U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee: to Colin Powell  -Feb 12 04

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U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee: Letter to Colin Powell

February 12, 2004

Dear Mr. Secretary:

Thank you for coming to the House International Resources Committee today. While we ran out of time before I could raise my questions in committee, I enjoyed speaking to you afterwards. As you know, conditions in Haiti are rapidly deteriorating. People are dying, and our own commitment to democracy is under siege. We have a moral and regional obligation to help one of our closest neighbors. Furthermore, Article 17 of the OAS Inter-American Democratic Charter requires that all OAS nations come to the aid of a democratic government under siege.

I must say, Mr. Secretary, that our failure to support the democratic process and help restore order looks like a covert effort to overthrow a government. There is a violent coup d'etat in the making, and it appears that the United States is aiding and abetting the attempt to violently topple the Aristide Government. With all due respect, this looks like "regime change."

This situation demands sustained U.S. engagement to promote democracy, yet disturbing reports indicate our actions - or inaction - may be making things worse. The opposition is well-funded and well-armed, even though President Aristide pleas for resources to better train police forces have fallen on deaf ears. Yet, State Department officials have implied that President Aristide's departure could be an option in solving the current crisis. How can we call for democracy in Iraq and not say very clearly that we support democratic elections as the only option in Haiti?Since I did not have the opportunity to raise the following questions in committee, I would appreciate it if you could provide a written reply so that I might have a better understanding of Administration policy toward Haiti:
  • 1. Does the State Department support the democratically-elected government of Haiti? What practical steps is our government taking to support the democratic process?
  • 2. Is our country supporting and sanctioning an overthrow of the Aristide Government by giving a wink and a nod to the opposition? There are also reports that we are covertly funding the opposition.
  • 3. Does the United States support the CARICOM proposal, and will we work through the OAS to broker a peaceful solution, not an overthrow of the Aristide Government?
  • 4. Is it true that Haitian opposition parties and leaders have received USAID funding?
  • 5. We understand the Haitian government made several requests over the last two years for equipment and training of Haiti's police force. Why were these requests never responded to?

Thank you for your attention,

Barbara Lee
Member of Congress

C. Stuart Chapman
Press Secretary
Office of Congresswoman Barbara Lee
1724 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
202-225-9817 (fax)

The Honorable Colin Powell
Secretary of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520