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#3199: Washington Office on Haiti 1995 report on Haiti Rice Corp: Pina adds




From: kevin pina <cariborganics@hotmail.com>

Remember this in the context of the closed-door session of the Senate 
Foreign Relations Committee held on Saturday when Olivier Nadal, the Haitian 
partner of Hatian Rice Corporation, gave testimony on Saturday.


APRIL 10, 15:33 EST

Helms Orders Hold on Haiti Aid

By GEORGE GEDDA
Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP)  Sen. Jesse Helms has quietly ordered a
suspension of more than $30 million in U.S. assistance to
Haiti because Haiti confiscated a rice company almost wholly
owned by U.S. investors.

Haitian authorities said the confiscation of the Rice
Corporation of Haiti was the result of customs fraud, though
the company has denied any wrongdoing. The suspension of
aid went into effect in March without announcement.

The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has
the power to independently suspend aid to a foreign nation,
even if the money has already been appropriated by
Congress.

According to the U.S. Agency for International Development,
the suspension affects programs in agriculture and education
and in the development of democracy, the rule of law and
small businesses.

The largest of the affected programs were in agriculture ($11
million) and small business development ($6.5 million).
Programs for feeding needy Haitians and for hurricane relief
were not affected.

The administration said it opposes Helms' action. ``We don't
support congressional holds on funds we've requested,'' said
State Department spokesman James P. Rubin.

``Often we need leverage and funds to solve problems, and
we can't solve problems without any tools,'' he said.

Haitian customs officials accused the Rice Corporation of
falsifying a customs declaration. In mid-March  after Helms
suspended aid  the plant was allowed to reopen under
customs supervision while the company pays a $1.4 million
fine, according to Justice Minister Camille Leblanc. A ship that
had been confiscated was also released.

But Larry Theriot, a co-owner of the company, has denied
wrongdoing and said the plant remains closed by order of
Haitian customs officials. He said the fine being sought would
bankrupt the company.

On March 7, Helms asked U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright to deny U.S. visas to 10 Haitian nationals ``who had
abused their authority'' in the dispute, including Leblanc, Police
Chief Pierre Denize and Finance Minister Fred Joseph.

``Under the guise of a customs dispute, Haitian officials have
run the proprietors of the U.S.-owned Rice Corporation of
Haiti off their property at gunpoint'' and ``appear determined
to extort money from several U.S. businessmen and
confiscate their property,'' Helms said in a March 7 letter to
Albright.

Ira Kurzban, a Miami-based attorney for Haiti's government,
said that even after the fine is paid off, the plant may remain
closed pending resolution of an unrelated ownership dispute
between the Rice Corporation and American Rice Corporation
of Houston, Texas. That case is being argued in Haitian and
U.S. courts.

The dispute comes as the United States is increasingly
unhappy with Haiti's repeated delays in organizing
long-overdue parliamentary elections amid a spate of street
violence and politically motivated killings.

Albright said last week the administration is trying to enlist the
cooperation of former President Jean Bertrand Aristide in
easing the situation.

The administration is aware that Aristide wants to get back
into office, Albright told the Boston Globe. Given his support
among Haitians, Aristide ``ought to allow there to be
parliamentary elections, and then presidential elections... We
are trying to persuade him he is going about it in the wrong
way.''


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