to the Department of State’s 1992 human rights report, U.S.
officials monitored more than 3,000 repatriates in 1992 “without finding a single

credible claim of mistreatment or retribution against any Haitian for having attempted
to leave Haiti.” The report also noted that “repatriated Haitian boat people do face,
of course, the same harsh conditions and lawlessness facing Haitians in general.”
Human rights groups maintained that it was extremely dangerous and difficult to
investigate claims of persecution, and contended that INS efforts to interview
repatriates were deeply flawed. They also argued that it was unsafe to apply for
asylum in Haiti. In March 1993, a navy deserter granted refugee status by the U.S.
embassy was arrested by the Haitian military as he was escorted by U.S. diplomats
to a U.S.-bound plane. After the Administration protested, Haitian authorities
released the man.
Some Members of Congress and others expressed concern that there was a
perceived element of racism in U.S. refugee policy toward Haiti. Very few Haitians
seeking asylum were granted it, in contrast to the almost automatic granting of
permanent residence to Cubans (due in large part to the Cuban Adjustment Act of
1966). Some critics argued that failure to give Haiti the same designation “of special
humanitarian concern” given Cuba, considering Haiti’s decades-long record of
oppression, was a racist action. In addition, refugee advocates argued that the policy
violated a U.N. convention prohibiting all countries from sending back to a country
persons who have legitimate claims of political persecution.
As human rights violations grew worse in Haiti, President Aristide apparently
became increasingly uncomfortable with the forced repatriation policy. In early April
he called the policy racist and gave the six months’ notice needed to abrogate the
migration agreement effective October 4, 1994. The U.S. Coast Guard continues to
stop Haitian boats, however, on the grounds of intercepting ships deemed
unseaworthy. In the months following Aristide’s return to Haiti in October 1994, the
number of Haitians intercepted at sea was deemed “minuscule” by the State
Clinton Administration Migration Policy. Reversing his campaign
position, President Clinton continued the Bush Administration’s policy of
interdicting and immediately returning Haitians found at sea. During that time he
increased the number of U.S. officials in Haiti in order to speed up the processing of
asylum applications there. He also supported OAS and U.N. efforts to promote a
political settlement in Haiti, maintaining that these efforts would help eliminate the
reasons for Haitians fleeing the country.
As violence intensified in Haiti, however, so did criticism of President Clinton’s
migration policy. Some Members of the U.S. Congress were arrested protesting the
forced repatriation policy outside the White House, and activist Randall Robinson
went on a hunger strike until the policy was reversed. On May 8, 1994, the
Administration announced that it would set up immigration centers on ships anchored
near Haiti or in third countries so that Haitians interdicted at sea could apply for
asylum. On July 5, the Clinton Administration shifted its policy again, announcing
that processing for refugee status would no longer be conducted. Instead, Haitian
migrants interdicted at sea would be taken to the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay,
Cuba, and then sent to other countries in the region providing temporary safe haven.
The flow of Haitian migrants lessened after the new policy was announced, and most

interdicted Haitians remained at Guantanamo. At its peak, in late summer 1994,
about 14,300 Haitians were living in “safe haven” camps at Guantanamo Bay.
Two months after Aristide’s return, on December 29, 1994, the Administration
called on Haitians at safe haven camps at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay,
Cuba, to return to Haiti.
Socioeconomic Conditions
Even before the embargo, Haiti was one of the poorest countries in the world.
Living conditions for the poor majority in Haiti have not changed significantly in
many decades. National income per capita is $370, and about half the population is
unemployed. The vast majority of Haiti’s 6.3 million people live in absolute poverty
and about 47% of the adult population is illiterate. Only 43% of the population has
access to safe water. Infectious disease is widespread among the poor. More than
half the population reportedly suffers from malnutrition. The infant mortality rate is
95 per 1,000 births. Life expectancy is about 54 years (compared to 76 years in the
United States). Only one-third of Haitian soil is cultivable, yet some 70% of the
population depends on agriculture. Engaged in small-scale, subsistence farming,
peasants with unclear titles to the land earn an average annual per capita income of
$150. Overpopulation and overcultivation of arable land have led to considerable
deforestation and erosion, a process exacerbated by embargo-driven fuel shortages.
Disorder and labor strikes before and since Duvalier’s departure have led to
significant economic deterioration and the collapse of the once-important tourism
industry. In the past, foreign manufacturers successfully recruited and trained Haitian
work forces, but the U.S. and U.N. Embargoes closed down most export assembly
Many reports indicate the OAS and U.S. embargoes had a devastating economic
and ecological impact on Haiti. An estimated 150,000 jobs were initially lost in the
assembly, service, and local industrial sectors. Fuel shortages led to power
blackouts, limited, more costly public transportation, and serious ecological damage
as Haitians cut trees for charcoal in an already eroded landscape. Medical care
deteriorated under the embargoes, with hospitals in Port-au-Prince suspending most
major surgery because of the lack of anesthetics and other drugs; there were also
reports of outbreaks of measles and malaria, which were once well controlled in
Haiti. According to a March 1994 AID report, “the nutritional status of children has
worsened since March 1993 in every region except the South,” and severe
malnutrition is “at the highest level in several years (with the exception of August


Although U.S. assistance to the Haitian government was suspended after the
September 30, 1991 coup, humanitarian assistance in the form of food and
development assistance continued after the coup, with delivery through Private
Voluntary Organizations (PVOs). For FY1993, approximately $108 million was
obligated, including $41 million in food aid, $23 million in development assistance,
and $44 million in ESF assistance. Obligations for FY1994 totaled $105.6 million,
including almost $43 million in food aid, $26 million in development assistance, and
$37 million in ESF. Estimated obligations for FY1995 totaled almost $201 million
and included $15.5 million in ESF for peacekeeping. Shipments of humanitarian oil

helped PVOs to deliver food and services under the U.N. oil embargo, although there
were reports that many Haitians had difficulty reaching those services with the
reduced public transportation that resulted from the embargo.
Drug Trafficking
According to the Department of State, Haiti is a significant transhipment point
for the movement of illegal narcotics, especially cocaine, into the United States.
When President Aristide first took office, he said that combating drug trafficking was
a top priority of his government. This was not true of the subsequent military current
regime. According to a September 1992 State Department report, “although Haitian
media and other sources have reported an upsurge in illicit drug traffic since late

1991, government counternarcotics efforts remain sporadic and focused on lower-

echelon traffickers.” The U.S. aid cutoff suspended narcotics programs carried out
with the Haitian government. The U.S. and Aristide government had signed an
agreement providing for joint support of Haitian counternarcotics projects, but
because of the coup this accord was not implemented.
Well-informed analysts say that some members at all levels of the military were
involved in drug trafficking, and that this involvement contributed to the military’s
reluctance to give up power and allow Aristide’s return. Despite these charges, the
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration was reportedly providing the Haitian military
with intelligence on narcotics trafficking, including information on drugs going into
Haiti to the Haitian anti-narcotics unit headed by army Col. Antoine Atouriste.
Atouriste was among the 41 Haitians whose U.S. assets were frozen in 1993 for
“obstructing the restoration of democracy in Haiti” or contributing to its general
climate of violence. Reportedly, the anti-narcotics unit had no accounting system for
seized drugs, and U.S. officials did not know what happened to drugs seized by the
Haitian military. A U.S. official reportedly said that the U.S. embassy regularly
received reports of Haitian military involvement in drug trafficking, but that they had
not been verified