*LEF206   01/17/95


TR95011706 (Safe and secure environment exists)+bc (560)

By Bruce Carey

USIA Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- The spirit of international cooperation is saving the

democratic future of Haiti, says Marine Corps Gen. John Sheehan,

commander-in-chief of the U.S. Atlantic Command.

Sheehan is the overall commander of U.S. forces that preceeded the

multinational force now in Haiti and of U.S. troops that continue to serve

with that force.  He told reporters in Port-au-Prince, Buenos Aires,

Tegucigalpa, Amman, and Cotonou in a USIA Worldnet broadcast Jan. 17 that

the mission to restore democracy is succeeding in Haiti because the world

community decided to participate.

"The process of restoring democracy is well on its way," he said.  "Violence

1s down.  There are no weapons on the street.

"It is a safe and secure environment.  Commerce is being conducted.  There

is free movement in the streets," the general noted.

The multinational force in Haiti is set to be relieved by March, once the

United Nations declares that a "safe and secure environment" exists for

movement into the country of U.N. forces.  The successful effort to create

that environment "speaks legions to this concept of internationalism in

problem solving," said Sheehan.  "Now it is up to the international

community to invest in Haiti," he said.

"The international community must respond" to crises such as that in Haiti

and Rwanda," he asserted.  "It is going to take a policy of engagement by

the international community" for such future efforts to succeed.

The U.N. force will be about 6,000 strong, including about 2,400 Americans,

and is expected to remain until about March 1996.  "U.S. particiation in

multinational forces under U.N. mandates will continue," he predicted.

Sheehan said the best test of the effort in Haiti will be whether President

Jean-Bertrand Aristide's successor makes a peaceful transition into office

after next year's elections.  "That is when you really will know that

democracy has taken hold in Haiti," said the general.

"Reconciliation is the key" to continued progress toward rebuilding Haiti.

In the meantime, "it is incumbent on everybody to remain vigilant" against

anti-democratic forces.

"That is why the reconciliation process is so important, because there is a

small segment of that population that still resorts to intimidation and the

use of force," he said.

Any effort to disarm recalcitrant factions during the transition "has to be

based on intelligence, not a house-to-house search" that would violate the

rights of Haitian citizens, Sheehan said, adding that it is the Haitians

themselves who must keep order.

He said international forces are there only to maintain political stability

in accordance with U.N. Security Council Resolution 940.  "They are the

first ones to go to resolve this problem.  The international police

monitors, the multinational force, and the U.N. force are really there to

encourage the Haitians to solve their own problem," he said.

"The real future is in economic recovery putting the Haitian people back to

work with dignity in a democratic process," said the general.  "The

international community will only stay engaged as long as the environment

in Haiti is good enough for them to continue to invest in Haiti."