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JOURNALIST SAYS U.S. INVASION OF HAITI WOULD BE MAJOR FOREIGN-POLICY BLUNDER

A journalist who has covered Caribbean issues the past 15 years says an invasion of Haiti would be a big mistake.

"This is the biggest foreign policy blunder in the 20th century," said Jorge Mena, who now lives in Lehi. Mena helped establish the Voice of America radio broadcasts in Haiti and Cuba nine years ago. He continues to write news copy for the Creole Service in Haiti and has many military, government and journalistic contacts.Mena said his sources told him combat in Haiti would be made very difficult for American soldiers.

"(The Haitian military) will take off their uniforms. Then the U.S. will have to decide who they're going to shoot," he said.

Ground forces would likely be met with resistance at first. "There's going to be a lot of snipers, a lot of urban guerrilla type attacks. It's going to be a disaster," Mena said.

Attacks from sea won't be any easier, Mena said. Many of Haiti's military installations are in populated areas, putting civilians at risk.

"You can't even have a surgical strike," Mena said.

Mena said President Clinton made a good speech, but it was more a public relations effort than attempt to speak to the issues.

The United States can't restore democracy in Haiti because it never existed there, said Mena, who was last in Haiti a year ago.

"Claiming that Haiti has democratic problems in 1994 is like discovering this year that the world is round," he said.

Mena agrees that the country has human rights problems. "It's had them, again, as long as it's lacked democracy," he said.

As for handling refugees, Mena says, the Haitian military under Jean-Bertrand Aristide should have been trained to patrol the coast before the only freely elected president was ousted in 1991.

"The United States should not be playing coast guard for the whole world," he said.