U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters: to Colin Powell - 2 13 04

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U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters: Letter to Colin Powell

February 13, 2004

The Honorable Colin Powell
Secretary of State
Department of State
2201 C Street, NW, Room 7261
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretary Powell:

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 article in today's New York Times, which indicates that an anonymous senior State Department official said that the Bush Administration might support replacing President Aristide, only reinforces my concerns.

President Aristide has almost two years remaining on his term in office and has the support of the majority of the population of Haiti. The Lavalas party has widespread support, and its supporters have been turning out in huge numbers at rallies to support President Aristide. There is no conceivable justification for the State Department to support any effort to force the constitutionally-elected President of Haiti to leave office before his term expires.

I have been to Haiti two times recently. I was present for the Haitian people's bicentennial celebration of their independence on January 1, 2004, and I just returned on Tuesday after spending three days in Haiti assessing the situation. I have met with the United States Ambassador, embassy personnel, leaders of Convergence, Andre Apaid, other leaders of the opposition, and other individuals from civil society. I also met with President Aristide and members of his staff.

I am convinced that this effort to force President Aristide out of office by any means is a power-grab by the same forces that staged a coup d'etat and forced him out of office in 1991. The opposition that claims to be peaceful is not peaceful and they are responsible for the violence in Gonaives and other parts of Haiti. Should these actions by Andre Apaid and his Committee of 184, thugs and violent protestors receive support or encouragement from the United States, thereby increasing the risk of a coup d'etat, there may well be a bloodbath on the streets of Haiti.

I insist that the State Department discontinue its actions and join in a serious effort to bring about peace in Haiti. Those for whom you have responsibility, especially Ambassador Roger Noriega, the Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs, will be held responsible for the bloodshed and mayhem that will result should the State Department continue its support for, or acquiescence in, the actions of violent protesters and thugs in Haiti.

Please contact me as soon as possible to discuss the State Department's willingness to change its course.


Maxine Waters
Member of Congress


cc: Ambassador Roger Noriega, Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs
Ambassador Richard Boucher, Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs and Department Spokesman