CONGRESSWOMAN WATERS DECLARES
Washington, D.C. -- On Capitol Hill today, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), declared that the Bush Administration's attempts to organize meetings yesterday between Gerard Latortue, the illegally appointed prime minister of Haiti, and Members of Congress were failures.
"There were two attempts to arrange meetings yesterday between Gerard Latortue, the illegitimate Prime Minister of Haiti, and Members of Congress," said Congresswoman Waters. "Both of these attempts by the Bush Administration and a few misguided Members of Congress were complete failures."
The first meeting was supposed to occur yesterday at 10:30 a.m. between Gerard Latortue and members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC). This meeting was boycotted by Congresswoman Waters and a majority of the members of the CBC. Only about six members of the 39-member CBC actually attended the meeting.
"Members of the CBC support the Caribbean Community (Caricom) and their refusal to recognize Gerard Latortue as a legitimate representative of Haiti," said Congresswoman Waters.
The second meeting was scheduled for 1:30 p.m. between Gerard Latortue and members of the House International Relations Committee. However, only six of the 49 members of this committee actually showed up for this meeting.
At a separate meeting yesterday between Secretary of State Colin Powell and CBC members, Congresswoman Waters and other CBC members expressed their views that Gerard Latortue is presiding over a violent and crumbling country, and he has done nothing to contain the violence or provide security to the Haitian people.
"Gerard Latortue embraced the thugs and killers who are terrorizing the Haitian people," explained Congresswoman Waters.
Gerard Latortue held a rally in the Haitian city of Gonaives, at which he declared Guy Philippe, Louis-Jodel Chamblain, and Jean Tatoune to be "freedom fighters." Guy Philippe is a known drug dealer who returned from exile, occupied Gonaives, spearheaded burnings and killings and threatened to kill President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Louis-Jodel Chamblain and Jean Tatoune are both former death squad leaders who were convicted in abstentia for the killing of thousands of Haitians in the 1994 Raboteau massacre.
"Gerard Latortue is presiding over widespread human rights violations since the removal of the elected government of President Aristide on February 29, 2004," said the Congresswoman.
There have been over 1,000 killings in Haiti since Gerard Latortue took office. Members of Lavalas, President Aristide's political party, have been found shot in the head with their hands tied behind their backs. There are reports of Lavalas members being placed in a container and drowned at sea. Delegations from Amnesty International, the National Lawyers Guild and Let Haiti Live have documented the repression and killing of Lavalas party members. Many of President Aristide's supporters are now in hiding in Haiti. Others have tried to flee Haiti as refugees and have been forcibly repatriated to the island, where they continue to fear for their lives.
"Gerard Latortue has done nothing to obtain the support and trust of the people of Haiti," said Congresswoman Waters. "He has not denounced the on-going killings of Lavalas party members, and he has not opposed the forced repatriation of refugees. He has not provided a credible road map for Haiti's future, and he does not deserve to be called prime minister."