NEWS VALUES, NEWS STRATEGIES:
THE NEW YORK TIMES IN HAITI, 1994-96
On October 11, 1992, more than 2,000 people gathered in protest
outside the New York Times building in Manhattan. The object of their protest:
Times coverage of Haiti, in particular the reporting of Caribbean correspondent
The protesters charged that Times' coverage following the September
30, 1991 coup that overthrew Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide was
weighted heavily against Aristide. Howard French, they said, was an instrument
of a U.S. foreign policy determined to keep the progressive president in exile
as long as possible. His reports from Haiti relied heavily on sources connected
to Haiti's military regime and the wealthy elite who opposed Aristide. And, they
said, French ignored sources with ties to the much larger pro-Aristide rural
majority. Aristide himself, the protesters pointed out, had not been interviewed
by French since the coup.
Times editor Max Frankel defended French in a letter to the protesting
groups. Two weeks later, however, Aristide was given space on the Times op-ed
page and, soon after, French published an interview with Aristide (Orenstein,
1993a; 1993b; Chomsky, 1993).
In the months and years after the coup, as Aristide's exile in the
United States dragged on, his supporters continued to find fault with French's
coverage of Haiti. They charged that French, following Washington's lead,
treated with deference the military coup leaders. Moreover, they said, he and
the Times contributed to a smear campaign against Aristide, giving prominent
coverage to allegations that Aristide had been an egotistical, perhaps
unbalanced leader who encouraged violence and vengeance among his supporters
In July 1994, perhaps in response to the critical pressure or simply
as part of a regular rotation, Larry Rohter, the Times Miami bureau chief,
assumed the position of Caribbean correspondent, offering a fresh start to Times
coverage of Haiti. It was a critical time: The Clinton administration struggled
with how to restore the democratically-elected president while also appeasing
U.S. and international business interests; a U.S. invasion was called off at the
last moment; U.S. peace-keeping forces eventually landed in Haiti; Aristide
returned to power, and after he served out his term, the Haitian people elected
a new president. In the midst of such crucial changes and in the context of the
Times' previous coverage, Rohter's reporting merited close scrutiny. This paper
offers such scrutiny.
It's unusual, but not rare, for individual correspondents to attract
such critical attention. Traditionally, criticism has been most intense when
reporters vary too much from U.S. foreign policy lines. Recent examples include
the controversy over Ray Bonner's reporting from El Salvador for the Times and
the heated debate over Peter Arnett's Gulf War reporting from Baghdad for CNN.
Times reporters in particular attract scrutiny due to the paper's status among
national and international officials as well as its agenda-setting influence on
other media (Berry, 1990). The questions here: How did Rohter report on the
changes unfolding in Haiti and to what extent did his reporting confirm or
confront U.S. foreign policy dictates? They are questions of increasing
relevance in a post-Cold War world.
INTERNATIONAL NEWS VALUES
The scrutiny of Times coverage of Haiti took place in the context of a
larger debate on international news values, a subject of much concern in the
post-Cold War era (Galtung and Vincent, 1992; Gaunt, 1990; O'Heffernan, 1991).
Numerous commentators have noted that the press has long covered international
affairs from the perspective of America's interests (Altschull, 1995; Hoge,
1993). The Cold War of course offered the premier model for such coverage,
providing basic, enduring, organizing principles for selecting and reporting
international events. Those organizing principles are now obsolete. As Hallin
(1987, p. 23) writes: "The Cold War perspective, which once organized virtually
all foreign affairs coverage into an ideological picture supportive of American
world hegemony, now no longer does so."
With no dominant framework -- or metanarrative (Hallin, 1987) -- to
replace the organizing and authorizing powers of the Cold War model, journalists
now operate in a vacuum of values. The editor of Foreign Affairs, James F. Hoge
(1993, p. 1), states, "With the old gauges broken, the press is struggling to
understand the new international order of risks and opportunities." Vanden
Heuvel (1993, p. 12) makes a similar observation. The media, he notes, "are
still struggling to develop a satisfactory new approach to reporting the world."
The end of the Cold War has opened new horizons for the
American media, but embedded in that wider perspective is
the problem of making sense of a world in which change is
the only constant. The old criteria for covering foreign
affairs on the East-West confrontation model -- and many of
the old standards of newsworthiness -- don't apply in a
post-Cold War model (p. 19).
Some suggest that with U.S. foreign policy similarly uprooted, U.S.
media coverage may drive policy. "Policy seems to follow the media spotlight,"
Vanden Heuvel (1993, p. 12) writes, citing Somalia and Bosnia as examples. Hoge
(1993, p. 6) says, "Foreign policy-makers speak as if they are bedeviled by the
nature of post-Cold War press coverage, often alleging that it is television
film footage that dominates agenda-setting."
Other argue however that the dissolution of the Cold War model may
render the press even more vulnerable to U.S. foreign policy dictates. Unwilling
to articulate national interests and unable to find a coherent frame of
reference for organizing costly foreign coverage, the press may increasingly
focus its attention on domestic matters, venturing off-shore only when U.S.
foreign policy is already in play (Hallin; 1987; Traber,
The New York Times has directly acknowledged the controversy and
confusion raised by the removal of the Cold War framework. In an internal memo
since published, foreign editor Bernard Gwertzman (1993) confronted the need for
new approaches. He began:
To the foreign staff: I thought it might be useful to share
some ideas on where we are and where we should be going in
our foreign coverage in the post-Cold War environment. What
has spurred this memo, of course, is the breakup of the
Soviet Union and Gorbachev's resignation at Christmas 1991,
which followed so closely upon the collapse of the communist
system in Eastern Europe two years earlier. Not only have
these developments drastically altered the world's political
map, but they have had an inevitable impact on how we as
reporters and editors do our jobs (p. 33).
Gwertzman acknowledged the "remarkable" previous influence of U.S.
foreign policy and the nuclear superpower rivalry on reporting. "This
competition consciously and subconsciously dominated government policies,
affecting newspaper coverage as well," he said. "Without this threat of nuclear
destruction, there is an obvious need to question some of our assumptions about
coverage" (p. 34). While unable or unwilling to offer specific directives on
news values, Gwertzman made it clear that new thinking was in order.
We are all professionals and it makes little sense in trying
to define for a reporter what is news and what isn't. But it
is certainly true that we have widened our net considerably
on what we want to cover and some of the traditional
political stories of the past may not resonate as they did
before (pp. 37-38).
