Washington, D.C. -- Today, at a press conference on
Capitol Hill, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) called for the
State Department to support the democratically-elected
government of Haiti and denounce Andre Apaid. She made
the following statement:

Yesterday, I returned from a trip to Haiti, where I
observed the escalation of political violence that
occurred over the weekend. This was my second trip to
Haiti so far this year. I am deeply concerned about the
growing violence organized by the so-called opposition
and what now appears to be gangs in the northern part
of the country being supported in their violent
activities by this so-called opposition.

Unfortunately, the opposition, led by Andre Apaid,
under the banner of the Group of 184, is not simply a
peaceful group trying to correct the problems of the
government. Andre Apaid is a Duvalier-supporter, who
allegedly holds an American passport and obtained
permanent resident status in Haiti through deceptive
means. Andre Apaid is ferociously adamant about forcing
Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the first democratically-
elected President in the history of Haiti, out of

Andre Apaid is the owner of fifteen factories in Haiti.
He has been accused of tax evasion, operating
sweatshops and being a President Aristide-hater. The
so-called peaceful protests led by Andre Apaid and his
Group of 184 are responsible for defying the rule of
law as it relates to parade routes, notification of
protest actions, and other laws that are normally
respected in any democratic society. The protests he
organizes have become increasingly violent. Police
officers are confronted, property is damaged, and roads
are blocked. It is my belief that Andre Apaid is
attempting to instigate a bloodbath in Haiti and then
blame the government for the resulting disaster in the
belief that the United States will aid the so-called
protestors against President Aristide and his

Andre Apaid refuses to negotiate despite the fact that
the State Department, the Organization of American
States and many other organizations are now supporting
a proposal put forth by CARICOM. Andre Apaid continues
to use inflammatory language, denounce President
Aristide, refuse to negotiate and demand that President
Aristide leave his democratically-elected presidency.
His so- called opposition group has accused President
Aristide of everything from corruption and drug
trafficking to support for paramilitary activity. When
asked for documentation, they have not been able to
produce anything more than rumors, innuendos and

President Aristide disbanded the military when he
returned to office and has a police force of only 5,000
for a country of 8 million people. The United States
aborted its efforts to support and train the new police
force and currently has a ban on selling guns and
equipment to Haiti. This policy effectively denies
Haitian law enforcement officers the essential
equipment that they so desperately need to maintain
order and enforce the rule of law.

President Aristide has given the United States special
authority to assist with drug interdiction efforts by
allowing the United States to interdict drugs in
Haitian waters. The government of Haiti does not have
the resources needed to wage a tough and consistent war
against drugs, and the President of Haiti is begging
the United States for assistance to eliminate drug

President Aristide is pursuing a progressive economic
agenda in Haiti. Under his leadership, the Haitian
government has made major investments in agriculture,
public transportation and infrastructure. On February
7, 2003, the government doubled the minimum wage from
36 to 70 gourdes per day, despite strong opposition
from the business community. There have also been a
number of reforms to prohibit trafficking in persons
and protect the estimated 400,000 children from rural
villages who work as domestic servants in households in
the cities.

President Aristide has also made health care and
education national priorities. More schools were built
in Haiti between 1994 and 2000 than between 1804 and
1994. The government expanded school lunch and school
bus programs and provides a 70% subsidy for schoolbooks
and uniforms. The maternity wards of eight public
hospitals have been renovated, and hundreds of Haitians
are being trained as physicians. Twenty new HIV testing
centers will open around the country during the next
two years. All of this is being accomplished despite a
continuing embargo by the IMF and the World Bank.

The so-called opposition is supported by many of the
same people who were content with the brutal dictators
of Haiti's past. These are the same people who enriched
themselves on the backs of the poor in Haiti for so
many years with the support of the United States
government. These people do not want a strong president
like Jean- Bertrand Aristide, who will force them to
pay their taxes and provide decent wages to their

Last Thursday, armed gangs took control of the Gonaives
police station during a five-hour gunfight and set the
mayor's house on fire. Since then, these gangs have set
fire to the police stations of Gonaives, St. Marc and
Trou du Nord. In St. Marc, they sealed off the city by
dragging tires, debris and logs across the main roads
and setting them on fire. The armed gangs have seized
nearly a dozen towns in the past week, and at least 40
people have been killed.

Unfortunately, these gangs appear to be obtaining
support from the so-called opposition in the hope that
their attacks will help to fuel other attacks in other
parts of the country and eventually a coup d'etat in
Port-au Prince. This is clearly an attempt at a power-
grab. Unfortunately, the same forces that fashion
themselves as the opposition also have control over the
broadcast media in Haiti. They have used the power of
the press to discredit President Aristide and
disseminate false information to the international
press about the situation in Haiti.

The nations of CARICOM are trying to assist the people
of Haiti to end the violence and resolve this crisis
peacefully. The CARICOM proposal includes an outright
rejection of a coup d'etat in any form and requires
that any change in Haiti must be done in accordance
with the Constitution of Haiti. CARICOM calls upon the
opposition in Haiti to ensure representation on the
Provisional Electoral Council so that the Council can
begin to prepare for the holding of elections. CARICOM
also calls upon the international community to provide
economic support to Haiti. Economic assistance,
including assistance from the United States, is
essential to alleviate the suffering of the people of
Haiti and build a foundation for political stability
and economic growth.

The State Department must denounce Andre Apaid and the
Group of 184 and must answer this question: How can the
State Department remain silent while Andre Apaid, who
allegedly holds an American passport, creates so much
dissension, disruption and violence in this small,
impoverished country?

The State Department must use its influence to help
stabilize Haiti, provide assistance for health,
education and infrastructure development, and
discourage Haitians from building boats and rafts to
get to American shores.

Finally, the international press must discontinue the
practice of repeating rumors and innuendos and begin to
spend quality time learning the truth and writing the
truth about what is really going on in Haiti.

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