It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light

Mwen se echantiyon yon ras kap boujonnen men ki poko donnen

Si vous voulez vous faire des ennemis essayer de changer les choses

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Visit of the U.S. Secretary of State to Haiti: Recommendations by Stanley Lucas

The U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, will travel to Port-au-Prince Thursday for a very brief visit (only several hours). This visit offers an opportunity for Haiti to reinforce the cooperation between Haiti, the United States and its Haitian Diaspora. Mrs. Clinton knows Haiti well as a result of her personal and political experiences with the country. Indeed after her marriage to former President Bill Clinton, the couple honeymooned in Haiti thanks to a gift of a friend from Citibank. The young couple had the occasion, and the time, to discover – in anonymity – tap taps and the way of life in our country. At that time, they did not know that politics would bring back Haiti during the course of their careers. ------------------------------------

In 1994 after an official request by Jean-Bertrand Aristide for military intervention, the President Clinton made the decision to deploy U.S. military forces to the country to restore democratic order. The histories of each country will judge that intervention respectively and in the context of their own political framework. After this military intervention, Hillary Clinton visited Haiti several times as First Lady. -----------------------

Since his retirement, the former U.S. President has traveled to Haiti with his foundation, the William J. Clinton Foundation. The Foundation has stated an interest in supporting and aiding Haiti. Recently, he returned to Haiti with a business delegation and met with President Rene Preval and representatives of other sectors of Haitian society. Following the damage caused by significant storms during the summer of 2008, Preval put out an urgent call for an economic aid for Haiti in order to guarantee political stability. -------------------------------------------------------------------------

The Clintons – Hillary through the State Department and Bill through the Foundation – have mobilized to help Haiti. The former President and his wife played a key role in mobilizing the communitment of IADB and international community during a donor meeting held on April 14, 2009. Hillary announced this yesterday during her speech at the opening ceremony of the donor conference at the IADB where her husband was the keynote speaker. It is in this context that Secretary Clinton will make her visit to Haiti tomorrow. As a country, how should Haiti engage Mrs. Clinton? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Two issue areas are important for us, Haitians:----------------------------------

At the domestic level: -------------------------------------------------------------------
The Haitian government should redefinethe framework of its external cooperation with the United States to fit within its priorities. This is also the hope of President Barack Obama. The operation and performance of the programs of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) in Haiti are a duplication of Haitian government institutions and obstruct the reinforcement of state capacity. If there is something that the world financial crisis teaches us it is that reinforcement of state capacity is essential to guarantee economic development through the private sector under regulation. ------------------------------------------------------
American assistance priorities in Haiti should concentrate on: -------------
  1. Reinforcement of security Reinforcement of democratic institutions
  2. Economic development, particularly the creation of employment, foreign investment and the immediate increase in agricultural production Rapid financial technical assistance for: 1. filling in the budget deficit; and 2. preparation of an emergency plan for disaster relief resulting from hurricanes and earthquakes.
  3. Recuperate funds stolen by corrupt officials, specifically the Haitian General Accounting Office estimates that former President Aristide stole $350 million in state assets over nine years.
  4. The Secretary of State should also meet the various sectors of Haitian society to listen to their perception of American assistance to Haiti.
  5. An unambiguous signal of support for free and fair democratic elections on Sunday, April 19 is also critical. Haiti cannot survive another electoral crisis -- and historically the elections have been manipulated by the government. -----------------------------------------------

At the international level The US government should concentrate on the following issues: --------------------------------------------------------------------------

  1. TPS for the illegal Haitians in the United States through the passage of HR 522
  2. Creating an economic solidarity fund where the Haitians in the United States would contribute US$750 per month tax deductible through the end of the year. This could be managed through a partnership between the US and Haitian govenments with participation from Diaspora and the corporate community in Haiti (excluding the corrupt monopolies - Group de Bourdon).
  3. To study and avoid the negative impact of the reduction of financial transfers from Haitian Diaspora in the US to Haiti.
  4. The question of the deportees
  5. The creation of a human resources mechanism that allows Haitian Diaspora to contribute to economic and political development of Haiti
  6. The creation of a US Democracy and Development Support Group formed of political and economic personalities such as former President Clinton, former Senator Bob Graham, former Governor Jeb Bush, and Congressmen Benjamin Gilman and Walter Fauntroy
  7. The Haitian G10 should create a permanent work group formed of experts charged with following up on the speeches, promises and decisions made at the financial donor conference
  8. The US should work with the Haitian National Police to more aggressively combat drug trafficking and help freeze their bank accounts and assets in the US and in Haiti