In these twinned contexts of controvery over Haitian coverage and
confusion over international news values, Larry Rohter took on his position as
Caribbean correspondent for the Times. The purpose of this paper is to examine
Rohter's reporting from Haiti, placing that reporting within the particular
concerns over Times Haitian coverage and, more broadly, the global concerns over
post-Cold War news values. Specifically, the paper first offers Burke's
sociological criticism -- with its in-depth treatment of text strategies -- as
an appropriate method for consideration of news values. After brief context on
recent U.S.-Haitian relations as well as background on Rohter, the paper takes
up an analysis of Rohter's correspondence from Haiti. The period examined is
July 1, 1994, the beginning of Rohter's correspondence, to February 29, 1996,
the month of the Haitian elections. The study concludes by placing the reporting
within the larger context of international news values and the struggle over
news strategies in a post-Cold War era.
STRATEGIES FOR SITUATIONS
For analyses of texts and values, the work of the literary and social
critic Kenneth Burke is particularly appropriate. In a number of works, Burke
pursued an encompassing "sociological criticism" that attempts to construct a
grammar of motives and values (1969; 1973, pp. 293-304; also, 1-137; 1984, pp.
5-36). In by-now familiar terms, Burke argued that critical and imaginative
works could be studied as "strategies for dealing with situations" (1973, p.
296). "These strategies," he said (1973, p. 1), "size up the situations, name
their structure and outstanding ingredients, and name them in a way that
contains an attitude towards them."
Strategies were of interest to Burke because they offered entry into
motives and values. Strategies placed the critical focus on what a text was
designed to do. Burke's method was straightforward. Analyzing an individual
poem, for example, the critic "assumes that the poem is designed to 'do
something' for the poet and his readers, and that we can make the most relevant
observations about its design by considering the poem as the embodiment of this
act" (1973, p. 89). The approach "assumes that a poem's structure is to be
described most accurately by thinking always of the poem's function" (p. 89).
Burke's approach then proceeded beyond the individual work and sought
to organize strategies among works. The works were organized in response to the
critic's project; they could be the works of an individual writer, a literary
school, a publication, an era. "I am simply proposing, in the social sphere, a
method of classification with reference to strategies," he said (1973, p. 303).
The critic assembles and codifies his lore, in "classifications, groupings, made
on the basis of some strategic element common to the group" (p. 302). The
following paragraph contains some of Burke's most evocative words:
What would such sociological categories be like? They would
consider works of art, I think, as strategies for selecting
enemies and allies, for socializing losses, for warding off
evil eye, for purification, propitiation, and desanctifica-
tion, consolation and vengeance, admonition and exhortation,
implicit commands or instructions of one sort or another.
Art forms like "tragedy" or "comedy" or "satire" would be
treated as equipments for living, that size up situations in
various ways and in keeping with correspondingly various
attitudes (p. 304).
The goal of Burke's project was to find a word for what already has
been said. Or as Geertz said in another context (1973, p. 27), the goal was to
"uncover the conceptual structures that inform our subjects' acts, the 'said' of
It needs to be stressed that the concept of strategy applied here is
broader than the notion of one reporter's conscious intentions or motivations.
Press reports are complex texts, influenced by sources, editorial policy, news
canon, narrative conventions, and other forces.
From this perspective then, the study analyzes and categorizes Larry
Rohter's stories from Haiti, organizing the discussion around strategic elements
common to the group. Each report was designed to do something for Times readers,
in Burke's words, and the analysis takes up each report on those terms. Then, by
assembling the strategies underlying the entire correspondence, the study hopes
to provide a basis for examining that correspondence in the context of news
To ground this analysis, the paper first offers brief background on
recent relations between Haiti and the United States. U.S. actions in Haiti
during the 1990s have been confusing, convoluted and otherwise hard to follow. A
brief summary may prove useful before analysis of the reporting.
'THE USES OF HAITI': THE 1990s
In 1986, after the Duvalier family dictatorship had devastated Haiti
for three decades, demonstrations and dissent finally succeeded in deposing
Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier. Many Haitians sought a period of dechoukaj --
an uprooting -- of the dictatorial past from their politics and culture. But a
military junta, led by General Henri Namphy who had the support of the United
States, held power.
Popular resistance -- which came to be called lavalas, a kind of
purifying flood or outpouring -- increased. It began to coalesce around a
Catholic priest, the Rev. Jean-Bertrand Aristide who had returned to Haiti in
1985 after three years of graduate study in Montreal. Aristide combined
liberation theology with a progressive social policy of land reform, just wages,
and the end to military oppression. He attracted broad and intense support among
the rural poor and urban youth.
For four years, Haiti endured political turmoil; hundreds of people
were killed as the military attempted to suppress dissent. The elections of
December 1990 marked a major turning point. Aristide, who had been expelled from
his Salesian order, agreed to run for president against the U.S.-backed
candidate Marc Bazin. Aristide swept to victory with almost 70 percent of the
Haiti's wealthy elite, who still had huge resources, felt they had
little to lose by trying to stop Aristide. On September 29, 1991, Aristide was
overthrown by a military coup, financed by Haiti's upper class. Tales of U.S.
complicity or at least support continue to be told. Aristide was flown to
Caracas, Venezuela, and General Raoul Cedras took power.
The Bush administration offered little support to Aristide, despite
the fact that he was a democratically elected president brought into office by a
large majority. A weak embargo was put into place but the administration was
more interested in restoring a constitutional democracy than in restoring
Aristide. With little U.S. pressure, the coup leaders began a campaign of
extermination against Aristide's supporters. Bodies lay in the streets each
morning and the death toll rose in the thousands. Aristide's supporters fled
Haiti but the Bush administration, claiming that the refugees were not fleeing
political persecution, instituted a policy of returning them forcibly to Haiti.
Haitian backers of the coup, along with sympathetic U.S. officials,
began a propaganda campaign against Aristide with materials that recently have
been denounced as crude and false CIA disinformation (Naureckas, 1994). A file
of Aristide's alleged human rights abuses was circulated to reporters and
Congress. "Aristide's Autocratic Ways Ended Haiti's Embrace of Democracy," was
the headline of one New York Times story by Howard French. Another rumor was
circulated that Aristide was a manic-depressive.
During the 1992 presidential campaign, Bill Clinton promised to change
U.S. policy toward Haiti. Some promises were broken. Bowing to pressure from
Florida officials who feared an influx of Haitians, Clinton said in January 1993
that he would maintain Bush's policy of returning refugees to Haiti. Clinton
did however work at restoring Aristide to power and in March 1993 Clinton met
Clinton found that General Cedras was unwilling to relinquish power.
