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a682: Powell and Haiti (fwd)
From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>
By EUN-KYUNG KIM
NASSAU, Bahamas, Feb 7 (AP) -- Secretary of State Colin Powell resisted
pressure from Caribbean leaders Thursday to free hundreds of millions of
dollars in aid to Haiti. He said Haiti has made too little progress.
"We are concerned about some of the actions of the government," Powell
said. "We do not believe enough has been done yet to move the political
process forward to assure ourselves that additional aid will be used in the
most effective way at this time."
Haiti was a key topic during a brief meeting between Powell and the
14-nation Caribbean Community, which just completed a regional summit in
Haiti has been mired in crisis since President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's
party won 80 percent of seats in parliamentary elections in May 2000 that
the opposition alleges were rigged. About $200 million in European aid and
loans from the Inter-American Development Bank have been frozen until some
results are revised.
The United States set aside $55 million in humanitarian aid for Haiti in
this year's budget, nearly all of it channeled through nongovernment
groups. The Bush administration is reluctant to see any money released
directly to the nation until it sees more political reform.
But Rudy Insanally, foreign affairs minister of Guyana and a spokesman
for the Caribbean Community, said recent actions by Aristide are in the
right direction and Haiti should be given money to build the democratic
pillars demanded by donors.
Insanally also said Caribbean leaders pressed Powell to get several
island nations off a money-laundering blacklist.
The United States believes that Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis,
and St. Vincent have failed to update their banking regulations to
standards that could curb money laundering.
Insanally said it would be unfair to follow a "pattern of naming and
shaming to tarnish the image of these countries."
Powell, a son of Jamaican immigrants, said he tried to assure Caribbean
leaders that their efforts to clamp down on drug trafficking and the cash
flow from criminals are crucial in the struggle against terrorism.
But Caribbean leaders told Powell that their economically struggling
nations -- where the tourism industry was already hit hard by last year's
recession -- can barely afford the costs of increased security since Sept.
The leaders also touched on the U.S. deportation of Caribbean nationals.
Regional governments believe that deportees from the United States are
contributing to rising crime in their countries.
Last year, the United States and Canada deported more than 3,000
Caribbean nationals, mostly to Jamaica, Guyana and the Dominican Republic.
Powell said he also discussed ways to stop narcotics trafficking, money
laundering and other sources of instability in the region, especially
poverty, lack of health care and insufficient education for children.
"All of these issues, if we deal with them and we deal with them
successfully, then we dry up the havens for narco-traffickers, we dry up
havens for terrorists," he said. "You put solid financial systems in these
countries, you make yourself less attractive to illegal terrorists."