For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
February 28, 2004
Statement on Haiti
Statement by the Press Secretary
We condemn the violence in Haiti. Many are engaged in it. All should end their senseless looting and killing.
In the last few days, gangs armed and directed by President Aristide have looted and attacked people and property in Port-au Prince. These attacks have targeted innocent civilians, humanitarian programs, and international organizations trying to help the Haitian people. Mr. Aristide must instruct his supporters to end this violence. Rebel forces approaching Port-au-Prince must cease their acts of violence to allow for a political solution.
This long-simmering crisis is largely of Mr. Aristide's making. His failure to adhere to democratic principles has contributed to the deep polarization and violent unrest that we are witnessing in Haiti today. His own actions have called into question his fitness to continue to govern Haiti. We urge him to examine his position carefully, to accept responsibility, and to act in the best interests of the people of Haiti.
The United States has worked actively with the United Nations, the Organization of American States, and the Caribbean Community, as well as the governments of Canada and France, to promote a political solution to this crisis. The United States will continue working with the international community to provide humanitarian assistance to the Haitian people. Many nations are poised to help reestablish order and stability in Haiti but they will not act until a viable political solution is in place. The United States is preparing to support a multinational interim security force in the context of a sustainable political solution in Haiti.
The Department of Homeland Security is interdicting Haitian migrants at sea and repatriating them to Haiti. As necessary, the U.S. military is prepared to support that effort and to assist in the evacuation of U.S. citizens.