Days after a much stiffer embargo was imposed in June 1993, Cedras came to
Governors Island in New York and a tentative agreement was reached. Blanket
amnesty would be granted to the military. And Aristide would be returned to
power by October 30 in a process monitored by the United Nations.
Months of terror followed as military death squads lashed out at
Aristide supporters. And in early October, Cedras reneged on the agreement.
Throughout 1994, the Clinton administration threatened military action against
the coup leaders. The issue bitterly divided U.S. leftist politics between those
who opposed any U.S. intervention in Haiti and those who wished to see the
progressive Aristide restored to his rightful position (Regan, 1994; Landy,
On September 15, Clinton appeared on national television to announce
an imminent invasion of Haiti. On September 17, as the invasion neared, a
high-profile U.S. delegation made a final attempt at diplomacy with Cedras. The
delegation included former president Jimmy Carter, former chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee
Sam Nunn. Military planes were in the air, heading toward Haiti, when a deal was
reached and the planes were recalled. Within weeks, some 16,000 U.S. troops
landed unchallenged in Haiti. Aristide was returned to power.
For 16 months, Aristide served out the remainder of his term, ending
the oppression by the military and introducing reforms in wages, work, health
and justice. Forbidden by the constitution to succeed himself, he oversaw
elections in June 1995. Rene Preval, Aristide's prime minister, was elected
president and was inaugurated in February 1996.
William Lawrence Rohter, known personally and professionally as Larry
Rohter, was responsible for reporting the tumult and turmoil within Haiti for
The New York Times. He had joined the Times in 1984, after writing for the Style
section of The Washington Post and serving as bureau chief in Latin America and
Asia for Newsweek. Fluent in Portuguese and Spanish, and conversant in Chinese,
he was the Times Mexico City bureau chief from 1987 to 1990 and the Miami bureau
chief from 1991 to 1994, a position that entailed some Caribbean reporting. In
July 1994, he returned full-time to international reporting as Caribbean
correspondent for the Times. His first report appeared July 8. Its subject:
Haitian refugees (1994, July 8, p. 6A). Panamanian President Guillermo Endara
announced that he was withdrawing his offer to provide "safe haven" for 10,000
Haitians. And with that story, Rohter's reporting on Haiti began.
STRATEGIES FOR SITUATIONS
All of Rohter's correspondence from July 1, 1994 to February 29, 1996
was studied, a total of 196 stories. Rohter's Caribbean beat took him to Cuba,
Panama, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Bahamas, Colombia, Trinidad, Honduras and El
Salvador. Yet Haiti dominated Rohter's work. In July 1994, his first month on
the beat, he filed only from Haiti. Through September, October and November of
1994, as Aristide reassumed power, Rohter again filed only from Haiti. Indeed,
of Rohter's 196 stories, 120 were about Haiti. During periods of intense
activity, such as the negotiations between the U.S. delegation and the military
junta, and the subsequent landing of U.S. troops, Rohter was filing daily, at
times penning two stories a day.
Following Burke, the study identified and analyzed strategies embedded
in Rohter's correspondence. From the language of Rohter's reporting, the study
isolated four categories, organized by dominant strategic elements common to the
group. These strategies -- the delegitimation of the de facto government, the
approbation and then disapprobation of Aristide, the avoidance of U.S.-FRAPH
ties, and the degradation of Haitian life -- are examined in the following
THE DELEGITIMATION OF THE 'DE FACTO' GOVERNMENT
A primary strategy in Rohter's early reporting, in the midst of
Aristide's exile, was the delegitimation of the military junta. Rohter effected
this strategy in four ways. He chronicled numerous killings and other acts of
violence by the junta. He employed sources who denounced the group. He labeled
the junta with terms of illegitimacy. And he reported, with almost satisfying
detail, the humiliation of junta members as they were forced into exile.
The delegitimation of the de facto government was first accomplished
through accounts of murders and beatings inflicted by its forces. For example,
within hours after U.N. human rights monitors were expelled by the junta, the
military increased its terror. Rohter highlighted the killings the next day and
dismissed the junta's explanations. "Immediately after the rights observers were
expelled, a dozen men whose identities remain unknown were killed and secretly
buried," Rohter wrote (1994, July 17, sec. 1, p. 6). Government officials
described "the victims" as car thieves, Rohter continued, "but the American
Embassy isn't buying the story."
The same week, Rohter quoted an unnamed source that "the repression
has become ferocious" (1994, July 20, p. 3A). The story was accompanied by a
photograph of a Haitian policeman whipping people who were standing in line for
free food. Soon after, another report led, "Government security forces shot and
wounded a critic of military rule on Monday and beat and arrested several other
people who were applying for refuge in the United States, witnesses and
diplomats said today" (1994, August 3, p. 9A). Rohter began regularly to include
critical statements in his accounts, such as
"the military-dominated government has routinely ignored constitutional
guarantees, sending soldiers, police and paramilitary groups, for example, to
attack or kill political opponents, break up political meetings and search
homes" (1994, August 2, p. 3A).
Rohter also accomplished the delegitimation of the government through
his use of sources. As the junta defied U.S. attempts to restore Aristide to
power, diplomats and embassy spokesmen served as ready sources to denounce the
regime. For example, after the expulsion of the U.N. monitors, Rohter quoted
Stanley Schrager, the American Embassy spokesman, who called the act "a not
unanticipated display of empty bravado on the part of an illegitimate and
illegal regime" (1994, August 2, p. 3A). Rohter began a "Week in Review" piece
(1994, July 17, sec. 4, p. 2) by stating that the leaders were "Choosing once
again to thumb their noses at the United States and its allies;" he immediately
followed with a quote from U.N. envoy Dante Caputo who denounced the U.N.
expulsions as "a provocation" and a reaction from Clinton who said, "We've got
to bring an end to this." As the United States prepared for an invasion, U.S.
officials postured and threatened in Rohter's reporting. "'At this point, there
is really nothing left to talk about,' one said. 'Either they go on their own or
they are thrown out'" (1994, September 15, p. 8A).
The delegitimation of the government was also effected by Rohter's use
of language. In particular, Rohter challenged the government on how it was to be
named. On July 21, 1994, Rohter noted that "Last week, the Ministry of
Information issued a communique ordering journalists to stop referring to Mr.
