Senator Christopher J. Dodd
United States Senate
Committee on Foreign Relations
November 1, 2002
Dear Secretary Powell:
On October 31, 2002 the Washington Post ran a brief article highlighting official United States frustration with the government of President Aristide of Haiti with comments from the United States Ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS), Roger Noriega. According to that article Ambassador Noriega seems to hold the view that President Aristide has refused to negotiate with the opposition and has wasted opportunities for resolving the current political stalemate. Nothing could be further from the truth. As you must be aware, President Aristide accepted the OAS proposal for resolving the current political crisis, and has shown all appropriate willingness to deal with the opposition, despite the opposition’s rejection of the OAS proposal. In light of this, I am interested to know if Mr. Noriega’s comments were quoted accurately, and if so, if they reflect the views of the Administration on the situation in Haiti.
As you know, President Aristide has given every indication that he is moving forward in good faith to hold elections next year, and instead of undermining this process with undeserved criticism, the Administration should be encouraging members of the Haitian opposition to participate in the ongoing electoral process. I have no doubt that the Administration’s support for Haitian efforts to resolve Haiti’s economic and political difficulties would enhance the chances of success. In that regard, I was very pleased by the Administration’s recent support for the decision to unfreeze Inter-American Development Bank loans to Haiti.
Mr. Secretary, the people of Haiti continue to suffer greatly, and as we have seen this week in dramatic footage off the Florida coast, they are willing to risk their lives for a chance at a brighter future. We need to work together to do everything in our power to address the plight of the Haitian people. We must come to their aid, and we must keep in mind that it is the people of Haiti who must be our concern, and not the flaws of their political institutions.
I appreciate your continued support during this difficult time in Haiti, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Christopher J. Dodd
United States Senator