Haiti has long been known for its major export of Haitian migrants in search of a better way of life. It is an exodus that goes back several decades, however with recent times the numbers have increased dramatically. In fact, that numbers of Haitians fleeing Haiti in the early 1990's far exceeds the numbers recorded in earlier years. Between 1972- 1979, some 8,000- 10,000 Haitians arrived in the United States. Compare this number with the 14,443 Haitians interdicted between September 30, 1991 - January 1, 1992. By early 1994, this number totaled over 41,000 (Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Haiti, 1994). Economic deprivation has always been the predominant influence for the migrating of Haitians, yet in the early 1990s, it was a repressive political system that was compelling the mass exodus of Haitians from their homeland. Haiti had become a place where military forces had consolidated their rule by ruthlessly suppressing the land's once diverse and civil society that had come about after the fall of the Duvalier dictatorship seven years earlier. On September 29, 1991, the military government, headed by Lt. General Prosper Avril, led a coup d' etat and overthrew Haiti's first freely elected president, Jean- Bertrand Aristide. The aim was to return Haiti to the repressed and fearful society of the Duvalier era. Under Avril's leadership, the human rights situation in Haiti was worse than it had ever been. The military executed, tortured and illegally arrested countless Haitians. There was no limit to what groups were targeted. Those who expressed support for ousted President Artistide were particularly harassed and met with violent reprisals by the military. The persistence of serious human rights violations that existed suggested an ongoing refusal of the military to relinquish power to an elected civilian government (Silencing A People, 1993). After the coup d' etat, thousands upon thousands of Haitians set forth on a long journey with hopes of seeking refuge in the United States, "the land of opportunity", via Florida.
From the very beginnings of the crisis in Haiti, we can see the various policies adapted by the three different presidents who held office in the U.S. Through the Reagan, Bush, and finally Clinton administrations, there is an evolution of policy from that of silence, to a gradual increase of concern, and ultimately an objective of restoring democracy in Haiti. However, the one thing that remained constant throughout each administration was the U.S. policy and practice of interdiction and repatriation of Haitian refugees. This policy was indeed successful in curtailing the influx of Haitians into the U.S. (Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Haiti, 1994).
The theory of normative liberalism can be seen as an explanation for the U.S. policy in dealing with the Haitian refugees. The theory assumes that democratic societies have certain democratic norms translate into...