Haitian Boat People - The Bush Administration decided maybe this wasn't such a good idea.
Haitian Boat People – The Bush Administration decided maybe this wasn’t such a good idea.

. . . or click on the link here for Audio Player – CBS World News Roundup – May 25, 1992 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection.

On this Memorial Day in 1992, an abrupt change-of-policy tried to put a stop to the flood of Boat People escaping Haiti. The Island nation had seen a recent overthrow of an elected government by military coup, and it signaled a mass exodus of people, heading straight to U.S. shores.

But the Bush Administration decided that perhaps all these people weren’t really escaping political persecution but rather looking for better lives, and the reasons for seeking asylum were economic and not fear of reprisal. White House officials were pointing to a situation rapidly spiraling out of control, with dangerous overcrowding at the refugee center at Guantanamo Naval Base in Cuba.

So the order was issued for Coast Guard ships patrolling U.S. waters to escort back home any boats jammed with refugees trying to make it to Florida.

The reversal of policy created outrage among Human Rights advocates and Government officials, saying this move would endanger the lives of many boat people, who were fleeing persecution by the Military Junta. The Bush Administration officials said, Haitian Refugees who wished, could apply for asylum at the U.S. Embassy in Port-au Prince. Critics were vowing a court battle.

Meanwhile – the Middle East was heating up again with reports of a 15 year old Israeli girl stabbed by a Palestinian in Tel-Aviv and a Lebanese family of 5 reportedly killed in an Israeli airstrike.

In Bangkok, outrage over amnesty granted soldiers who, the previous week ordered the shooting of pro-democracy demonstrators. Tensions were mounting between protestors, the government and the military.

The situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina was not showing signs of easing, with some 2300 dead and over a million refugees as a result of the latest fighting. The U.S. was lobbying for sanctions against Serbia similar to those imposed on Iraq, with the European community considering a total trade embargo. The Military government in Serbia was trying to stir up ages-old ethnic hatreds in order to gain support of the Serbian people, who were showing signs of resistance by way of a fledgling peace movement, coupled with a collapse of the Serbian economy.

The 1992 Presidential Primary season was winding up, in a little over a week, as contenders scrambled for votes in five states, including California, which has the biggest delegate prize of all. President Bush had already locked-up the GOP nomination, so it was up to the Democrats to chose their nominee. So far, it was looking like Bill Clinton had the nomination in the bag. He was now concentrating, not so much on the primaries as the election in November; going after the so-called Reagan Democrats, particularly those in California, which Clinton needed if he was going to collect California’s 54 Electoral College delegates in the Fall. Everything looked promising, if it wasn’t for Ross Perot figuring into the mix. Still, it was a long way to November and anything could happen.

And that’s what this Memorial Day, May 25th looked and sounded like in 1995, as presented by The CBS World News Roundup.

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