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Must learndly read, too; in part, of intellectual rigor
|Posted Tuesday, May 29, 2007|
|Fast growing cocaine running jeopardizes what's minuscully left of Haiti|
|By Isabelle Linger, Agence France-Presse Writer|
JEREMIE, Haiti (AFP): The mention of its name closes mouths and diverts eyes, but cocaine is everywhere in Haiti, an unstable society exploited by traffickers eager to move their illegal merchandise to the United States.
"It's best not to talk about drugs," said one resident of Jeremie, in southwestern Haiti.
"But everyone knows that it comes by speed boat or small plane from Colombia."
"The most frequent deliveries are made around the peninsula, near Dame-Marie or near the keys," said a policeman who spoke on condition of anonymity.
"You can follow the cocaine by tracing the money locally, even to the homes of some of my colleagues and sometimes the local population want a piece of it."
Sharing the Caribbean island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic makes Haiti one of the most convenient ports of call for cocaine leaving Colombia for Florida, the southernmost US state.
Convenience for traffickers is also measured in Haiti's weak legal system, easily bribed police and 1,500-kilometer (900-mile) coastline that is so unprotected that Haiti has allowed since 1997 US patrols into its waters and US planes into its airspace to chase smugglers.
Haiti remains a paradise for drug runners despite the presence of 9,200 UN troops, sent after president Jean Bertrand Aristide went into self-imposed exile in 2004 as the country slipped into renewed violence.
"Cocaine does not arrive only by boat but often by airplanes, which land in small, clandestine airstrips and even the Americans lack the means to protect Haiti's airspace," said UN human rights monitor for the UN troops, Thierry Faggart.
"Protection of the land, air and sea borders is a matter of money," he said.
"Haiti continues to be a transshipment point for Colombian cocaine headed for Europe and the United States.
"It is a long-term destabilization problem."
Haiti neither makes nor consumes cocaine, but the powder corrupts many sectors of one of the poorest countries in the hemisphere.
"Growth of drug trafficking in Haiti is one of the main reasons the national police, just a decade old, was so quickly corrupted," Faggart said.
During a recent trip to the United States, President Rene Preval asked for US aid, saying that his country did not have the means to combat the traffickers.
"So long as the demand exists, there will be production and Haiti will be used as a transshipment country," he said.
"Do not let the little countries alone," he said at an anti-drug summit in Santo Domingo.
This struggle is one is "between titans," he said.
Colombia produces 90 percent of US-bound cocaine, according to the US State Department.
The Dominican Republic is also a transshipment country, whose President Leonel Fernandez has accused the United States of reducing by more than 60 percent its surveillance of the Caribbean, with fewer ships and planes dedicated to the pursuit of traffickers.
A recent Government Accountability Office study warned that US fleets of planes and ships cannot patrol the Caribbean for much longer at the current pace without major overhauls and replacement.
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