Jonassaint and his Cabinet as a 'de facto' Government, insisting that it was a
'provisional and constitutional' Government." The order, Rohter noted, "has
mostly been ignored" (1994, July 21, p. 10A). The next week Rohter began his
report: "Haiti's de facto military government began today to organize elections"
(1994, July 27, p. 3A). And in the weeks after the government communique, Rohter
increased his use of the term "de facto government." Indeed, in just one report
Rohter referred to the "de facto president," the "puppet civilian government,"
the "compliant rump parliament" and the "de facto government" (1994, August 2,
Rohter anticipated the U.S. invasion that would remove the military
government. In a front-page story, Rohter began:
Haitians are asking foreigners here, especially
Americans, many variations on a single question, now that
the United Nations has authorized an American-led invasion
of this country and economic sanctions are at last fully in
place: What are you waiting for? When are you coming? Why
aren't you already here? (1994, August 10, p. 1A)
The departure of the junta, particularly the exile of Lieut. Gen.
Raoul Cedras, was depicted as a humiliation. Rohter said the departure was
"under circumstances that can only be described as humiliating." He went on to
describe the humiliation (1994, October 11, p. 1A). He first reported that U.S.
embassy spokesman Stanley Schrager said Cedras' departure represented "the end
of a sad chapter in the history of this nation." Then, Rohter said:
Struggling to maintain his dignity in his farewell
remarks, General Cedras made it clear that he did not share
that opinion. Ignoring the deafening and often obscene
chants of ordinary Haitians who had gathered beyond the
American cordon, shouting that he was a murderer and casting
aspersions on his ancestry, hygiene and sexual habits, he
defended his three years at the head of the Haitian armed
forces and warned of impending anarchy.
With such reporting, Rohter's work offered its first strategy -- the
delegitimation of the military government. As Aristide took office, a second
strategy emerged, one that developed and changed through the president's tenure.
THE APPROBATION AND DISAPPROBATION OF ARISTIDE
Rohter's reporting on Aristide had two distinct phases. In exile and
immediately upon his return, Aristide was depicted in heroic terms as the
wronged, legitimate ruler of Haiti, who would come back to save the devastated
nation. Yet soon after his return, as Aristide resisted U.S. economic and
security policies, Rohter's accounts began to question Aristide's judgment and
The initial stage of approbation was accomplished through Rohter's
portrayal of Aristide as a reasonable and conciliatory presence who would bring
peace to Haiti. One of Rohter's early reports focused on a radio message that
the exiled Aristide broadcast into Haiti. The lead emphasized that Aristide
called for "reconciliation, justice and democracy" in his homeland and that he
"forswore revenge against the soldiers who removed him from office" (1994, July
16, sec. 1, p. 4). Aristide was depicted in benign terms that even downplayed
his possible threats to capitalism. "He also sought to calm businessmen who view
him as a radical, saying that he respected the Haitian Constitution and the
right to make a profit."
Soon after, Rohter filed a report that lauded the progressive wing of
the Catholic Church, particularly the Lavalas movement, that helped bring
Aristide to power. The story painted the movement, seen by some U.S. officials
as dangerously radical, in uplifting terms:
The Rev. Jean-Bertrand Aristide was its most visible
symbol and charismatic leader. In his absence, the
progressive wing of Haiti's Roman Catholic Church, under
constant assault by the state and largely shunned by its own
church hierarchy, is fighting an uphill batttle to preach
the same gospel of social justice and change he espoused.
Known as Ti Legliz, or Little Church, the grass-roots
movement has remained one of the few viable centers of
resistance to the military-dominated Government that
overthrew Father Aristide as President nearly three years
ago (1994, July 24, sec. 1, p. 3).
The positive portrayals of Aristide reached their height with stories
on his triumphant return from exile. The day before Aristide's return, Rohter
filed this lead (1994, October 15, sec. 1, p. 6):
With the return of the Rev. Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the
country's exiled President, just a day away, Haiti was swept
by a wave of joyous anticipation and a sudden burst of
energy today as people across the country poured their
efforts into preparing a welcome for their leader.
The "Week in Review" essay painted Aristide's return in religious
dimensions (1994, October 16, sec. 4, p. 5):
As befits a man of the cloth whose long-suffering
followers call him "ti pwofet," or the "little prophet," his
return was celebrated with a fervor that was almost
religious in its intensity and as an occasion that offered
the promise of deliverance after a generation in the
The disapprobation of Aristide began soon after, as U.S. officials
made public their differences with Aristide. Of particular concern, Aristide
would not conform to U.S. policy on the retention of an army and the
privatization of industries. Though both proposals ran counter to the Lavalas
movement that Rohter had only recently proclaimed, his reporting took a negative
Indeed, the day after Aristide returned to power, Rohter published a
front-page story in the Times Sunday edition that suggested the president would
need to improve his relationship with the United States. "Even after the
American troops leave, Father Aristide, who in his earlier, radical days derided
the United States as 'the cold country to our north,' will have to contend with
the large number of American diplomats, economists and other experts who have
come here to help him build democracy" (1994, October 16, sec. 1, p. 1). The
"Week in Review" essay for the same day said Aristide "must now prove he can
speak the pragmatic language of his American patrons" (1994, October 16, sec. 4,
The retention of the Haitian army was a persistent theme and Rohter
consistently gave voice to U.S. officials who called for retaining the army --
even when those officials responded in elliptical fashion. "Asked recently why a
country that has no external enemies needs a standing army, Stanley Schrager, a
spokesman for the American Embassy here, said such a force was an essential part
of the 'iconography' of nationhood" (1994, November 22, p. 8A). Though Rohter
pointed out that Aristide's government feared that Americans really wanted an
American-trained and influenced "political counterweight" to the progressive
government, his reporting mostly was dominated by the official American
Throughout 1995, U.S. officials also struggled to get Aristide to
accept the privatization of industry, including the telephone and electric
utilities, banks and the main port. Aristide though feared foreign ownership.
Rohter's reporting embraced the necessity of privatization. "The issue
is crucial because millions of dollars in foreign assistance to Haiti are
contingent on the Government's agreeing to and carrying out a comprehensive
privatization program." He continued: "'These guys will take a major hit' if the
privatization program is not put into effect, one diplomat said." (1995, October
14, sec. 1, p. 2). Rohter began another story:
There are just 66,000 telephone lines in all of Haiti, and the
government-run telephone company says it does not have the money
to install more. The electric company, airport and harbor, also
Government-owned and in need of modernization, complain of the
same lack of funds.
