On August 29-31, 2004, senior staff of the Senate Appropriations Committee went to Haiti on a fact-finding mission preparatory to the Senate’s consideration of the Foreign Operations appropriation bill. On September 22, 2004 the Senate unanimously approved an additional $90 million total for Haiti.
The bill awaits action by the House and signature by the president. Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont was the prime mover.
The Senate also unanimously passed a strong resolution calling for the U.N. peacekeepers to stabilize the political environment to allow free and inclusive elections next year, and warned that if elections fail, Haiti could well pass from being a failed to a criminal state.
The investigatory mission of the Appropriations subcommittee culled information about Haiti from a wide variety of sources and carefully verified all information. On August 5, 2004 the Haiti Democracy Project briefed the subcommittee staff. Our briefers:
- Arielle Jean-Baptiste, coordinator of our April 2004 assessment mission to Haiti
- Terry Thielen, lead organizer of our January 6, 2004 informational rally
- François Jean, our new associate; formerly with International Foundation for Election Systems and National Democratic Institute in Haiti
- James Morrell, executive director
In the preparation for their trip to Haiti, the Haiti Democracy Project provided the subcommittee with reports by the National Coalition for Haitian Rights in Haiti on the human-rights situation and other documentation.
In Haiti, the Senate investigators conferred with, among others, Arielle Jean-Baptiste and with project co-founder Lionel Delatour, vice-president of the Center for Free Enterprise and Democracy.
On September 15, 2004 a delegation from Haiti hosted by the Haiti Democracy Project and led by Delatour conferred with Appropriations subcommittee staff, meeting also with aides from Senators Bob Graham (D-Fla.) and Mike DeWine (R-Ohio).
The Haiti Democracy Project is pleased that its inputs, although one factor among many, lent additional substance to the case for an extra $90 million appropriation and strong Senate support for peaceful elections.