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U.S. Department of State

Department Seal Ambassador Luis Lauredo
Permanent Representative of the U.S. to the Organization of American States

Remarks to the OAS Permanent Council
Washington, DC, September 5, 2000

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The Situation in Haiti

My delegation applauds the efforts of the Secretary General, the Assistant Secretary General, and my fellow ambassadors from Argentina, Chile, and Venezuela, as well as Ambassador Ramdin, representative of the 14 nations of the CARICOM area which visited Haiti. Their engagement is consistent with the OAS' commitment to building democracy in Haiti and throughout the hemisphere.

The OAS has not been alone in working with Haiti. The United Nations, the European Union, the Caribbean Community, and representatives from private and religious groups have expended great effort in Haiti.

Seldom in recent history has a country received such a level of intensity of international support in its effort to establish democracy. In my own country a bipartisan effort -- which has included two Presidents, the U.S. Congress, and regular American citizens -- who through their voluntary work, personal engagement, and contribution of their hard earned tax dollars, have consistently been involved in trying to help the people of Haiti in their courageous struggle.

Instead of working collaboratively with the OAS mission and the international community, however, Haiti's leaders have chosen to proceed unilaterally down the wrong path.

Consistently these leaders have ignored the serious concerns raised by the international community regarding the May 21 elections.

The decision to install a Parliament based on a flawed methodology for determining Senate winners and to prepare for the November 26 presidential elections with a compromised Provisional Election Council, indicates an unwillingness to cooperate with the international community regarding the most serious challenges facing democracy in Haiti.

We believe that the OAS must remain engaged with Haiti to encourage positive change, in line with the Secretary General's commitment and statements. My government will remain a close partner in this effort. However, absent new concrete steps to end the impasse, the United States will not be able to conduct "business as usual" with Haiti. Instead, we will pursue a policy that distinguishes between helping the people of Haiti and assisting the Government of Haiti.

I am here as a representative of the American people, and my words reflect their deeply held conviction that organized and peaceful political expression with free and fair elections, is the fundamental basis of the freedom and dignity of every human being. On these principles we will not compromise.

Therefore, in the absence of meaningful change, the United States will not support the presidential and legislative elections of November 26, financially or through observation missions.

We also would find it necessary to channel nearly all U.S. Government assistance to the people of Haiti through private and non-governmental organizations.

We will look closely at loans and grants for Haiti from international financial institutions, carefully balancing the need for a strong political message with the desire not to punish the long-suffering Haitian population.

We have reached a crossroads. The elation experienced on May 21, when millions of Haitians demonstrated their trust in the ballot box and democratic elections, has turned sour as a result of the unwillingness of the Haitian authorities to address the serious irregularities and deficiencies arising in the elections' aftermath.

My fellow ambassadors, the Haitian people deserve better than this. They deserve a government willing to take the steps to ensure credibility in the electoral process and respect for rule of law. They deserve a system of government worthy of the name "democracy."

[end of document]

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