Selling a share of those and other state enterprises to
private investors might appear to offer a promising way out for a
poor, nearly bankrupt country (1995, October 19, 9A).
The disapprobation could also be seen in Rohter's reporting of
Aristide's decision to quit the priesthood in November 1994. The act led to a
reevaluation by Rohter of Aristide's religious perspective. The Lavalas movement
that Rohter once depicted in uplifting terms was fit into a more negative
category, "espousal of a leftist liberation theology," "a blend of Marxist
analysis and Catholic doctrine." Rohter also pointed out that the Salesian order
expelled Aristide "and condemned him as a radical and undisciplined priest"
(1994, November 17, p. 1A). The "Week in Review" essay further pursued the
radical label. "Almost from the day he was ordained in 1982, Haiti's bishops
have regarded Father Aristide as a dangerous renegade and leftist radical, a
badge he has often worn proudly" (1994, November 20, sec. 4, p. 2).
As disagreements intensified between Aristide and U.S. officials, the
disapprobation in Rohter's reporting increased. In November 1995, Aristide's
cousin was murdered in an attack linked to paramilitary forces. In an
impassioned eulogy, Aristide called out for vengeance and also indirectly
criticized the United States for slowing Haiti's progress against such violence.
Rohter's reporting was equally impassioned. He called the eulogy a "tirade" and
his lead, played on page one, found dramatic consequences in Aristide's words.
With an emotional outburst at the funeral of a slain relative
a week ago, President Jean-Bertrand Aristide set off an outbreak
of street violence, provoked panic among Haiti's elite and
undermined his relations with the United States and other members
of the international coalition that restored him to power a year
ago (1995, November 19, sec. 1, p. 1).
Even after the election of his successor in February 1996, Rohter
questioned Aristide. In a story headlined, "In or Out of Presidency, Aristide Is
Still the Issue," Rohter said that foreign diplomats had been suggesting "only
half in jest" that Aristide disappear. "'How about a six-month, round-the-world
cruise?' one asked" (1996, February 9, p. 6A).
In these ways, Rohter's reporting offered a second strategy -- the
approbation and then disapprobation of Aristide. Related to these portrayals
were portrayals of his enemies, the paramilitary group FRAPH.
THE AVOIDANCE OF U.S.-FRAPH TIES
FRAPH -- the Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haiti -- played
a crucial role in Haitian affairs. The most feared of the heavily armed
paramilitary groups, sometimes called attaches because they attached themselves
to the military, FRAPH was created after the September 1991 coup to suppress
opposition to the junta. Its members were descendants -- often literally -- of
the Tontons Macoute, the death squads of the Duvalier dictatorship. In October
1994, Allan Nairn of The Nation broke the story that the leader of FRAPH,
Emmanuel (Toto) Constant, was on the CIA payroll, that U.S. officials were well
aware of the U.S.-FRAPH relationship and that U.S. funds were used to support
the group (Nairn, 1994a; 1994b; 1996).
In that context, Rohter's work on FRAPH can be seen as avoiding the
group's real significance. Perhaps a result of Rohter's ignorance of the group's
origins or the deliberate machinations of the State Department or both, the
reports misled and misinformed. Even after Nairn's reports appeared, Rohter did
not substantially probe the ties between FRAPH and the United States.
It took almost three months for Rohter's reporting to reflect the
terrorizing role that FRAPH played in Haitian affairs. His first mention of the
group appeared at the end of a story on September 29, 1994. A crowd of
pro-Aristide supporters had been fired upon by FRAPH members. A man was killed
(1994, September 29, p. 16A). The killing seemed to alert Rohter to FRAPH's
dangers. Two days later, he began a series of reports on the group. The reports
indeed chronicled the terror and violence. Yet the reports are most interesting
in retrospect as Rohter struggled to understand and explain U.S. reluctance to
deal with the obvious threat to Haitian society. The possibility that the United
States might have been involved with and supporting FRAPH was never raised.
In a page-one story on October 1, 1994, Rohter pointed out how FRAPH
was hindering Haiti's democratic movement:
After two days of bloodshed in which armed paramilitary
groups attacked demonstrators here, the United States finds
its mission to install democracy in Haiti jeopardized by its
reluctance to begin disarming the paramilitary gunmen known
as attaches. . . . But an American military spokesman today
defended the policy of inaction, saying it was up to
Haitians to police themselves (1994, October 1, p. 1A).
Rohter noted that "many Haitians say they are astonished that the American
forces have not yet moved against the attaches, many of whom belong to a group
called the Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haiti, or Fraph."
In the same article, Rohter detailed the reasons that U.S. forces
should move against FRAPH: the threat to the people; the alarm of other U.N.
nations; the increasing violence that might cause an early withdrawal of U.S.
troops; and the possible erosion of support among ordinary Haitians. Rohter used
an anonymous "Latin American diplomat" to sum up the argument: "'They have got
to disarm these people. They are already paying the political cost of being
here, so why not do the job right?'" (1994, October 1, p. 1A).
On October 4, 1994, Rohter did a brief, 400-word profile of FRAPH and
fingered Emmanuel (Toto) Constant as its leader, calling him "a former diplomat"
(1994, October 4, p. 10A). He said of FRAPH: "Its gunmen are believed to have
been involved in incidents of murder, rape, torture, arson and other crimes on
behalf of Haiti's military regime." In a separate story that same day, Rohter
reported that U.S. forces had "finally" moved against FRAPH. "By striking
decisively at the headquarters of the most belligerent and feared of those
groups, known as Fraph, the American forces that began landing here two weeks
ago scored a significant political victory and raised their stock among the
populace." But, Rohter noted, the members taken into custody did not include
Constant (1994, October 4, p. 10A).
However, the next day, Rohter reported, Constant appeared at a press
conference and said he would lay down his arms and no longer oppose the return
of Aristide. The press conference, Rohter said, "was initially announced by the
American Embassy, and American Embassy personnel provided the sound system,
podium and technical assistance for his first public appearance since the
American occupation began" (1994, October 5, p. 1A). At the end of the story, an
adviser to Aristide questions why Constant was not arrested. "Constant is the
leader of a terrorist organization responsible for the deaths of thousands of
people in this country, and one has to ask why the multinational force not only
permits him to walk around free but lets him make speeches in front of the
National Palace." But Rohter did not draw the connection between FRAPH and the
Five days later, in a Sunday "Week in Review" essay, Rohter reported
what other journalists had already revealed: "Constant, leader of the
paramilitary group Fraph, which was responsible for hundreds of
government-ordered murders and rapes, had been a paid informer for the C.I.A.
and was on its payroll when his group committed some of its worst crimes" (1994,
October 9, sec. 4, p. 5).
