Bookmark and Share
Click to go to the home page.
Click to send us your comments and suggestions.
Click to learn about the publishers of and our mission.
Click to search for any word or phrase on our Website.
Click to sign up for an e-Mail notification only whenever we publish something new.
Click to remove your e-Mail address from our list immediately and permanently.
Click to read our pledge to never give or sell your e-Mail address to anyone.
Click to read our policy on re-prints and permissions.
Click for the demographics of the audience and our rates.
Click to view the patrons list and learn now to become a patron and support
Click to see job postings or post a job.
Click for links to Websites we recommend.
Click to see every cartoon we have published.
Click to read any past issue.
Click to read any think piece we have published.
Click to read any guest commentary we have published.
Click to view any of the art forms we have published.

Representatives Maxine Waters (D-CA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Barbara Lee (D-CA), and John Conyers (D-MI) held a press conference in Washington, February 25, to announce they had delivered a letter on Haiti policy to Secretary of State Colin Powell. Later, 18 members of the Congressional Black Caucus visited the White House to press President Bush to assist Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s besieged government. CBC Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) said: “We made it very clear to the president, many may disagree with the way Mr. Aristide has run the country, but the fact is, we in this country have gone all around the world to protect democracies, and here we have one 650 miles away, a leader who was elected by a democratic process, and that we must stand up."

Secretary Powell and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice were also at the White House during the Caucus visit.

The following is the Waters, Schakowsky, Lee, Conyers letter to Secretary Powell:

Dear Secretary Powell:

Thank you for the time and attention you have given to Haiti over the past week.  We appreciate your recent statement that you will not accept any outcome that is inconsistent with the Constitution of Haiti or that, in any way, illegally attempts to remove President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the elected President of Haiti.  We also commend your efforts to work with CARICOM, the OAS and the governments of Canada and France to support the restoration of law and order in Haiti.

We urge you to provide assistance to the Haitian police to enable them to effectively prevent violence and enforce the rule of law.  This can be accomplished in accordance with OAS Resolution 822, which supports the professionalization of the Haitian police force with the support of the international community.  We believe this is the only way to stop the tragic violence that is occurring in Haiti.  The Haitian police force consists of only 5,000 officers for a country of 8 million people.  The police are poorly trained and poorly equipped.  Training and equipment for Haitian police officers is essential to enable them to disarm paramilitary groups and thugs, protect the people of Haiti and restore domestic tranquility.

We are deeply concerned about the potential impact of an international military force on Haiti's development.  Following the coup d'etat that overthrew President Aristide in 1991, a paramilitary death squad called Fraph (the Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haiti) massacred over 5,000 Haitian civilians.  Nevertheless, when U.S. troops intervened in 1994 to allow President Aristide's return, they treated Fraph as a legitimate opposition group instead of an armed death squad.

As you consider whether an international military force should be deployed in Haiti, it is essential that President Aristide be consulted beforehand and that such a force enter Haiti only upon President Aristide's invitation.  The purpose of any international force should be to restore law and order and assist the government of Haiti by disarming paramilitary groups and thugs.  Such a force must not be allowed to usurp the powers of the democratically-elected government of Haiti.

We are also concerned about the suitability of the State Department official who has been put in charge of leading negotiations over international efforts to restore law and order in Haiti.  Ambassador Roger Noriega, Senator Jesse Helms' former chief of staff, has a long history of being aligned with the anti-Aristide business owners in Haiti and undermining the democratically-elected governments of Haiti. Ambassador Noriega is working closely with the opposition in Haiti.  The Ambassador's statements on the current political crisis have been extremely one-sided, showing evidence of a clear bias in favor of the opposition and against President Aristide. There is no chance whatsoever that Ambassador Noriega will be seen as a fair, neutral mediator in any discussions involving the Haitian government and the Haitian opposition. 

We believe that it is appropriate for Ambassador Noriega to recuse himself from the Administration's negotiations regarding the political future of Haiti.  If he is unwilling to recuse himself, perhaps he should be removed from these negotiations and a more even-handed and credible diplomat appointed to handle these negotiations.

We urge you to ensure that any and all international efforts to stabilize Haiti are carried out in a manner that is consistent with the Haitian Constitution and does not usurp the right of the Haitian people to live under the government that they democratically elected.  Please keep us informed of the status of the continuing international negotiations to address the crisis in Haiti. 


Maxine Waters
Jan Schakowsky
Barbara Lee
John Conyers

cc: His Excellency Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations

His Excellency César Gaviria, the Secretary General of the OAS

The Honorable Michael Kergin, Ambassador of Canada

The Honorable Jean-David Levitte, Ambassador of France

The Ambassadors of CARICOM

The Members of the Congressional Black Caucus

Rev. Jesse Jackson



February 26 2004
Issue 79

is published every Thursday.

Printer Friendly Version