U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
For Immediate Release April 5, 2004
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell
On Radio M騁ropole with Rotchild Fran輟is Jr.
April 5, 2004
MR. FRANﾇOIS: Let’s talk about some issues because in Haiti, specifically — Mr. Powell, welcome to this interview. Thanks for according me this interview for Radio M騁ropole. And how do you judge the situation in Haiti one month after Aristide’s departure?
SECRETARY POWELL: I think we succeeded in preventing a great loss of life by President Aristide’s resignation and by the introduction of multinational forces. So after six weeks, the country is quieter, security is better but not perfect, things are more stable, air traffic has resumed. We are working on a peacekeeping force that will come in in a couple of months time, and we are starting now to flow humanitarian aid and more economic assistance into Haiti.
There are many difficult days ahead and a lot more work to be done, but I’m pleased with the progress that we have seen in the first six weeks. A new interim government is in place and they have already made decisions with respect to elections in 2005, to put in place someone who will fight corruption, a truth and reconciliation committee. A great deal has been accomplished in just six weeks, but there is a lot more that has to be done, and the United States is committed to help the Haitian people.
MR. FRANﾇOIS: Mr. Powell, security is still a concern for the Haitian people. And as you know, the national police forces have (inaudible). How the U.S. want to help regarding training and also equipment for the national police forces?
SECRETARY POWELL: We want to help. As you know, we contributed a great deal in 1994 and ’95, to the training and equipping of the Haitian National Police, and we were sorry to see that much of that training was not used and much of the equipment was not used properly. So we’re prepared to help again.
But at the time that President Aristide left, the Haitian National Police had pretty much been corrupted and destroyed. And so we do have a large rebuilding task ahead, and the United States will try to get international support, as well as United States support to professionalize and equip the Haitian National Police to become a force that the Haitian people can be proud of.
MR. FRANﾇOIS: When do you expect to do that?
SECRETARY POWELL: We have allocated over $55 million in aid this year, and we will be sending expert teams down over the next couple of weeks to begin working with different parts of the government to include the Haitian National Police, Coast Guard, other parts of the government to see how we can help, what the needs are, make a good assessment of the needs, and then we’ll start to apply resources to those needs.
MR. FRANﾇOIS: So what do you think about the integration of former ex-rebels in the police and also former military members?
SECRETARY POWELL: I think anybody who has been guilty of crimes against the Haitian people, anybody who is corrupt, anybody who has participated in violent activities against the Haitian people or continues to talk about violence as a way of solving political disputes, I don’t think such persons should have a future in the Haitian National Police or in the Haitian Government.
I hope the Haitian people will speak out against such individuals and let their government know that they want no more corruption, no more criminals, no more perpetrators of violence running their affairs.
MR. FRANﾇOIS: If there are some former members of the army, former ex-rebels, they are — and the integrating is clean, and do you think they will be part of the national police process?
SECRETARY POWELL: This is a decision for the Haitian Government to make. But I think if somebody served in the Haitian armed forces some years ago, and served honorably and did nothing to dishonor himself or Haiti, then certainly he should be looked at — vetted, as we say, make sure that he is honest, non-corrupt, committed to the future government of Haiti and committed to serve.
But this is a matter that the Haitian people have to work out through their government offices, not a decision for the United States to make. We will help the Haitian National Police in vetting these people to see what we know about them, information that we think a Haitian National Police authority should know before hiring any of these people.
MR. FRANﾇOIS: So in Haiti right now, some sector said, Mr. Powell, they should reinstate the army. So what do you think?
SECRETARY POWELL: Right now, we need the police to be rebuilt. We don’t need an army now, we need a police force, and I hope that that will be the first priority. It’s up to the Haitian people to decide what kind of institutions they need, but any discussion of an army I think should come much, much later, after there has been an election, after an elected government is in place.
Let’s focus on the police force right now. That’s what the Haitian people need: professional, confident, equipped police force.
MR. FRANﾇOIS: Do you have a message for the people still getting weapons in Haiti right now?
SECRETARY POWELL: This is the time for Haitians to put down weapons. Let the weapons only be in the hands of the police force and the multinational force and the peacekeepers. Weapons in the hands of gangs, weapons in the hands of criminals or drug traffickers just puts Haiti at greater risk of failure.
The international community will not come in and support Haitian development if gangs have guns, if criminals are running around with guns. I encourage all Haitians to speak out against this kind of violence and the carrying of weapons. I invite all Haitians and ask all Haitians to let the multinational force, let the peacekeepers know, let the Haitian National Police know where caches are hidden or where gangs are that have these guns, and give us the chance to try to disarm these people.