Even after FRAPH was tied to the United States, Rohter did not pursue
the connection. On October 19, Rohter reported that FRAPH gunmen were still
terrorizing the population and that Haitian officials were "quickly growing
alarmed at the unwillingness of American troops here to disarm and arrest
paramilitary gunmen." Officials were also calling for the arrest of Constant.
Rohter noted, however, that after the news conference "orchestrated by the
American Embassy," Constant had "promptly dropped out of sight" (1994, October
19, p. 3A).
It was not until January 1995 that Rohter began to probe in his
reporting the U.S. ties to FRAPH. For many Haitians, Rohter said, "the Americans
have turned out to be not saviors of the Haitian people, but rather allies of
the paramilitary groups that oppressed Haitians for a generation" (1995, January
17, p. 3A). Even in this report, Rohter gave voice to U.S. interpretations. The
"American cooperation with Fraph appears to have high-level blessing," he said,
Maj. Regina M. Largent, a spokeswoman for the United States
military in Port-au-Prince, said Special Forces units around the
country had been told by headquarters that Fraph was 'a
recognized political organization.' Major Largent likened the
differences between Fraph and President Aristide's Lavalas
movement to those between political parties in the United States.
In early 1995, Constant somehow managed to leave Haiti, obtain a
tourist visa to the United States and disappear. U.S. news media carried word of
Constant's actions in February 1995. In perhaps his most pointed avoidance of
the U.S.-FRAPH relationship, Rohter gave over his lead to U.S. officials'
protestations of innocence:
In what American officials describe as an embarrassing but
innocent bureaucratic blunder, the leader of Haiti's most
notorious paramilitary group was permitted to enter the United
States on a tourist visa late last year, and has now dropped out
of sight (1995, February 14, p. 8A).
With such accounts, Rohter's reporting effected a third strategy --
the avoidance of U.S.-FRAPH ties. A fourth and final strategy, the degradation
of Haiti, is examined in the next section.
THE DEGRADATION OF THE NATION
A more subtle strategy in Rohter's correspondence was the degradation
of Haitian life. In numerous reports, Rohter offered a portrait of Haiti as a
backward society whose religious, political and social customs rendered it
For example, in an early "Week in Review" piece, Rohter saw Haiti as
"a land without a country" (1994, August 14, sec. 4, p. 3). He detailed the
incredible poverty that plagues the populace and provided a litany of misery: a
per capita income of $370, the poorest in the Western hemisphere; a life
expectancy of 56 years; 70 percent of children malnourished; an illiteracy rate
of almost 70 percent. But the most difficult obstacles facing the construction
of a nation, according to Rohter's source, "are mot material -- they are
psychological and cultural." Haitians are "distrustful of government" and also
harbor a "suspicion of foreigners." He continued:
In addition, Haiti's political culture has long been
characterized by what Roger Gaillard, a leading historian,
describes as "an admiration of force, even among educated
Haitians." Poltical disputes are settled not by negotiation, but
through the exercise of power, often in crude and brutal fashion,
and respect for democractic procedures and obligations is
Rohter used another source to return to the same theme a month later.
"'Beyond Aristide, there is the more basic question of the governability of the
country,' said Suzy Castor, co-director of the Research Training Center for
Economic and Social Development" (1994, September 25, sec. 1, p. 16). Rohter
also quoted an unnamed American official on Haiti's "200 years of institutional
failure." Another report three weeks after said (1994, October 16, sec. 4, p.
Just this month, an American diplomat here pronounced himself
perplexed by the "Alice in Wonderland quality" of Haitian
politics, where words seem to mean only what their speakers want
them to mean. Nor is he the first to feel confused. Citing the
phrase coined by a former ambassador, diplomats here routinely
counsel new arrivals that in Haiti it is best to believe "nothing
you hear and only half of what you see."
Rohter's description of the June 1995 elections was headlined: "So Far at
Least, Inept Is the Kindest Word for Haitian Democracy." He stated, "It is not
easy to determine whether last week's irregularities were the product of
deliberate wrongdoing or simply an extraordinary display of incompetence" (1995,
July 2, sec. 4, p. 3).
Rohter also could not resist exploiting the use of voodoo by Haitians.
His writing suggested that Haitians were a backwards people of primitive
beliefs. Writing about preparations for All Souls' Day, he reported that the
mayor "found it necessary to urge residents of the capital to stop stealing
bones, which are used in voodoo rituals, from tombs in the cemetery" (1994,
November 2, p. 4A). He also reported that near one tomb, "a large crowd had
gathered to watch as voodoo practicioners tried to communicate with the dead and
the smell of clairin, or Haitian moonshine, permeated the air." On Christmas
1994, Rohter again returned to voodoo. Although he did attempt to explain how
Haitian society combines Catholicism and voodoo, he also pursued legends of
zombies and the use of voodoo as vengeance (1994, December 25, sec. 4, p. 1).
The article was accompanied by a photograph of animal sacrifice.
Rohter's often condescending view of Haitian life can also be
discerned in his choice of sources. American officials, embassy spokesmen and
Latin American diplomats dominate Rohter's work. Even when he is attempting to
discuss aspects of Haitian life, Rohter turns to academics in the United States,
such as Anthony Maingot, a Caribbean scholar at Florida International University
in Miami or Ian Martin, a Haiti expert at the Carnegie Endowment for Peace in
Washington. Haitian men and women appear only irregularly in Rohter's work. When
they do, the Haitians make token appearances for anonymous quotes, such as "a
toothless vendor" and "a middle-aged lawyer in a rumpled blue seersucker suit"
(1994, August 2, 3A). In these ways, Rohter's correspondence offered a strategy
designed to degrade and demean Haiti.
DISCUSSION: NEWS VALUES IN A NEW WORLD
With the end of the Cold War, U.S. news coverage of international
affairs finds itself at a crossroads. For a previous generation or more of
reporters and editors, the world could be organized and explained in relation to
the military, economic and cultural rivalry of two superpowers. News values --
the criteria by which the news media select, order, report and give meaning to
events -- were structured by this one dominant model, a model that has tumbled
with the stones from the Berlin Wall.
The questions facing The New York Times and other news organizations:
How then is international news to be defined in this new era? What news values
will guide the selection and shaping of events? Some see it as an expansive time
of promise. Galtung and Vincent (1992) see the opportunity for aggressive,
progressive news values that promote social justice. They see the chance for "a
new global and human journalism, liberated from visible and invisible
repression, capable of reflecting in its social communication the dialectic
between the global nature of our problems and our perception of them" (p. 24).
