Rev. Jesse Jackson to Colin Powell       Feb 16 04


Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr.
February 16, 2004 - Boston, MA

Today, we issue this appeal to the U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell to honor its historic alliance with Haiti, and intervene to protect Haitian democracy, a nation imperiled and under seize by rightwing forces who threaten to overthrow the Aristide government.

Haiti is this hemisphere's first democracy; the Haitian people celebrated the 200th anniversary of the Haitian Revolution on January 1, 2004. It is the U.S.'s oldest ally in this hemisphere, assisting the U.S. during the American Revolution. Haiti's victory over Napoleon and stopped the French expansionism in North America, paving the way for the Louisiana Purchase. In short, Haiti has always been there when America needed its support.

But Haiti is also the poorest country in this hemisphere. And its struggles for economic development and a modern democracy have been thwarted. The rightwing in the U.S. never accepted Haiti's independence, nor did we properly invest in it. The U.S. has blocked humanitarian relief, blocking the bank disbursing hundreds of millions in approved loans to the Government of Haiti for safe drinking water, health care, and education.

Cutting off aid to Haiti has deepened the crisis, inciting a cycle of poverty, pain and reaction. Furthermore, there is evidence of U.S. support for an impending coup d'etat, consistent with historic U.S. attempts to undermine the Aristide government and thwart its democratic development.

If the U.S. can spend billions for "nation-building" and democracy in Iraq, so must it invest in democracy in Haiti, our oldest and strong ally in our own hemisphere? U.S. support for democracy must be consistent, yet the contrast in US policy toward Iraq and Haiti cannot be ignored.

Today I join with Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Randall Robinson and the Haitian Action Committee in appealing to the U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, and President Bush - to respect the rule of law, democracy, and support the constitutional government of Haiti.

In doing so, we appeal to the U.S. to abandon its policy of aiding and abetting attempts to overthrow the Aristide Government and, instead, use the resources, power and diplomacy of the United States to restore order in Haiti. Is the United States concerned about restoring the rule of law and democratic rule in Haiti, or is this another example of "regime change."

Opponents of the Aristide Government rejected calls for a democratic election, and now are unleashing a violent attempt to seize power they could not win through elections. Inaction by the U.S. State Department amounts to sanctioning the opposition forces. We therefore appeal to the Secretary of State to uphold our nation's democratic principles, and withdraw all political and financial support to those seeking to overthrow President Aristide.