An article last Saturday about U.N. sanctions against Haiti misstated the date on which a broadened U.N. embargo of Haiti is to take effect. The date is May 21.
Correction ran May 11, 1994
The Security Council voted today to impose a nearly total trade embargo on Haiti as well as financial and travel restrictions on Haiti's military leaders to press them to make way for the return of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The toughened sanctions reflect the Clinton administration's new policy to try, once again, to squeeze recalcitrant generals out of power. The United States had resisted the step for months and even now voted for it reluctantly. Tightening the "sanctions noose" was "a step we did not want to have to take," said U.S. Ambassador Madeleine K. Albright. "We know that sanctions are a blunt instrument." The broadened embargo takes effect May 27, and the other sanctions are to be imposed immediately.
Today's initiative brings the United States back into line with Aristide, who called for it last September despite the likely suffering for his many supporters among the poor who form Haiti's overwhelming majority. Aristide grew impatient as Washington tried to press him to compromise with the military. Last month, Aristide denounced as "racist" the Clinton administration's policy of repatriating Haitian boat people -- a policy on which Aristide formerly had maintained an uneasy silence. The new sanctions, approved unanimously, expand on a worldwide oil and arms embargo imposed in June 1993 that proved ineffective in keeping oil from the military. The moves that take effect today ban private plane flights in and out of Haiti, thus precluding wealthy Haitians and the military elite from using their aircraft to circumvent the embargo. Authorized aid flights and regular airline flights are not affected. Also starting today, all military and police officers, their most prominent civilian supporters and their families are to be barred from traveling outside Haiti. The ban affects about 600 officers and relatives -- who already had been excluded from traveling to the United States since soon after the 1991 coup led by the armed forces commander, Lt. Gen. Raoul Cedras. The Security Council "urges" a worldwide freeze on the assets of these coup supporters but does not make it mandatory because of conflicts with the laws of some key nations, including Britain. The global trade embargo -- from which medicine, food, and cooking fuels are exempted -- goes into effect May 21 to provide 15 days for military leaders to resign and spare Haiti renewed isolation. The resolution explicitly demands that Cedras; his deputy, Gen. Philippe Biamby; and the Port-au-Prince police chief, Lt. Col. Michel Francois, step down. The Clinton administration had insisted that such sanctions be coupled with negotiations between Aristide and politicians remaining in Haiti to lay down a political foundation for his return. But no discussions are underway, and there was an uneasy feeling in the Security Council that if the trade embargo fails to suffocate the military regime, the only alternatives will be armed intervention or a wave of despairing Haitians in frail boats drifting toward Florida. Aristide has opposed U.S. military intervention. The resolution comes under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter, which allows for enforcement by military action. About a dozen ships from the United States, Argentina, Canada and France will continue patrolling waters around Haiti, with search-and-seize powers to stop illegal goods. The oil embargo was ineffective because of massive smuggling across Haiti's land border with the Dominican Republic. President Joaquin Balaguer has asked the United Nations to make preparations for U.N. monitors to be stationed along the border, U.N. officials said, but has made clear he will take no real action until after national elections in mid-May. The United Nations suspended the oil embargo briefly at a crucial juncture last year after Cedras and Aristide signed an agreement in New York that included the retirement of Cedras. But, freed momentarily from the embargo, the general balked at resigning and the accord collapsed. The Security Council agreed it will not lift the new sanctions until the military leaders are gone, the police and army commands have been reformed, the legislature has adopted a political amnesty and Aristide, Haiti's first democratically elected president, is back in office. In a report this week, U.N. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali warned the international community it has taken on a "prejudicial" role, which encouraged Haitians to "seek refuge" rather than working among themselves for a political settlement. In remarks that seemed aimed especially at Aristide, Boutros-Ghali warned that international efforts would fail without "a willingness to compromise on both sides." Boutros-Ghali also accused the Haitian military of launching "an intensive campaign of repression" against Aristide's followers in Haiti, including at least a dozen cases of politically motivated rape. "The number of murders remained at an alarming level," Boutros-Ghali wrote, and there were "very large numbers of arbitrary arrests, illegal detentions, abductions and enforced disappearances, as well as ... secret detention centers in Port-au-Prince." U.S. aid agencies, which are already helping to feed 1 million Haitians daily, will add 400,000 Haitians to their program to try to counteract the effect of the trade embargo, U.S. officials said. But the United States will not consider sending U.S. soldiers to Haiti to train military and police until safe conditions exist, a U.S. official said. The Clinton administration's credibility was severely eroded after the USS Harlan County, an American warship carrying U.S. troops for such a training mission, retreated from Port-au-Prince harbor as armed mobs demonstrated on the docks.