Traber (1993) too sees the opportunity for renewed news values. "One of the
biggest challenges of the new international information order," he said (p.
156), "is to develop new and different criteria for newsworthiness."
Others are more pessimistic. Writing even before the fall of the Wall,
Hallin saw the dissolution of the Cold War model in international news coverage.
In its stead, however, Hallin saw bleak possibilities. Most likely, he said, the
times would see "an extended period of public confusion and uncertainty about
world politics, and a passive, sometimes grudging consent to the decisions of
the foreign policy establishment" (p. 23). News images of the struggle against
communism would be replaced, Hallin feared, by dizzying, unstructured images of
a world in conflict, images of disorder, images ultimately of anarchy and chaos,
resulting in an overarching "image of 'Fortress America,' an island of
civilization in a sea of political barbarism" (p. 21).
While less dramatic, others too see no reason for hope in post-Cold
War news. Altschull (1995) notes the possibilities offered the news media in
"the age of globalization." Yet despite his hope that "the press will turn away
from its historic role as blind chronicler of conflict and search out a
different role, that of conflict resolver" (p. 442), his first law of journalism
remains: "In all press systems, the news media are agents of those who exercise
political and economic power" (p. 440).
Unsettled by the responsibility of covering the world without an
overarching structure, unprepared for the cauldron of political, religious, and
ethnic strife released in this new era, the press may willingly cede news values
to policymakers. In this perspective, U.S. coverage of international news more
than ever will be dictated by the actions and initiatives of U.S. foreign
The reporting of Larry Rohter from Haiti supports this cheerless view
of post-Cold War news values. In the amount of coverage, the nature of the
content, and the strategies offered, Rohter's reporting can be seen as working
in concert with U.S. foreign policy. Even as that policy shifted course --
rejecting the junta, warily restoring Aristide but insisting that he accept U.S.
policy -- so too did the reporting.
The influence of U.S. foreign policy can be seen quite readily in the
sheer amount of Rohter's Haitian coverage. As the Clinton administration made
Haiti one of its first major foreign policy campaigns, Rohter gave over most of
his work for almost two years to following Haiti. The Caribbean correspondent of
the Times in 20 months filed, for example, five stories from El Salvador, three
stories from Colombia, three stories from the Honduras, two stories from
Trinidad and none from the Dominican Republic. From Haiti, as stated, Rohter
filed 120 stories.
The strategies of Rohter's reporting also worked in concert with U.S.
policy. Rohter's reporting did not stray far from U.S. policy perspectives. As
the United States prepared for an invasion to remove Cedras, U.S. officials
postured mightily through Rohter's reporting. Rohter's denunciations of the
regime and his chronicling of the junta's represssion made a case for U.S.
intervention. At the same time, his depictions of Aristide as the rightful
leader whose return would bring peace and reconciliation also bolstered the U.S.
When Aristide and U.S. policy soon began to conflict, Rohter's
strategies shifted. The uplifting portrayals of Aristide and the Lavalas
movement faded to critical accounts of intransigent ideology and radical leftist
politics. As FRAPH continued to terrorize the population and U.S. forces refused
to move against them, Rohter's avoidance of the U.S.-FRAPH relationship shielded
from view the U.S. establishment of a conservative "counterweight" to Aristide's
progressive politics. And Rohter's depiction of Haiti as an "ungovernable" place
whose people were not "culturally or psychologically" equipped for the demands
of democracy captured the patronizing and paternalistic attitudes that have
driven U.S. imperialism in the Caribbean for centuries.
For those then who hope the changes wrought by the end of the Cold War
will yield a change in international news values, Times coverage from Haiti
offers little comfort. The opportunity for change surely exists. As Gwertzman's
memo to the foreign staff suggests, the press itself recognizes these times as
times of transition. But in the absence of a new model -- new strategies
designed to consciously resist the dictates of policy and power -- much of the
world and its people will remain foreign to U.S. news.
Altschull, J. H. (1995). Agents of Power 2nd ed. New York: Longman.
Berry, N. (1990). Foreign policy and the press: An analysis of The
New York Times' coverage of U.S. foreign policy. New York:
Burke, K. (1969). A grammar of motives. Berkeley: University of
Burke, K. (1973). The philosophy of literary form. Berkeley:
University of California Press.
Burke, K. (1984). Permanence and change 3rd ed. Berkeley:
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Chomsky, N. (1993, January-February). The "truth" about Haiti. Lies
of Our Times, pp. 5-8.
Farmer, P. (1994). The uses of Haiti. Monroe, Maine: Common Courage
Galtung, J. & Vincent R. (1992). Global glasnost: Toward a new world
information and communication order. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press.
Gaunt, P. (1990). Choosing the news. New York: Greenwood Press.
Geertz, C. (1973). The interpretation of cultures. New York: Basic
Gwertzman, B. (1993). Memo to the Times foreign staff. Media Studies
Hallin, D. (1987). Hegemony. The American news media from Vietnam to
El Salvador: A study of ideological change and its limits. In D. L.
Paletz (Ed.), Political communication research: Approaches,
studies, assessments (pp. 3-25). Norwood, NJ: Ablex.
Hess, J. (1994, January-February). Haiti and the French connection.
Lies of Our Times, pp. 21-22.
Hoge, J. (1993). The end of predictability. Media Studies Journal,
Landy, J. (1994, September). Born-again interventionists. The
Progressive, p. 23.
Nairn, A. (1994a, October 3). The eagle is landing: U.S. forces
occupy Haiti. The Nation, pp. 344-54.
Nairn, A. (1994b, October 24). Behind Haiti's paramilitaries: Our
man in FRAPH. The Nation, pp. 458-63.
Nairn, A. (1996, January 8-15). Haiti under the gun: How U.S. backed
paramilitaries rule through fear. The Nation, pp. 11-15.
Naureckas, J. (1994, November-December). The demonization of Jean-
Bertrand Aristide. Extra!, pp., 6-7.
North American Congress on Latin America (1995). Haiti: Dangerous
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Orenstein, C. (1993a, October). Haiti and the mainstream press. Lies
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Orenstein, C. (1993b, December). Haiti's curse. Lies of Our
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Regan, J. (1994, September). Haiti on the brink. The Progressive,
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Rohter, L. (1994, July 8). No choice but to withdraw offer,
Panamanian says. The New York Times, p. 6A.
