Congresswoman WatersOctober 5, 2004
Rep. Maxine Waters' letter requesting $500 million in disaster assistance for Haiti and the Caribbean
Dear Congressman Obey:
We are writing to request that you include at least $500 million in disaster assistance for the nations of the Caribbean in the legislation providing supplemental appropriations for hurricane relief, which is expected to come before the House of Representatives this week.
Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne have had devastating impacts on several Caribbean nations. In Grenada, Hurricane Ivan destroyed 90 percent of the homes and 78 percent of the electrical system, as well as numerous government buildings, hospitals, schools and churches. Approximately 60,000 of the island's 95,000 inhabitants were left homeless. In Jamaica, 18,000 people were displaced by Hurricane Ivan, which was the worst natural disaster to hit Jamaica in 50 years. The Bahamas incurred an estimated $125 million in damage as a result of Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne.
In Haiti, Hurricane Jeanne caused extensive flooding and left 300,000 people homeless. More than 1,500 Haitians were killed and another 900 are still missing. Thousands of people are in desperate need of food, clean water, emergency shelter and medical care. Relief efforts continue to be hampered by water and mud covering the main roads, and stagnant waters have given rise to a large mosquito population that could lead to a malaria epidemic.
The nations of the Caribbean are small island nations that do not have the capacity to respond to the widespread death and destruction caused by hurricanes of this magnitude. Immediate assistance from the United States is critical to enable these countries to meet the emergency needs of their people and begin to rebuild damaged homes and infrastructure.
We urge you to provide a supplemental appropriation of at least $500 million in disaster assistance for Haiti, Grenada, Jamaica, the Bahamas and other Caribbean countries affected by this year's hurricanes. We look forward to working with you to help our Caribbean neighbors rebuild their homes and their lives after these unprecedented storms.
Maxine Waters - Barbara Lee - Corrine Brown - John Conyers - Edolphus Towns Howard L. Berman - Donald Payne - Major R. Owens - Gregory Meeks
Disaster Assistance for Haiti and the Caribbean; Urges the
United Nations to Assist in the Distribution of Relief Supplies
"Thirteen years ago today, on September 30, 1991, President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the first democratically-elected President of Haiti, was overthrown in a coup d'etat, less than one year after his election. During the three years that followed, the Haitian military and the notorious death squad known as FRAPH (the Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haiti) led a reign of terror, carrying out numerous human rights violations against the people of Haiti.
"President Aristide was restored to power in October of 1994 by the Clinton Administration in response to advocacy led by Randall Robinson of TransAfrica, concerned Members of Congress and other Haitian activists, who were committed to democracy in Haiti. On February 29, 2004, history repeated itself, and President Aristide was ousted in another coup d'etat. This coup d'etat was led by the extremist Haitian opposition group known as the Group of 184, in cooperation with former members of the Haitian military and FRAPH, and supported by the United States, France and Canada.
"This unfortunate alliance of the United States, France and Canada with thugs, killers and drug dealers has created a crisis in Haiti and led to a new wave of gross violations of human rights. There have been killings, kidnapings and jailings of Lavalas party members, including Prime Minister Yvon Neptune, who was arrested by Haitian police on June 27, 2004. Some of the same thugs who were responsible for the coup d'etat, and who are now wearing new uniforms and carrying new weapons, have taken control of several cities and towns, including Gonaives and Petit-Goave.
"As if this crisis was not enough, the people and the economy of Haiti have suffered tremendously from Tropical Storm Jeanne and other storms, which pounded Haiti with torrential rain and caused extensive flooding. More than 1,000 Haitians have died and another 1,200 are still missing due to these devastating floods. At least 5,000 homes have been destroyed, and thousands of people are in desperate need of food, clean water and emergency shelter.
"The U.S.-installed government, led by Interim Prime Minister Gerard Latortue, has not been able to disarm the thugs, organize a government infrastructure, or stabilize Haiti. This government has not even been able to organize the distribution of disaster assistance provided by charitable organizations. The incompetence of the interim government has compounded the crisis in Haiti.
"Several United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations are coordinating emergency relief efforts for the people of Haiti. The World Food Program, the World Health Organization, CARE, Oxfam, World Vision, Catholic Relief Services and the International Federation of the Red Cross are all on the ground in Haiti providing emergency assistance. These charitable organizations are working tirelessly to distribute food, clean water, medical supplies, tents and blankets to Haitians who lost everything in the floods, but the need is so great, they cannot respond alone.
"Earlier this week, President Bush proposed $50 million in supplemental appropriations to cover disaster relief to Haiti, Grenada, Jamaica and other Caribbean nations that have been devastated by hurricanes and tropical storms. Such a small amount cannot begin to meet the tremendous needs of thousands of Haitians, let alone the needs of our other Caribbean neighbors.
"I call on the President and Congress to provide a supplemental appropriation of at least $500 million in disaster assistance for Haiti and the Caribbean, and I urge the United Nations to increase peacekeeping troops substantially and provide assistance with the organization of the distribution of relief supplies.
"Disaster assistance and security are clearly priorities for the people of Haiti. However, the future of the Haitian people depends on long-term development. I am anxious to work with the Bush Administration to save the lives of Haitians affected by the floods, and to plan for the future development of Haiti. I will continue working with whoever is in the White House to provide a brighter future for the people of Haiti."