URGENT ACTION ALERT          Feb 13 2004

News HaitiAction.net


What you can do today

Zap the U.S. State Department

please distribute widely

Send an Unmistakable Message to the U.S. State Department


Phone, fax, e-mail, and send letters to Secretary of State Colin Powell today.
(For contact information and sample letter, see below.)


In the past week, armed gangs have roamed through major cities in Haiti, attacking police and civilians in an increasingly violent campaign to overthrow the democratically elected government of Jean Bertrand Aristide. Describing the so-called "rebel group" leading these assaults in Gonaives, Scott Wilson of the Washington Post (no friend of the Aristide government) wrote that "at its upper echelons the group appears led by former members of the Haitian military, dissolved in 1994 when Aristide returned to power, and the paramilitary group that opposed him." These same paramilitary forces were responsible for the 1991 coup and the bloody years following. Known as FRAPH during the coup period, these paramilitary forces killed thousands and committed countless acts of torture during that time. Now they have resurfaced.

The people of Haiti have seen enough of these thugs before. They have also tasted democracy, which explains why so many Haitians have taken to the streets to defend the Aristide government. In a demonstration in Port-au-Prince on February 7, hundreds of thousands rallied in support of the government, vowing to never give in to violence or intimidation. Marchers held up five fingers to signify their determination that President Aristide completes his five-year term.
See photos of these demonstrations

Rather than support the populace and denounce the brutal coup attempt, the United States government has instead seized the opportunity to continue its assault on President Aristide. On February 9, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher told reporters, "We recognize that reaching a political settlement will require some fairly thorough changes in the way Haiti is governedÖI think that could indeed involve changes in Aristide's position."

In a letter from U.S. Representative Barbara Lee to Secretary of State Colin Powell dated February 12, the Congresswoman charges:

"I must say, Mr. Secretary, that our failure to support the democratic process and help restore order looks like a covert effort to overthrow a government. There is a violent coup d'etat in the making, and it appears that the United States is aiding and abetting the attempt to violently topple the Aristide Government. With all due respect, this looks like 'regime change.'

"This situation demands sustained U.S. engagement to promote
democracy, yet disturbing reports indicate our actions - or inaction
- may be making things worse."

This morning U.S. Representative Maxine Waters also wrote to Colin Powell dated February 13, the Congresswoman writes:

"I am outraged at the State Department's apparent willingness to sabotage democracy and the rule of law in Haiti.

"It has been clear to me for some time that the State Department has been trying to undermine President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the constitutionally-elected president of Haiti, and support the opposition in its efforts to force President Aristide out of office."

The Haiti Action Committee condemns the blatant U.S. attempt to sabotage Haitiís constitutional government. The State Department has given the green light to opposition forces in Haiti who are trying to seize power through violent means -- that which they have never been able to win through elections. As the violence continues to mount in Haiti, the U.S. government bears a high degree of responsibility.

Send a clear message to the State Department: Denounce all attempts at a coup. Respect the rule of law. Respect democracy. Respect the constitutional government of Haiti.

Haiti Action Committee - http://www.HaitiAction.net


Please phone, fax, e-mail, and send letters to Secretary of State Colin Powell immediately.


Colin Powell, U.S. Secretary of State
Fax: 202.647.2283 or 202.647.5169
Phone: 202.647.5291 or 202.647.7098
Mail: U.S. Department of State

2201 C Street NW

Washington, DC 20520
E-mail: via http://contact-us.state.gov/ask_form_cat/ask_form_secretary.html

February 13, 2004

Secretary Powell,

On February 9, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher told reporters, ìWe recognize that reaching a political settlement will require some fairly thorough changes in the way Haiti is governedÖ I think that could indeed involve changes in Aristideís position.î This irresponsible statement represents a thinly veiled green light to opposition forces to press ahead with their increasingly violent attempts to overthrow the democratically elected government of President Jean Bertrand Aristide.

I urge you to formally and officially reject this underhanded approach in favor of a negotiated, peaceful solution to the crisis in Haiti, as called for by President Aristide, the Council of Haitian Bishops and CARICOM. I call on you to denounce all further coup attempts. The United States must respect the rule of international law, the constitutional government of Haiti and the will of the Haitian people.


(as time permits):

Haiti Desk Officers, U.S. State Department:

Joseph Tilghman
Fax: 202.647.2901
Phone: 202.647.5088
email: tilghmanjf@state.gov

Lawrence Connell
Fax: 202.647.2901
Phone: 202.647.6765
email: unknown

Please help distribute this urgent action call widely.

Fax early, and fax often!!

Thank you for your assistance in this urgent matter.

You may forward a copy of your messages to: info@haitiaction.org