U.S. Foreign Policy in the Americas - A Report of the Sol M. Linowitz Forum ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Inter-American Dialogue 2009 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The electoral triumph of Barack Obama was enthusiastically welcomed throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. The new president starts out with a deep reservoir of good will in the region, reflecting the appeal of both his persona and his political ideals. The choice of an African American leader committed to upholding universal values revealed the vitality and resilience of U.S. democracy, which many in Latin America had come to doubt. With their spirited reaction to Obama’s election, Latin Americans have made clear that they want a new and better relationship with the United States, but that they also want the United States to pursue a different approach to the region. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

No U.S. president since John F. Kennedy has had a greater opportunity to build constructive relations in the hemisphere and reenergize cooperation with the region’s countries. But the Obama administration faces powerful constraints. By necessity, U.S. priorities are directed elsewhere, and the nation’s resources are stretched thin. The country now confronts its worst economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s and, at the same time, is fighting two overseas wars. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Opportunities are also circumscribed by Latin America’s ambivalence about the role the United States should play in hemispheric affairs, notwithstanding the high regard for President Obama in the region. Latin American governments are today far more independent and assertive than ever before in their relations with Washington. Brazil has become an alternative pole of power in the hemisphere, with a steadily increasing regional and global profile. A few countries, led by Venezuela, have become adversaries of the United States. Most Latin American nations have developed a diversity of international ties, and many advocate new hemispheric arrangements that would diminish Washington’s influence in the region. There are increasing strains among the countries of Latin America, often stemming from their differing views about how the region should manage its relations with the United States. These are all elements of continuing, longer term trends in inter-American affairs that the United States cannot reverse—and nor should it want to. American interests will be best served by adjusting U.S. policy approaches to the growing independence, confidence, and competence of Latin American and Caribbean nations. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

In the past couple of years, polls in Latin America have reported that the upsurge in anti-American sentiment, which followed the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the early conduct of the war, has moderated. For several years, though, many Latin Americans viewed the United States largely through the lens of Iraq and Guantanamo, and resented what they perceived as Washington’s unilateralism, excessive reliance on military force, and disregard for international rules and institutions. U.S. credibility was badly damaged as well by several regrettable policy choices in the region—Washington’s inattention to Argentina’s impending economic collapse in 2001; its uncompromising and ineffective approaches to Cuba; the Bush administration’s quick praise for the 2002 coup against Hugo Chávez, which was reversed a day later; the rigidity of U.S. anti-drug policies in the region; and the decision in 2007 to construct a “wall” on the U.S.-Mexican border to curb illegal migration. The U.S. financial meltdown, which has put Latin America’s impressive social and economic progress over the past five years at risk, is now a fresh source of resentment. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Washington today has a new chance in the Americas. But Latin Americans will need to be convinced that the United States can be counted on as a dependable partner and responsible neighbor. The new administration has to change the tone and texture of U.S. diplomacy and, more importantly, the substance of U.S. policies and actions. This report discusses 10 critical challenges in hemispheric affairs and suggests how Washington should address each of them. Our proposals seek to align U.S. policies with the changed conditions of Latin America and put hemispheric relations on a new, more cooperative, and promising course. All of them, we believe, would advance the national interests and values of both the United States and the countries of the region. Aside from the first challenge—the global economic crisis—which is overwhelmingly the highest priority for all countries, we have not tried to order the issues and recommendations by their relative importance or likely success. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Every Latin American and Caribbean nation will have to cope with the consequences of the “made in the USA” financial crisis. With shrinking export markets, falling commodity prices, declining tourism and remittances, and sharply diminished capital flows, all the countries in the region will experience slower economic growth, higher unemployment, and rising poverty. Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is right in asserting that the best way for the United States to help Latin America is by swiftly reviving its own economy. That is what will do the most to mitigate the damage of the global financial crisis and speed the region’s economic recovery. But the United States must also avoid protectionist measures that would reduce Latin American access to U.S. markets and investments—and use its influence to increase the resources of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and multilateral banks to help ensure that Latin America and other developing regions can secure the capital they need for their own stimulus packages. Regular consultation with Latin American ministries of finance and central banks will be vital. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Washington’s 50-year-old policy of isolating and sanctioning Cuba has never accomplished much. Today, it is an anachronism that serves mainly to isolate the United States from the rest of the hemisphere. Although Cuba itself is no longer a central concern of Washington, recasting U.S. policy should be a high priority because it will open the way to cooperation with Latin America on many other issues. In fact, nothing will do more to convince the region’s governments that the Obama administration is committed to changing its approach to hemispheric affairs.
More than any other country in Latin America—perhaps in the world—the United States needs the continuing cooperation of Mexico on myriad bilateral, regional, and global issues. However, Mexico may emerge as the new administration’s most difficult foreign policy test in the Western Hemisphere if criminal violence continues to escalate and threaten the country’s security. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The prospect of a prolonged economic downturn in Mexico will compound the problem. The United States should substantially expand its security cooperation with the Mexican government, which stands ready to work with Washington on this front more than ever before. It may be time for the two governments to develop a joint border authority to better coordinate security activities. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Many other Latin American and Caribbean countries are seeking U.S. support to deal with the worsening criminal violence that is now a pervasive threat to security and the rule of law across the region. Because the problems have become so ominous and directly affect U.S. interests, Washington should join with Latin American and Caribbean governments to review the issues and policy choices, and to reinforce anti-crime strategies in the hemisphere. Initiatives in this area will require that the United States step up its assistance programs and extend them to more countries. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Washington should also do more to control the smuggling of weapons to Latin America and reconsider its policies regarding the deportation of convicted felons: Both are contributing to the violence in the region. A thorough rethinking and revision of U.S. anti-drug strategy, conducted jointly with key regional governments, would be particularly helpful. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

