U.S. envoy in Haiti likens attacks on civilians to terrorism

Ambassador Foley says those committing violence in Haiti will fail

By Eric Green, Washington File Staff Writer

Washington - James Foley, the U.S. ambassador to Haiti, says people in the Caribbean nation who are using violence against civilians for political purposes will not succeed in their aims.

In a July 3 speech at the U.S. Embassy in Haiti's capital of Port-au-Prince, Foley said the use of such violence against Haitian civilians represents "the very definition of terrorism."

Foley told an audience of Haitians and members of the international community that those committing the violence are "strong when it comes to destruction," but "they are incapable of building anything. In fact, their use of violence is a sign of weakness. They claim to represent many Haitians, but in fact they terrorize them and hold them hostage, preventing any possibility of an economic recovery that could benefit" the Haitian population.

The perpetrators of the violence are afraid of the elections that Haiti will hold later in 2005, and "commit terrorist acts in order to destroy the electoral process and retake power to serve their own interests," said Foley. "Above all, they seek to prevent the people from freely choosing their own leaders."

The U.S. envoy said those committing the violence will fail because "they need anonymity, and this they no longer enjoy." Foley added that "in continuing with their campaign of destruction and destabilization," those wreaking the violence are "excluding themselves politically."

Foley said the international community will not give in to terrorist pressure. The U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti, known as MINUSTAH, and the U.N. member countries that support MINUSTAH, will "create the climate necessary for holding free and independent elections" in Haiti, Foley predicted.

Legislative elections are scheduled for October in Haiti, followed by municipal and presidential elections in November and December. A Haitian transitional government took over power in the Caribbean nation following the resignation of former Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide in February 2004.

The United States is providing $15 million to support the Haitian elections -- part of a $44 million commitment from the international community to promote democracy and stability in the Caribbean nation. The United States provided $8.7 million in 2004 to support Haiti's electoral process.

Foley said that for Haiti to succeed, it needs the support of all elements of Haitian society. This requires a "surge of national unity against violence and in favor the rebuilding of the country," he said.

In addition, Foley said, the country needs to make "rapid and concrete progress in the areas of security, elections preparation, and in the struggle against misery in the most afflicted neighborhoods."

The ambassador urged Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council to "bestir itself and finally play effectively its role in preparing the elections." Foley also said Haiti's political parties should seek to establish unity on behalf of the "supreme interests of the nation - first by condemning, without exception, the use of violence [for] political ends, and then by working for the amalgamation of political parties and candidacies in order to give the people coherent and viable choices at the time of the elections."

The United States is linked "forever in Haiti" with the Haitian people, said Foley. "You can count on the American people to help you and to accompany you all along this difficult but unavoidable path" to democracy and economic progress.

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)