We take exception to Ira Kurzban’s characterization of U.S. policy toward Haiti in his Dec. 22 column, Great powers attempt to undermine Aristide, and we reject his allegation that the United States maintains an ”embargo” against Haiti. There is no embargo. The U.S. government is Haiti’s largest donor. Since the restoration of elected government in October 1994, we have given Haiti more than $850 million, and last year provided $72 million in assistance to it.
U.S. aid focuses on improving the health, nutrition and education of the neediest, especially mothers and children. Haiti is one of 14 countries that will benefit from President Bush’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, a five-year, $15 billion initiative. We channel most of this aid through private groups to help ensure that it reaches the people.
We are Haiti’s No. 1 investor and trading partner. Thanks to the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act, most of Haiti’s exports enter here duty-free.
We remain committed to a multilateral, negotiated solution to Haiti’s crisis. Organization of American States Resolution 822, adopted by unanimous consent on Sept. 4, 2002, offers a solution to the current crisis. While Haiti was able, through Resolution 822, to resume normal relations with international financial institutions, it hasn’t shown the same political will to restore a climate of security, so that free and fair elections can take place.
Human-rights abuses continue unchecked. Political violence, uncurbed by the government, has claimed innocent victims, most recently among students and faculty of the State University in Port-au-Prince.
The United States supports the OAS Special Mission to Strengthen Democracy in Haiti. It has encouraged resolution of the current crisis while developing programs to promote human rights, justice, a professional police force and free and fair elections. We, along with the rest of the hemispheric community, continue to urge the government of Haiti to fulfill its commitments under Resolution 822.
The U.S. continues to work, bilaterally and multilaterally, toward the goal of a democratic, prosperous and stable Haiti so that Haitian people finally can fulfill the promise of freedom won 200 years ago. We congratulate the people of Haiti on the historic achievement of independence, won Jan. 1, 1804.