A new U.S. immigration policy is a critical priority for Mexico and more than a dozen other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Comprehensive immigration reform should be high on the new president’s agenda—including attention to developing workers' programs that meet U.S. labor market demands, giving legal status to some 12 million undocumented migrants living in the United States, and designing more effective incentives and enforcement mechanisms to curb illegal immigration. Quick action should be taken to suspend construction of the wall on the U.S.-Mexican border and better protect the rights of illegal migrants in the United States. These measures would be widely applauded across the region and would better align U.S. immigration law with the country’s interests and values. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

New trade initiatives will not be a priority for either the United States or most Latin American nations in the coming period. The Obama administration has, however, inherited an unfinished agenda on trade that should be completed. Specifically, it should take prompt action to gain congressional ratification of the already negotiated and signed free trade agreements with Colombia and Panama, restore trade preferences to Bolivia and consider new preferences for Paraguay, and seek agreements with Brazil on a common approach to global and regional trade negotiations. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Brazil’s influence in regional and global affairs has risen considerably in recent years. Neither Brazil nor the United States appears ready for a longer-term strategic partnership, but there are many critical international and regional matters on which the United States should be vigorously seeking Brazil’s cooperation. Areas of particular opportunity are climate change, energy development, and world trade negotiations—all of which could produce major payoffs for both countries. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The most brazen challenge to the United States comes from Venezuela’s president Hugo Chávez, who has insistently sought to curtail Washington’s influence in Latin America. The current low price of oil and Chávez’s diminished regional leverage has reduced the urgency for action by Washington. It may be possible to ease bilateral tensions by offering to reinstate ambassadors (withdrawn last September) and to renew formal diplomatic ties. But Washington should keep its expectations modest—and recognize that the best way to offset Venezuela’s activities in the hemisphere is to enhance U.S. cooperation with other Latin American countries. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

In recent years, the United States has not been an effective advocate for democracy. To play an enhanced political role in the region, the United States must rebuild its diminished credibility on democracy and human rights issues. On this score, President Obama’s election has itself made a difference. His early decisions to close the Guantanamo detention center and to end the use of torture in interrogations have also been helpful. It is essential that all U.S. international security policies respect civil and human rights, and that Washington not waver in its support for democratic institutions and practice in Latin America. The new administration should also work with the governments of Canada, the Caribbean, and Latin America to strengthen the role of the Organization of American States (OAS) in safeguarding democracy. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Washington should build on recent inter-American cooperation on Haiti—the most destitute and precarious nation in the Americas—to promote the establishment of a long-term, multilateral approach to the country’s needs. The coming year will be a period of extreme economic hardship for Haiti. The United States could be immediately helpful by suspending the deportation of undocumented Haitian migrants, expanding aid, and encouraging the multilateral banks to forgive Haiti’s debt obligations. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

These 10 challenges should be the new administration’s core agenda for the Americas. Working closely with Latin American and Caribbean nations and with Canada, the United States should seek to address all of them pragmatically and energetically, drawing on the progress made in the past few years where appropriate. This is a time to solve problems, reduce discord and friction, and take advantage of opportunities for joint action. Success in these efforts will reinvigorate U.S. relations in the hemisphere and set the stage for an approach to regional affairs that emphasizes consultation, cooperation, and multilateral initiative.