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