We need the intelligence. The Haitian National Police will need the intelligence as to the location of weapons so that the disarmament process can go forward. But the disarmament process will not work unless the Haitian people stand up and say, “Enough. We don’t want a past repeating itself. We don’t want what we had in the past in our future. We’re moving into a different kind of future, a future of no corruption, honesty, a future where we will have an elected government that represents the interest of the people, and gangs and drug lords and criminals have no place in that future.”
It’s up to the Haitian people. No amount of military peacekeeping forces can solve this problem unless the Haitian people want it solved. They have to solve it.
MR. FRANﾇOIS: Secretary Powell, and the Special UN Envoy in Haiti, Mr. —
SECRETARY POWELL: Duma.
MR. FRANﾇOIS: Mr. Duma, I’m sorry, yeah. Mr. Duma said at the UN — (laughter) — you know this, you know the issue.
Yeah. Secretary Powell, the UN Special Envoy in Haiti, Mr. Reginald Duma said the UN should stay and they should remain in Haiti like about for 20 years. And now I just want to know and the Haitians want to know if the U.S. intend to remain engaged in Haiti for such a period.
SECRETARY POWELL: I don’t know how long it will take. The United States has been engaged in Haiti for many years. Our histories have been entwined for a good part of the last century. We have spent close to $900 million in Haiti over the last seven or eight years.
So we’re prepared for the long run, and the UN is preparing itself for the long run. It’s going to take a long time to bring Haitian development along to create jobs, to rebuild the economy. Whether it’s 20 years, 10 years, I don’t know the answer to that question, but it is going to take a long time and the United States is committed for that long time.
MR. FRANﾇOIS: Secretary Powell, the situation of — in terms of the economy — is terrible right now in Haiti, and a lot of people in the private sector is the same, and we are facing Lavalas, Cyclone Lavalas, a cyclone in Haiti. So how the U.S. intend to do to help the Haitian people rebuild their economy after this situation is terrible?
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, one, we have, as I mentioned, $55 million of economic and other assistance coming. We are going to make further contributions with respect to HIV/AIDS. We’re going to work with the international financial institutions, and we’re going to work with the European Union and other international organizations to provide assistance to Haiti.
But the most important thing is to put in place a responsible government that is non-corrupt so that you can invite and encourage people to come invest in Haiti, build factories in Haiti, create jobs in Haiti. Haiti just doesn’t want aid, Haiti wants and needs trade, trade that will help create jobs, investment that will help create jobs.
MR. FRANﾇOIS: Do you think — so the U.S. is going to help in this field?
SECRETARY POWELL: Yes, the U.S. will help.
MR. FRANﾇOIS: And Secretary Powell and some private sector members, they said also how the U.S. Administration could push at the U.S. Congress to pass the bill and the HERO Act.
SECRETARY POWELL: We have the HERO Act up before our Congress now, and when I go back to Washington this week, I will be examining with my staff what additional support we can provide to the Congress to make a judgment on this Act. We would like to see the Act passed, and I will be examining it later this week with the Congress.
MR. FRANﾇOIS: And also, Prime Minister Latortue, and he said two weeks ago, they will create a fund to wake up revitalization of the private sector because this sector facing a lot of troubles right now after Aristide and Lavalas torment in February. So how are you going to help?
SECRETARY POWELL: This is supposed to be a challenge for the international community and we’ll work with the IMF, the World Bank and others, to see how we can help recapitalize the private sector because we know there was a great deal of thievery that took place at the end of February.
MR. FRANﾇOIS: Secretary Powell, and politically, this government facing problem with CARICOM. You know, CARICOM don’t want to recognize this government. So how do you think about that? And how the U.S. is going to help this government to obtain this recognition from CARICOM?
SECRETARY POWELL: I’ll be working with CARICOM. We値l all be working with CARICOM, the individual nations of CARICOM, to let them come to the realization, help them come to the realization that this government is now here. It’s here to stay. It’s legitimate. It represents the desires of the Haitian people. And I hope that over the next couple of months, CARICOM will change its position and welcome Haiti fully into the CARICOM councils.
MR. FRANﾇOIS: And my last question, Secretary Powell, do you have a message for the Haitian people right now in this new era?
SECRETARY POWELL: Have faith. Have faith that there are many people in the world, many governments in the world that want to help you, and the United States wants to help the Haitian people. President Bush is providing additional economic assistance. We have our troops here to help with security. All of this is for the purpose of providing security for the Haitian people so that we can begin, once again, to rebuild Haitian society, Haitian economy, and help every Haitian achieve his or her dreams.
We only want the best for the Haitian people, and that’s why we are here, and that’s why we are engaged.
MR. FRANﾇOIS: Thank you so much.
SECRETARY POWELL: You’re welcome, sir. Thank you.