Rohter, L. (1994, July 16). Aristide calls for reconciliation on
his own radio station. The New York Times, sec. 1, p. 4.
Rohter, L. (1994, July 17). Despite talk of invasion, Haiti's
terror continues. The New York Times, sec. 1, p. 6.
Rohter, L. (1994, July 17). U.S. weighs options; Haiti's latest
tactic sends monitors packing. The New York Times, sec. 4, p. 2.
Rohter, L. (1994, July 20). Number of Haitians fleeing by sea drops
off abruptly. The New York Times, p. 3A.
Rohter, L. (1994, July 21). Haiti holding up relief supplies as a
bargaining chip to gain recognition. The New York Times, p. 10A.
Rohter, L. (1994, July 24). Liberal wing of Haiti's Catholic
church resists military. The New York Times, sec. 1, p. 3.
Rohter, L. (1994, July 27). Haiti plans ballot likely to yield a
replacement for Aristide. The New York Times, p. 3A.
Rohter, L. (1994, August 2). Haitian military greets invasion vote
with defiance. The New York Times, p. 3A.
Rohter, L. (1994, August 3). Haiti attacks critics and restricts
civil rights. The New York Times, p. 9A.
Rohter, L. (1994, August 10). Invasion that never comes has many
Haitians skeptical. The New York Times, p. 1A.
Rohter, L. (1994, August 14). Haiti is a land without a country.
The New York Times, sec. 4, p. 3.
Rohter, L. (1994, September 15). In Port-au-Prince, the signs of
invasion are in the air. The New York Times, p. 8A.
Rohter, L. (1994, September 25). Mission in Haiti: Grim shadow of
economic reality. The New York Times, sec. 1, p. 16.
Rohter, L. (1994, September 29). Haiti parliament meets, but delays
an amnesty vote. The New York Times, p. 16A.
Rohter, L. (1994, October 1). Violence by paramilitary groups in Haiti
raises pressure on U.S. The New York Times, sec. 1, p. 1.
Rohter, L. (1994, October 4). Haiti's attaches: Deadly heirs to the
Tontons Macoute. The New York Times, p. 10A.
Rohter, L. (1994, October 4). Beyond the U.S. raid: Haiti is still
a minefield. The New York Times, p. 10A.
Rohter, L. (1994, October 5). Haiti's military power structure is
showing signs of falling apart. The New York Times, p. 1A.
Rohter, L. (1994, October 9). The iron fist in Haiti begins to lose
its grip. The New York Times, sec. 4, p. 5.
Rohter, L. (1994, October 11). Military leader in Haiti resigns,
vowing to leave. The New York Times, p. 1A.
Rohter, L. (1994, October 15). Joyous Haitians decorate the capital
for Aristide. The New York Times, sec. 1, p. 6.
Rohter, L. (1994, October 16). After the homecoming, the hard part.
The New York Times, sec. 1, p. 1.
Rohter, L. (1994, October 16). Aristide can speak, but can the U.S.
hear? The New York Times, sec. 4, p. 5.
Rohter, L. (1994, October 19). U.S. inaction on gunmen upsets
Haitians. The New York Times, p. 3A.
Rohter, L. (1994, November 2). High spirits in Haiti, even with many
to mourn. The New York Times, p. 4A.
Rohter, L. (1994, November 17). Aristide decides to quit as priest.
The New York Times, p. 1A.
Rohter, L. (1994, November 20). Call me "Mister," Aristide says.
The New York Times, sec. 4, p. 2.
Rohter, L. (1994, November 22). Some Aristide supporters seek
abolition of military. The New York Times, p. 8A.
Rohter, L. (1994, December 25). In a harsh land, faith at Christmas.
The New York Times, sec. 4, p. 1.
Rohter, L. (1995, January 17). Some Haitians no longer view G.I.'s
as saviors. The New York Times, p. 3A.
Rohter, L. (1995, February 14). Mystery of the missing Haitian bully.
The New York Times, p. 8A.
Rohter, L. (1995, July 2). So far at least, inept is the kindest word
for Haitian democracy. The New York Times, sec. 4, p. 3.
Rohter, L. (1995, October 14). Haiti's prime minister resigns after
disputes over economy. The New York Times, sec. 1, p. 2.
Rohter, L. (1995, October 19). Privatization starts feud in Haiti.
The New York Times, p. 9A.
Rohter, L. (1995, November 19). Haitian leaders's angry words unnerve
elite and worry allies. The New York Times, sec. 1, p. 1.
Rohter, L. (1996, February 9). In or out of presidency, Aristide is
still the issue. The New York Times, p. 6A.
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& K. Nordenstreng (Eds.), The global media debate (pp. 151-59).
Norwood, NJ: Ablex.
Vanden Heuvel, J. (1993). For the media, a brave (and scary) new
world. Media Studies Journal, 7(4):12-20.
 In Interpretation Theory, the philosopher Paul Ricoeur (1976)
captures the spirit of Burke's strategies. Ricoeur writes:
What is indeed to be understood -- and consequently
appropriated -- in a text? Not the intention of the author,
which is supposed to be hidden behind the text; not the
historical situation common to the author and his original
readers. . . . What has to be appropriated is the meaning of
the text itself, conceived in a dynamic way as the direction
of thought opened up by the text (p. 92).
 The brief account of recent U.S-Haiti relations has been derived from
Paul Farmer's (1994) excellent book, The Uses of Haiti and Haiti: Dangerous
Crossroads by the North American Congress of Latin America (1995).
 U.S. agencies watched the Aristide administration with alarm.
Aristide's progressive politics had numerous repercussions for U.S. business
interests. For example, Aristide proposed to raise the minimum daily wage to
near $3, almost twice the going wage. The U.S. Agency for International
Development, which had spent millions of U.S. tax dollars to promote U.S.
business investments in Haiti's low-wage economy, saw Aristide as a disaster.
 In May 1994, perhaps in response to the hunger srike of civil rights
activist Randall Robinson, Clinton changed his policy on returning refugees.
Still not permitted entry to the United States, they were placed in off-shore
 As the USS Harlan County attempted to dock in Port-au-Prince with the
participating U.S. forces, it was met by heavily armed gangs. Unwilling to
engage in a military battle, the Clinton administration backed off. Economic
sanctions were reimposed and a new stalemate began.
 The biography of Larry Rohter was supplied by The New York Times
foreign desk. Rother declined to be interviewed for this paper.