Media Center



December 17, 2003 - Washington, DC

• First my delegation’s thanks to [Bahamian] Ambassador Sears for report and his contributions.

• Mr. Chairman, The first article of the Inter-American Democratic Charter states that: “The peoples of the Americas have a right to democracy and their governments have an obligation to defend it.”

• On December 5 a peaceful student demonstration was particularly brutally suppressed, when pro-government thugs beat students in the streets and then laid siege to two university buildings where students had sought refuge. Thugs entered university premises and broke the legs of the university rector.

• In reaction to the events of December 5, students and other peaceful groups staged anti-government protests in Port-au-Prince and other cities and towns around Haiti on December 12. The government in complicity with armed gangs violently suppressed these nonviolent demonstrations, resulting in injuries and deaths.

• It is clear that the Government of Haiti has the obligation and must acquire the political will to put its house in order.

• Every public proclamation by the government of Haiti speaks of its meager resources and its strivings to do the right thing in spite of these hurdles. Since restoration of normal relations with the Inter-American Development Bank, the Government of Haiti has been approved for close to $400 million in highly concessional IDB loans.

• This is in addition to ongoing support from other international and bilateral donors, which has totaled more than $2.8 billion since the restoration of elected government in October 1994. This amply demonstrates the commitment of the international community to Haiti.

• Let me quote from an intervention by my prdecessor, Ambassador Roger Noriega, dated December 9, 2002. “The political violence of recent weeks, some of it committed with direct support of the government and its adherents which has produced the failure to reach closure on formation of the provisional electoral council (CEP), shows that the government has yet to fulfill its commitment this is despite the unstinting efforts of the OAS Special Mission and other parties to provide guidance and mediation to facilitate any government efforts. We call on the government of Haiti to act immediately to cease gang violence, to pay in full reparations due for damages from the violence of December 17, 2001, and to dramatically improve the security climate, particularly for those Haitians trying to exercise their fundamental civil rights.”

• On numerous occasions since the adoption of Resolution 822, our delegation has stated its view that the Government of Haiti, as a government, has the primary responsibility to act in restoring a climate of security so the democratic process envisioned in Resolution 822 could succeed.

• Our views in this regard have not changed. Haiti’s government argues that it has insufficient resources, but seems not to recognize the understandable concerns of the international community about lack of progress after it has committed so much assistance over the years.

• The fact is that the Government of Haiti is not in compliance with Resolution 822, despite the commitment it made in joining the unanimous consensus more than 15 months ago. Resolution 822 laid out a clear framework for actions that were needed, particularly in the field of security. It is obvious to all observers today that the Government of Haiti has not created the climate of security that is needed to allow democratic competition to occur.

• What the international community needs to see is the exertion of political will and strong leadership toward democratic security that fully respects the civil, political, and human rights of the Haitian people. Members of the international community are reluctant to commit substantial resources when they do not see a viable process leading to free and fair elections.

• Neither can we expect members of Haiti’s democratic opposition to participate in a provisional electoral council, as spelled out in Resolution 822, under current circumstances. Their responsibility to participate is clearly conditioned on the government demonstrating good faith, by undertaking concrete measures to allow the exercise of constitutional rights of free speech and assembly.

• At the same time, we expect the opposition to cooperate in forging a political solution. We recognize the opposition’s rights of political expression and freedom to dissent without fear of intimidation or repression. We expect that these rights will be exercised in pursuit of a peaceful solution to Haiti’s crisis, as outlined in OAS Resolution 822, which calls for a legal, constitutional, peaceful and electoral resolution. Only Haitians, and not any outside force, will resolve Haiti’s problems.

• Perhaps now Haiti, with the help of the OAS and its member states, can find a way to break out of this debilitating state of affairs. We meet on this occasion to consider the report of the Working Group formed to discuss the latest report on the Special Mission and decide on next steps.

• We believe that the OAS should retain a leading role in Haiti and my government supports the continued presence of the Special Mission.

• It is clear that the Mission’s accomplishments have been limited by the lack of political will on the Haitian government’s side, and that this has affected its credibility.

• The plan that Ambassador David Lee advanced as a framework for international support of the elections process is interesting and creative. Nevertheless, given Haiti’s political impasse and ongoing violence, this plan appears premature. In addition, my delegation did not hear any monetary pledges being made during the Working Group meeting that Ambassador Sears chaired.

• On this occasion my delegation is prepared to provide $1 million to ensure the continued operation of the Special Mission under current arrangements.

• We will also consider authorizing the use of additional funds for the Special Mission. Before we provide those funds, however, we would need to see a plan by the Special Mission more in keeping with budget realities, and that focuses on security and protection and promotion of representative democracy, as called for by Ambassador Sears in his report.

• Thank you, Mr. Chairman.