The United States hoped sending a heavily armed brigade of several
thousand troops to Barahona, a small city on the southern coast of the Dominican
Republic 50 miles from the Haitian border, would go unnoticed.
But the progressive movement in the Dominican Republic held a series of demonstrations
in late February exposing this potential threat to Cuba, Venezuela, and Puerto
Rico, to the elections scheduled for Haiti and to progressives in the Dominican
The U.S. and the Dominican army put out the cover story that the U.S. troops
were there to provide medical assistance. Oscar Moreta, a member of the Patriotic
Anti-Imperialist Committee of Barahona, told the Cuban News Agency Prensa Latina,
“Those of us who live in Barahona have been able to confirm that they
have tanks, armored vehicles, attack helicopters, radar and many weapons, and
we understand that those are not things used to build clinics.”
There are rumors circulating in Bara hona that the troops are the advanced
guard of an eventual 14,000, designed to pose a major threat to any U.S. opponents
in the region.
Although René Préval is Haiti’s president-elect, after
a massive popular struggle, he can’t take office until the Haitian parliament
is seated. The second round of parliamentary elections is currently scheduled
for April 21-23, which means that the votes won’t be counted and the victors
seated until some time in May.
The danger to Haiti is that the U.S. troops in Barahona could intervene against
Préval, whom they see as an ally of deposed President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.