Tougher Haiti sanctions being pushed by U.S.

January 26, 1994|By Knight-Ridder Newspapers

WASHINGTON -- Discounting reports of growing malnutrition in Haiti, the United States plans to press tougher economic sanctions against the country's de facto rulers at the United Nations, officials say.

In U.N. consultations today, the Clinton administration was to endorse expanding the trade embargo -- a voluntary, hemispheric boycott -- into a mandatory, worldwide ban on most commerce with Haiti, the officials said yesterday.

"The sanctions are starting to work. There is pressure on the military leaders. We believe that a diplomatic approach backed by sanctions is the only reasonable approach. We must be firm on the sanctions," said Alexander Watson, assistant secretary of state for inter-American affairs.

Mr. Watson and Lawrence Pezzullo, the special U.S. adviser for Haiti, separately dismissed news reports that international economic pressure against Haiti is thwarting feeding programs there and could set the stage for famine. They said that 38 stations staffed by the Agency for International Development have detected no starvation and no appreciable rise in malnutrition and that humanitarian shipments of fuel have not been held up by authorities.

"Sanctions are not pretty," Mr. Pezzullo said yesterday. "But there is very little evidence of people dying of hunger in Haiti."

President Clinton's national security team met yesterday to confer on final details of the new sanctions. Officials said the administration probably would seek to preserve existing exemptions for basic foodstuffs and medicines and to allow continued shipments to a handful of U.S.-licensed assembly companies still operating in Haiti.

Envoys from Canada, France and Venezuela were to meet with U.S. officials today to draft a resolution for Security Council consideration. Paris and Ottawa already have approved the move in theory, although diplomats anticipate some resistance from China and possibly other nations before the sanctions come to a vote.

"I will not be surprised if a concrete proposal emerges" today, said Alvaro De Soto, a special adviser to the U.N. secretary general. A vote by the council could take place by the end of the week, aides said.

Meanwhile, leaders of the Organization of American States and the U.N. prepared to quietly reintroduce several dozen human-rights monitors into the Caribbean nation, diplomats told the Miami Herald.

The monitors, who had totaled as many as 200 in October, were ordered out of the country by their superiors amid security concerns after a throng of dockside protesters kept a U.S. military transport ship from disembarking more than 200 U.S. and Canadian troops and advisers in Haiti.

The OAS, which represents 34 Western Hemisphere nations, has long argued that conditions are safe enough to send back the monitors.

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