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#3164: Representatives Gilman, Goss, Rangel and Conyers on Haiti (fwd)

From: Max Blanchet <MaxBlanchet@worldnet.att.net>

House International
Relations Committee

Benjamin A. Gilman, Chairman

DATE: April 5, 2000
FOR RELEASE: Immediate

Contact: Lester Munson, Communications Director (202)225-5021


WASHINGTON (April 5) -  U.S. Rep. Benjamin A. Gilman (20th-NY), Chairman of the House International Relations Committee, made the following statement today at a Full Committee hearing on "Haiti: Prospects for Free and Fair Elections":

This morning we will examine the prospects for free and fair elections 
in Haiti. Our witness is the Honorable Peter Romero, Acting Assistant
Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs.
 I have supported U.S. engagement in Haiti during my career in the House
of Representatives.  There is a substantial community of hard-working 
Haitian-Americans in my district. I will continue to support U.S.
assistance for the people of Haiti.

 Yesterday, my colleagues Mr. Goss, Mr. Rangel, Mr. Conyers, and Mr. 
Delahunt joined me in issuing the following statement:

 "As long-time supporters of Haiti and its people, we are outraged by 
the recent political assassinations in that country. Yesterday, the
director of Radio Haïti-Inter, Jean Léopold Dominique and Jean-Claude
Louissaint, the radio's janitor were murdered. On March 28th in
Petit-Goave, a local leader of the Patriotic Movement for National
Salvation (MPSN), Mr. Légitime Athis, and his wife were murdered in
their home.

 "Over the last month, the political situation in Haiti has deteriorated
sharply, threatening to derail considerable progress made by the
Provisional Electoral Council towards holding free and fair elections
and reestablishing a functioning legislature and local councils. In
addition to political assassinations, orchestrated, violent street riots 
have erupted. We strongly urge Haitian President Rene Preval to restore 
public order and unequivocally signal that these attacks on the
electoral process will not be tolerated by immediately launching
credible, thorough investigations of these crimes.

 "The Organization of American States has urged the Haitian government 
and the Provisional Electoral Council to agree to ‘an election date that
will allow the National Assembly to convene on the second Monday in
June.'  The Provisional Electoral Council is making the necessary
arrangements to meet this deadline. Time is of the essence. President
Preval must act now to work with the Provisional Electoral Council to
set a firm date for the election as the OAS has urged.

 "The Haitian people have come too far to see their hopes and dreams for
a peaceful, prosperous, and democratic country destroyed. While we
understand the difficulty of organizing elections, failure to hold them 
this month will seriously jeopardize the hard-won support for Haiti
presently held by the American people and the international community. 

 "The moment is fast approaching when the inter-American community must
invoke the 1990 "Santiago Commitment to Democracy and the Renewal of the Inter-American System" – Resolution 1080 – which provides for an
emergency meeting of the OAS foreign ministers to decide upon specific 
collective action when democracy is threatened. We pray that the Haitian 
government will take the immediate steps needed to avoid this outcome, 
which would signify an end to the support of the United States and the 
international community so crucial for Haiti's future."

 There are few moments in history where Haiti has stood so starkly at a
crossroads. The signs are as clear as they are distressing. Haiti's
leaders and people must not misunderstand the seriousness of our resolve 
and our purpose. We must act now to protect American interests in Haiti. 

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