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a756: Letter to the Editor: Cleveland Plain Dealer (fwd)

From: JD Lemieux <lxhaiti@yahoo.com>

Letters to the Editor

Don't cut off American aid to Haiti


The United States has im posed economic sanctions on
Haiti and cut off all aid, evidently because Sen.
Jesse Helms and Reps. Benjamin Gilman and Porter Goss
consider Haiti's last election to be fraudulent. The
International Coalition of Independent Observers,
however, found the May 2000 election to be fair.
Furthermore, the seven senators whose election Helms,
et al., objected to have resigned.

How can three men have the right to block desperately
needed humanitarian aid because they consider the
Haitian election insufficiently democratic? The United
States had no problem giving aid to Francois Duvalier,
Haiti's most undemocratic former dictator. Whatever
the reason, it isn't about democracy.

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The freeze on $500 million in aid includes an
Inter-America Development Bank loan of $146 million,
and because the loan was already approved, some crazy
banking law requires Haiti to pay the interest on a
loan they can't collect.

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere
and desperately needs the money for health care,
education and development. Only 40 percent of the
population has access to clean drinking water. About
300,000 Haitians are infected with HIV/AIDS, with
30,000 new cases each year - a situation that has
created 163,000 orphans. The doctor-patient ratio is
1.2 to 10,000.

Yet the United States, the wealthiest country in the
world, has asked the Organization of American States
to approve the economic sanctions. U.S. economic
sanctions against Iraq have already been responsible
for the death of more than a half- million Iraqi
children, with 5,000 more dying each month. Yet former
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright asserted: "We
think the price is worth it." We didn't pay it, nor
will we pay the price for Haiti's losses. If we are
ever to have true international security, it will be
because everyone's basic needs are met.

Wanda S. Ballentine

Cleveland Heights

 2002 The Plain Dealer. Used with permission.

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