IN OTHER WORDS: Wrong move

Haiti was a deeply troubled democracy when the Bush administration took office. Now it is an even more deeply troubled non-democracy. One thing that contributed to Haiti’s present plight, Walt Bogdanich and Jenny Nordberg of The New York Times reported last Sunday, was a “democracy building” programme financed by the US and run by the International Republican Institute.

The Institute, whose chairman is Senator John McCain and whose president is a former Bush administration official, was set up during the 1980s to channel taxpayers’ dollars toward strengthening democracy in other countries. Congress intended this financing system to move American support for democracy in other countries out of the shrouded world of covert intelligence and into the daylight of political training institutes. But according to the report, much of the institute’s activities in Haiti (2001-03) were carried out in a shadowy world of secret meetings and efforts to isolate and destabilise the democratically elected government.

Haiti is worse off today. Murder rules the slums of Port-au-Prince, and a UN peacekeeping force struggles even to protect itself. Dates for new elections have been repeatedly postponed. The latest date is set for next week. We hope this begins to undo some of the damage done.