Congresswoman WatersThugs, Killers and Drug Dealers Now Control Haiti
Because Our Government Ignored Warnings
Not to Support the Coup D'Etat
September 22, 2004
Please read the attached Associated Press article on the crisis in Haiti, "Disarmament deadline passes without progress in Haiti." This is one of many recent articles reporting on the complete breakdown of government authority in Haiti.
Last February, several members of the Congressional Black Caucus tried to warn the Bush Administration and the Department of State not to support or facilitate the impending coup d'etat in Haiti. We warned them that this coup d'etat was being organized and carried out by thugs, killers and drug dealers, and they were becoming involved in an unholy alliance with these criminals. We warned them that these thugs, killers and drug dealers could not be contained once they were allowed to overthrow the democratically-elected government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
Our warnings were ignored, and President Aristide was forced to leave Haiti by a coup d'etat on February 29, 2004, with the cooperation of the United States, France, Canada and the Haitian opposition's Group of 184.
Our warnings have come true. The thugs, killers and drug dealers who overthrew President Aristide now exert de facto control over Haiti. They have taken over several police stations, chased away the police officers and set up bases in several Haitian towns. Last July, Interim Prime Minister Gerard Latortue, who was hand-picked by the Bush Administration, set a deadline of September 15, 2004, for all armed groups in Haiti to disarm. The thugs, killers and drug dealers ignored this deadline, and the Haitian government did nothing when the deadline passed but announce that it would negotiate with them. Now that the deadline has come and gone, it has become clear that the U.S.-backed government of Interim Prime Minister Latortue is a joke.
Many of the thugs, killers and drug dealers who carried out the coup d'etat are former members of the Haitian Army, which was disbanded in 1995 and which is notorious for its history of human rights violations. The thugs are now demanding the reestablishment of the Haitian Army, and they even had the gall to claim that the Haitian government owes them more than 10 years of back pay.
Last month, the thugs, killers and drug dealers took over a police station in the coastal town of Petit-Goave, a key transit point for illegal drugs, and now control the town. This puts them in a position to significantly increase drug trafficking through Haiti and profit from this lucrative trade. Remissainthe Ravix, the leader of the thugs in Petit-Goave, fought alongside Guy Philippe during the coup d'etat. Guy Philippe is a former police chief who led several coup attempts against President Aristide between 2000 and 2003 and has a reputation for drug trafficking.
It is imperative that Members of Congress understand that the United States has made another mistake in Haiti. The Bush Administration's unholy alliance with the thugs, killers and drug dealers who carried out the coup d'etat has backfired, and the thugs are now threatening the Bush Administration's hand-picked interim government. The Bush Administration carried out another "regime change" without any plans to stabilize the country, disarm the thugs or win the peace.
I will be meeting with other interested Members of Congress in the coming weeks to discuss the current crisis in Haiti and the U.S. government's response. I urge all Members who are concerned about the future of Haiti to join me. The policies of the United States created this mess, and the United States has an obligation to develop and implement policies to clean it up.
Disarmament deadline passes without progress in Haiti
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) - A disarmament deadline passed without progress yesterday as Haiti's US-backed government faced a looming power struggle with rebels unwilling to surrender control since they ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in February.
Haitian police and government officials set the deadline in July for the rebels, former soldiers and Aristide supporters to disarm by Sept 15 without facing arrest.
The deadline, however, disintegrated with a loosely worded accord signed over the weekend that called for more dialogue. The rebels, which include former soldiers who overthrew Aristide the first time in a 1991 coup, have grown more vocal in their demands.
The former soldiers say Aristide illegally disbanded them and they are now owed backpay and jobs. The former soldiers say they will not disarm until their demands are met - a point of contention with Haiti's struggling police who are trying to maintain a fragile peace.
"We cannot hand over our arms, and I think the government understands that," said Remissainthe Ravix, a former colonel in Haitian army who is commanding the rebels, some of whom have taken over a police station in the southern city of Petit Goave.
There was no explanation from the Haitian government on the apparent backtrack. The deadline set in a letter dated July 8 was signed by interim prime minister Gerard Latortue.
"Sept 15 is not an end date," said Jean-Robert Saget, a spokesman for Latortue. "The prime minister has found an amicable solution with the ex-military, which is negotiations."
Bands of rebels and former soldiers launched a three-week rebellion in February that ended with the ouster of Aristide on Feb 29 and the arrival of a US-led peacekeeping force, which has since been replaced by a 3,000-member UN force led by Brazilian troops.
When the US-led force ended its mission in June, it collected about 200 weapons. UN troops have not confiscated any weapons, said Toussaint Kongo-Doudou, a UN spokesman.
UN Mission Chief Juan Gabriel Valdes said he supported the government's efforts to achieve disarmament through dialogue before resorting to force.
U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters - CONDEMNS VIOLENCE IN HAITI - Feb 11, 2004