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21322: Esser: Letter to Colin Powell, from Rev. John L. McCullough (fwd)

From: D. Esser torx@joimail.com

Reuters AlertNet

April14, 2004

Letter on Haiti Crisis to Colin Powell, from Rev. John L. McCullough

Church World Service (CWS) - USA
Website: http://www.churchworldservice.org
April 7, 2004

The Honorable Colin L. Powell Secretary of State U.S. Department of
State 2201 C Street, NW Washington DC 20590

Dear Secretary Powell:

Church World Service, the oldest and largest ecumenical relief and
development agency in the United States, has a long history of
accompaniment of the people and churches of Haiti. Today, in
coalition with others, we respond to Haiti’s humanitarian situation
and call on the Administration to seriously reflect upon its past,
current and future role in Haiti. In doing so we have serious
concerns about, first, the U.S. role in the sequence of events that
led to the foreign military intervention beginning February 29 and,
more generally, concerns about the Administration’s agenda for Haiti.
We are also concerned about what appears, in recent history, to be
the lack of democratic process as a guiding principle for resolving
conflicts in Haiti.

Last November, a twelve-member delegation of church representatives
from the Caribbean Conference of Churches (CCC), the World Council of
Churches (WCC), and Church World Service (CWS) visited Haiti on the
invitation of the Protestant Federation of Haiti (FPH). In the course
of the delegation’s visit, several meetings were held with a broad
cross-section of individuals and organizations in Port-au-Prince.
These meetings included human rights organizations, churches, media,
political parties and international organizations. During the visit
the delegation also witnessed the deep divisions in Haitian society
and the seeming inability to move beyond the impasse despite calls
from various sectors for further definitive actions toward new
elections, as originally envisaged by Organization of American States
(OAS) resolutions 806 and 822.

The delegation also heard many appeals for democracy, democratic
institutions and values even amidst the recognition by some parties
that weak institutions, as well as weak social and institutional
relationships, worked against building societal consensus. Others
lamented the absence of commitment that rose above narrow interests,
pointing to the fact that more was at stake in Haiti than the
resolution of an electoral impasse. Church World Service affirms the
churches and organizations of Haiti who have engaged with all levels
of the community in the role of peacemakers and mediators. Now more
than ever the Church and its supporting institutions are called upon
to be instruments of peace, to calm disrupted communities, and
unceasingly speak truth to power.

Echoing the words of the United Church of Canada in a letter sent to
your counterpart, the Honorable Bill Graham, Minister of Foreign
Affairs of Canada, we believe that “attempts to lay the blame for the
failure of Haitian democracy on one person serve to divert attention
from the role and responsibility of the Western powers […] that
pledged much in 1994 and delivered far too little financial and
technical assistance over the past decade […] The Western actors
acted as indignant bystanders when in fact they were and are
co-authors of this human tragedy.” CWS says: Haiti’s struggle for
national reconciliation and sustainable development needs long-term
accompaniment from the international community.

Secretary Powell, Church World Service urges that the United States

An independent investigation into the United States' role in
President Aristide's departure, as requested by CARICOM and members
of the U.S. House and Senate. The resolution of this matter will
serve to help to heal this divided nation, and restore confidence in
democratic process.

Regional multilateralism for Haiti’s right to self-determination.
Especially CARICOM’s involvement in a long-term accompaniment role;
and a significant increase of U.S. humanitarian and development aid
as part of a long-term strategy for Haiti.

Attending to the plight of Haitian residents in the United States,
refugees and asylum-seekers. We urge the Administration to:

Grant Deferred Enforced Departures (DED) to immediately stop
deportations of Haitians and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for
Haitians who are presently in the United States and under threat of

Provide protection to Haitian refugees who flee Haiti. We are
distressed with the Administration’s policy of returning all Haitian
refugees interdicted at sea. We request that Creole speakers be
present on all Coast Guard Cutters and, that there be credible fear
interviews for refugees picked up at sea.

Support passage of S. 2187 of the Haitian Refugee Immigration and
Fairness Improvement Act of 2004 (HRIFA).

Mr. Secretary, for too long, Haitians have labored under the weight
of being one of the poorest and most volatile countries in our
hemisphere. It is time for Haiti to take a serious turn towards
peace, stability, and prosperity for all of her citizens. We eagerly
await your response to these concerns.

Finally, we acknowledge the entreaty of one of our partners, “Pray
that the Lord will move among His people and help them … in this
lovely, but hurting, country.”


Rev. John L. McCullough Executive Director & CEO

[ Any views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not
of Reuters. ]