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Exiled Haitian president Aristide to speak at Stanford

STANFORD -- Exiled Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide will lecture at 7:30 p.m. Monday, April 18, at Stanford University's Memorial Auditorium. The talk is co-sponsored by the ASSU Speakers Bureau and the Center for Latin American Studies.

Tickets will be made available on a first-come, first-served basis during the week prior to the event. The distribution policy and location have yet to be determined.

"Haiti's current political situation and the flood of refugees to the United States that it has prompted is one of the major problems facing the Clinton administration," said Melind John, director of the ASSU Speakers Bureau. "We feel that the Stanford community would greatly benefit from hearing and seeing first-hand the man who is the focal point of the American policy on Haiti."

In his address, Aristide is expected to address the situation in Haiti and how the United States has responded.

Aristide was elected president of Haiti in 1990, garnering about 70 percent of the popular vote. In September 1991, less than nine months later, Aristide was ousted in a military coup led by General Raoul Cedras.

Both the United States and the United Nations have been using a combination of diplomatic negotiations and economics sanctions to push Haiti's military rulers to give up power. An embargo of oil and weapons, supported by an American naval blockade, has seriously harmed the Haitian economy. Gasoline on the island now sells for $10 a gallon, for example.

The American government also has frozen all Haitian assets in the United States, but many observers feel that action has had little effect, as the military leaders are believed to be supported by drug trafficking and protection rackets. The Haitian leaders also have taken advantage of the porous border with the Dominican Republic in order to obtain supplies.

The military government participated in talks last July in New York arranged by the United Nations. An agreement to restore the democratic government led by Aristide by Oct. 30 was ignored, however. This month, the United Nations is scheduled to vote on whether to extend the embargo to prohibit all forms of trade except for food, medicine and other humanitarian supplies.

Aristide's frequent objections to American policy toward Haiti have made him a controversial figure. His reputation was further damaged when the CIA circulated a report characterizing him as suffering from depression and extreme mood swings, and implying that he was bordering on the psychotic.

Allegations that Aristide has encouraged violence against his political opponents have netted him some opponents among American political leaders, most notably Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.),

In addition to the speakers bureau and the Center for Latin American Studies, three academic departments (North America Forum, the Institute for International Studies and the Program in International Relations) and two student organizations (Stanford in Government and the Caribbean Students Association) are co-sponsoring the appearance by Aristide.



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