Haiti’s Government Counsel Responds to Recent Statements By U.S. Ambassador Noriega

WASHINGTON, Oct. 31 /PRNewswire/ — In statements issued yesterday to the Inter-American Dialogue, Mr. Roger Noriega, the U.S. Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States (OAS) and former chief-of-staff to North Carolina U.S. Senator Jesse Helms, attacked the Government of Haiti and the President of the Republic of Haiti for their failure to comply with OAS Resolutions 806 and 822.

Mr. Ira Kurzban, General Counsel for the Government of Haiti in the United States issued a reply today calling Mr. Noriega’s comments “unfair, untrue, and an insult to the Haitian people.”  Mr. Kurzban stated “the Government of Haiti under the leadership of President Aristide has taken significant steps over the past several months to comply with Resolutions 806 and 822 and has worked closely with the OAS Mission to achieve those objectives.”  The government has begun to develop a comprehensive program in disarmament, public security and fighting international drug trafficking.  Mr. Noriega’s comments that “fifteen percent of the cocaine entering the United States transits through Haiti” is pure fabrication.  Mr. Kurzban stated that “Haitians do not produce, sell or use drugs and the numbers that Mr. Noreiga cites are not verifiable.”  His comments also “ignore the many steps that Haiti has taken in the last several months alone to combat drug trafficking.  Only last week, a national conference on fighting international drug trafficking occurred in Haiti at which time Haitians also discussed developing a comprehensive, national anti-drug trafficking plan — a fact totally ignored by Ambassador Noriega.”  Mr. Kurzban points out further that “Mr. Noriega’s statements ignore the U.S. lack of commitment to fighting drugs in Haiti.”  Although the U.S. signed an agreement with Haiti to provide funding to fight drugs nearly nine months ago, “not one dime” as been provided to Haiti as of today.

Recent similar false and misleading comments made by the U.S. Ambassador to Haiti resulted in his being called before the Foreign Ministry to explain such unwarranted comments about Haiti’s efforts to combat the scourge of drugs.

Similarly, Mr. Noriega’s comments regarding reparations and efforts to disarm are misleading.  The government of Haiti has already paid out more than $1,000,000 in reparations to the victims of the public violence.  In light of the daily struggle to survive for most Haitians, this amount is a considerable sum and demonstrates President Aristide’s commitment to abide by his statements on July 8, 2002, and the OAS resolutions.  Mr. Kurzban went on to state that, “Mr. Noriega has completely ignored the efforts by the police under very difficult circumstances to begin the process of disarmament in the country by setting up roadblocks and systematically disarming persons who would cause violence in society.”

Mr. Kurzban also noted that the most misleading and disingenuous aspects of Mr. Noriega’s statements are his refusal to acknowledge that the U.S. led embargo by the international financial institutions makes the government of Haiti’s ability to fight drugs, reduce crime and pay reparations all the more difficult.  “If the U.S. had not led a financial embargo against Haiti the past two years, we would not see Haitians on U.S. shores.  Rather, we would see the Government of Haiti in a much better position to ensure the health, safety and security of its citizens.”

Finally, Mr. Kurzban stresses that Mr. Noriega’s statements simply assist those who would undermine the government’s efforts to comply with Resolutions 806 and 822 by “emboldening those people who believe that a zero sum game may be played with the lives of the Haitian people.”  Mr. Kurzban noted that such statements “are unhelpful if the U.S. is truly interested in seeing a political solution in Haiti.  The Haitian government wants to see as many people as possible play a constructive role in the future of Haiti.  These statements undermine those efforts.”

This material is distributed by Downey McGrath Group, Inc., on behalf of the Government of Haiti.  Additional information is available at the Department of Justice, Washington, D.C.

Make Your Opinion Count – Click Here 


SOURCE  Ira Kurzban, General Counsel of the Government of Haiti 

CO:  Organization of American States; OAS; Downey McGrath Group, Inc.; Office      of the General Counsel of the Government of Haiti; U.S. Department of      Justice; Downey McGrath Group, Inc.

ST:  District of Columbia, Haiti