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a869: Cuomo, NY's candidate for governor, stands up for Haitiagainst US sanctions (fwd)
Release Date: February 20, 2002
Contact: Michelle Karshan, Foreign Press Liaison
National Palace, Haiti
Tel.: (011509) 228-2058
Andrew Cuomo, New York's candidate for governor, stands up for Haiti against
US sanctions during meeting with President Aristide at Haiti's National Palace
New York's Andrew Cuomo, who is currently running for governor of that state,
and his wife, Kerry Kennedy-Cuomo, visited Haiti today to lend their support
to the call to lift the US-led blockade against Haiti. Mr. Cuomo and his wife
met with President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and First Lady Mildred Aristide at
Haiti's National Palace.
Before members of the local and foreign press, President Aristide welcomed
the "future governor of New York" expressing his gratitude on behalf of the
Haitian people for the support both of them have given Haiti over the years,
calling their friendship one "rooted in values."
President Aristide called on his "dear countrymen" living in New York to
support Andrew Cuomo's candidacy for governor. Reminding the New York
Haitian community of their historic strength in numbers, President Aristide
recalled when during the coup years they stood 100,000 strong in Central
Park to demand the restoration of democracy in Haiti through the return of
President Aristide. President Aristide said he looks forward to half a
million Haitians voting for Mr. Cuomo. President Aristide also spoke warmly
of Mr. Cuomo's father, Mario Cuomo, the three-time governor of New York, who
stood in solidarity with the Haitian people and President Aristide during the
difficult coup years.
Andrew Cuomo, recalled his previous visit to Haiti when he was the US
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to address the devastation caused
by Hurricane Georges. Pledging to advocate on behalf of Haiti to urge the US
to release funding to Haiti, Mr. Cuomo said there are, "too many needs in
Haiti going unaddressed and we should not be holding up any funding."
The US says it will continue its financial sanctions against Haiti until a
conflict over allegations that Haiti's electoral council used the wrong
methodology to calculate votes in the senatorial race of May 2000 is
resolved. Despite several conciliatory concessions made by President
Aristide and his party, Fanmi Lavalas, including obtaining the resignation of
those senators in question, the opposition coalition has yet to agree to any
resolution of the crisis. As a result the United States Agency for
International Development (USAID), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB),
the European Union, and the International Monetary Fund have frozen all aid
and loans to Haiti.
Mr. Cuomo, who worked in the Al Gore presidential campaign, said, "I'm very
aware that no election is perfect. There can be irregularities, as we saw in
Florida." Cuomo pointed out that given the problems that the US had with its
own elections, it should not allow election irregularities to stand in the
way of helping those in need. Referring to the US-led sanctions against
Haiti, Mr. Cuomo stated, "I think we are putting politics and process above
the needs of the Haitian people."
In closing Mr. Cuomo said he would adopt the inspirational slogan "Tout moun
se moun" (Every human being is a human being) used by President Aristide
since he was a priest "in the parish of the poor" in the slums of
Kerry Kennedy-Cuomo, compared President Bush's financial blockade on Haiti,
which prevents much needed development money from getting into Haiti, with a
previous "Berlin wall around Haiti" erected by an earlier Bush administration
which she said was designed "so the people of Haiti could not escape" the
brutal repression of the three year coup d'etat (1991-1994). Joining in her
husband's pledge to fight the blockade against Haiti, Kennedy-Cuomo said, "I
am confident we are going to break down that wall."
Accompanied by First Lady Mildred Aristide and acclaimed author and
children's advocate, Jonathan Kozol, Mr. Cuomo and his wife visited a
Montessori school run by President Aristide's Lafanmi Selavi center and then
toured the maternity ward at Haiti's State University Hospital where they
spoke with patients and Mrs. Kennedy-Cuomo comforted premature infants. Mr.
Cuomo, visibly shaken, said he was overwhelmed by the conditions which have
been worsened by US sanctions against Haiti.
A former US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Andrew Cuomo is
an attorney and long time advocate for the homeless and the poor. Kerry
Kennedy-Cuomo, is the founder of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Human
Rights, created in honor of her father's work.
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