The departure from Haiti of its president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, marks the opening of a new chapter in the history of that unlucky country. It is also the end of an era of nation-building that demonstrates that the United States, and the international community in general, are unwilling to demonstrate full commitment in a place where winning the peace might have been possible.
The crucial period in their failure was after 1994, when Aristide was restored to the presidency by force of US arms after a three-year exile. Then, the fitful largesse of the international donor community meant that Haiti’s greatest resource – its own citizens – were not given a chance to reclaim their own country.
“Iraq is in the most crucial few months of its history since its formation as a modern state in the 1920s”, the Iraqi activist Isam al-Khafaji told Globolog this week. If he’s right, careful thought, word and action is more important now than ever. And the role of women in Iraq’s future is central.
The man I will call Jose Miguel used to be director of a health clinic in a small town in Colombia. One day a group of paramilitary fighters arrived and set up camp in the clinic for several days. After they had left, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) arrived. They threatened Jose Miguel with death because he had, they said, “collaborated” with the paramilitary.
In another village, a health worker was threatened by the paramilitary for allegedly offering medical assistance to the FARC. Both have fled their homes and are now among the displaced in Bogota. In Colombia’s forty years of armed conflict, and especially in the last fifteen, such stories have become so commonplace that individually they attract little attention: only the collective suffering weighs enough to be acknowledged – the experience repeated in its hundreds of thousands. But the details of lives disrupted and destroyed, and the steady erosion of any peaceful, civic ground in a country increasingly defined and conditioned by its armed extremes – this is a story now almost untold and untellable in Colombia.