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a635: Committee to defend democracy in Haiti (fwd)
From: Robert Benodin <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Committee to defend democracy in Haiti
P.O. Box 1429
New York, New York 10276
Phone: (718) 834-1296 / Fax: (718) 834-8853
February 4, 2002
President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President:
We would like to congratulate you on your firm determination to wage war
against "international terrorism." We hope that you will stay the course
until citizens around the world feel freer to go about their daily lives.
But we are somewhat worried that while the United States government
concentrates on the major "evildoers" in far away places, it is giving the
impression that minor terrorist States closer to the American mainland are
free to do as they please. Our main concern is Haiti where the government
depends on mercenaries, mainly former "U.S. Special forces," to guard the
president who has unleashed a reign of terror to consolidate his power,
As reported by The Miami Herald (Feb. 1, 2002), "veterans of U.S. Special
Forces" are now serving as "bodygaurds" for Haiti's President Jean-Bertrand
Aristide. Approximately 60 members of those forces -"SEALs, Delta Force,
Army Rangers and Marine reconnaissance units" -cost poverty-stricken Haiti
$6 million to $10 million a year, providing security just for one person.
Although it is said that "Aristide's contract [is] with the California-based
Steele Foundation, a private executive protection firm," in Haiti most
people say "the Americans are still protecting Aristide." The majority of
Haitians don't grasp the distinction between Americans on "private contract"
and those dispatched by the U.S. government.
Thus, while "the Americans" protect Mr. Aristide, thugs tied to his regime
have hacked journalist Brignol Lindor to death, burned down the homes and
offices of opposition figure and are kidnapping citizens, even Americans,
who are held for ransom.
The lawlessness of the Port-au-Prince authorities prompted your own State
Department to issue a warning on December 28, 2001 to Americans about the
dangers of traveling to Haiti. Alarmed by the deteriorating situation in
Haiti, the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States passed a
resolution on January 15, 2002, urging the Haitian government to arrest and
bring to trial those who pillaged and burned the homes and offices of
opposition leaders and killed defenseless citizens on December17, 2001.
Mr. President, we also refer you to a front page article in The Wall Street
Journal entitled "Dead End" (January 29) which details the contortions of
the authorities in Port-au-Prince to deny justice to Jean Dominique, the
most prominent Haitian journalist assassinated allegedly by close aides of
Even Le Monde of Paris, France, a daily that was a strong defender of Mr.
Aristide, published a damaging piece about him on January 30, in which
influential French personalities, including Mrs. Danielle Mitterrand, have
denounced the former priest now turned a corrupt tyrant.
Mr. President, we don't think it is mere coincidence that The Econonist of
London weighed in with its own view of the situation under the title "Where
Racketeers Rule." Says The Economist: "Some of Haiti's rich families are
selling up and moving abroad. They complain of government corruption and a
dramatic rise in kidnappings by armed gangs, some of whom are thought to
have close links to Mr. Aristide's Lavalas Family party."
Meanwhile, The Economist adds that you and other Western leaders who have
timidly rebuked the Haitian regime for the long multidimensional crisis
buffeting Haiti, are blamed for "blocking $500 million in foreign aid" to
Haiti, an act President Aristide calls "economic terrorism."
Mr. President, in 1994 when the military putschists who had overthrown Mr.
Aristide were accused of lesser crimes than those committed under Mr.
Aristide, the then President of the United States used the Oval Office as a
bully pulpit to condemn the "thugs" who brought desolation to Haiti.
Today the new "thugs" who were restored to power by American military might
are causing havoc only 800 miles from the shores of southern Florida. This
situation could negatively affect politics in the "Sunshine States,"
threatened by an impending wave of new refuges.
On the other hand, the Hatian people are confused about the apparent support
of America for Mr. Aristide, an increasingly isolated despot who has secured
his personal safety through millions of dollars disbursed to Americans.
We believe that your administraion must make clear that the government of
the United States doesn't condone -yea, it condemns- the practices of the
Lavalas Family regime. Moreover, Washington should find ways to collaborate
with democracy- and freedom-loving Haitians to bring about lasting changes
in that sad land before it turns into a major headache.
Felix Augustin, Member of the Executive Committee, Secretary
Dejean Belizaire, Member of the Executive Committee, former Senator and
President of the National Assembly
Marcel Bonny, Member of the Executive Committee, former minister of planning
and External Cooperation
Raymond A. Joseph, Member of the Executive Committee, former Charge
d'Affaires in Washington and Representative to the OAS, Spokesperson
Robert Rodney, M.D., Member of the Executive Committee