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[Congressional Record: March 3, 2004 (House)]
[Page H809-H814]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access []


  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under the Speaker's announced policy of 
January 7, 2003, the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Meek) is recognized 
for 60 minutes as the designee of the minority leader.
  Mr. MEEK of Florida. Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to address the 
House and the American people this evening.
  Last night, Mr. Speaker, we were on the floor talking about the 
recent events in Haiti that has also involved not only our military but 
our international community, not only as it relates to humanitarian 
efforts but to the safety of the Haitian people. I just left the 
Committee on International Relations, the Subcommittee on the Western 
Hemisphere where we had witnesses, the Assistant Secretary of the 
Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs from the U.S. State Department, 
Mr. Roger Noriega; and also the Honorable Arthur Dewey, Assistant 
Secretary of Population, Refugee and Migration of the United States 
State Department; also other representatives from the State Department. 
Mr. Speaker, it was quite disturbing hearing some of the testimony that 
was given to us there on that committee. I am thankful that the 
chairman, the gentleman from North Carolina, allowed other Members that 
were concerned about not only the plight of Haiti but also the U.S. 
involvement in Haiti. I think the events that took place last Saturday 
evening and early Sunday morning has a lot to do with how we move 
forward from this point on. Many of us in this Congress feel very 
strongly about the U.S. involvement in Haiti from this point on, on how 
safe will it be in Haiti? How safe will it be for the Haitian people? 
How many months will our U.S. Coast Guard be visually off the coast of 
Haiti? What kind of commitment will the United States make to Haiti? 
And also what kind of commitment will the international community put 
forth as it relates to Haiti?
  First of all, I would have to go back. We spoke last night about Mr. 
Philippe, who has announced himself as the leader of Haiti, the head of 
the rebel force, using Secretary Noriega's description of him as a 
thug, that has now taken control of Haiti. He was in Port-au-Prince 
yesterday, he had a meeting, he talked about him being in charge of 
Haiti. He said he really looks up to the United States, that he reveres 
our President, and rightfully so, he should revere our President, 
because if it was not for a visit by officials from the State 
Department that will go unnamed at the home of President Aristide and 
giving him an ultimatum to either leave or be killed, that simple, that 
he had to make the decision right then and there. Reports say that he 
made that decision. That decision empowered Mr. Philippe, a known 
individual not only to Haitians but also a known individual that has 
carried out terror in Haiti in the past, a 36-year-old young man that 
is now on the streets of Haiti who has announced that he is going to 
arrest the prime minister of Haiti. I say that as a backdrop of talking 
about troop safety.
  I think it is important to note in the early 1990s when U.S. troops 
went into Haiti to not only kick General Cedras out who took Haiti by a 
coup but to also provide a level of safety to try to build onto 
democracy, that not one soldier lost his or her life. No one even 
choked on popcorn. It was that smooth of an operation. I commend 
Senator Nunn at that time, I commend Mr. Powell at that time, now 
Secretary Powell, and also the leadership of William Jefferson Clinton.
  But now we have a situation that is in question. Some people may say, 
why are you so concerned? Okay, President Aristide said he felt like he 
was kidnapped. Some people say, well, he wasn't kidnapped, that's not 
true. Who's right? Who's wrong? That is not the issue. The issue is 
that for us to provide the kind of forward progress that we are going 
to need in Haiti to make sure that Haiti is able to move forth in a 
democratic way, for us to continue to have the international community 
willing to be a part of democracy-building in the Caribbean as it 
relates to other Caribbean islands surrounding Haiti, then we can no 
longer move forth with a Saturday night policy ultimatum.
  This should have not happened, ladies and gentlemen. Mr. Speaker, I 
must say that it brings into question the very safety of troops and 
also it brings into question good elections in the future. If Haitians 
that were pro-Aristide and within the party that he was the head of 
know and feel that the United States played a strong role in his 
departure by force, and taken from Mr. Noriega's quote, I might add, 
that he just gave in responding to the gentleman from New York (Mr. 
Rangel) in the committee just a couple of hours ago, the gentleman from 
New York asked him: Mr. Noriega, is it true that President Aristide was 
told that he needed to sign a resignation letter before he boarded the 
  Mr. Noriega responded: It was important to make sure that we have a 
positive process to a political resolution.
  The gentleman from New York asked him again: Is it true that he was 
asked to sign a resignation letter before he boarded the plane? That 
answer was: Yes.
  And then after that, to give Secretary Noriega some credit, he said 
that to make sure that we can resolve a good political resolution.
  Mr. Speaker, if someone showed up to my house on a Saturday night and 
shared with me that either I needed to leave with them or I would be 
killed and my family, I would leave. If they were to ask me, listen, 
sign your mortgage or your deed over to your property because we are 
not going to take you unless you do that, I would sign it.
  We met with the Secretary-General of the U.N., several Members of 
this Congress, on Monday. This brings into question, was this an exit 
of a leader who wanted to leave of his own free will and saying that, 
hey, come get me, I already have my resignation letter ready and I'm 
willing to sign it, I want to thank you, America, for helping me and 
helping my family leave this island? Or was this a resignation under 
duress? We do not know if the 33rd coup d'etat took place on Saturday 
night or it was just a misunderstanding.
  I must say, I am no fan, and I have said this time after time, Mr. 
Speaker, of President Aristide. I represent Miami. I represent south 
Florida. But what I am a fan of is democracy. When these knee-jerk 
policy decisions are made on a Saturday night, it puts forth a bad 
light on the United States of America as it relates to how we deal with 
democracies in South America or in the Americas. This is so very, very 
important. We are sending the signal to individuals that will arm 
themselves, known to be outlaws, have been a part of terror groups in 
the past of Haiti to arm themselves and take cities, if we like it or 
not. Some may argue, well, the 2000 elections as it relates to Haiti 
was wrong and it was

[[Page H810]]

flawed. I would say that he was recognized and given credentials by the 
Ambassador of the U.S., President Aristide was. He was recognized by 
the United Nations as the President of Haiti. So to even talk about the 
2000 elections, and I think that we should not even go there as it 
relates to our own personal situations. And one thing that I do honor. 
Never once that I have denounced or said that President Bush is not my 
President. He is my President. Until November, until we all get a 
chance to be able to cast our ballots as Americans on how we feel, he 
will be the President until that point. If he is reelected, he will be 
reelected. That is just something that we have to live with. But what 
is important as we move forth from this point and making sure that we 
stop the violence is that we play with a level hand. Guy Philippe is an 
individual that has said, once again, that he will arrest the prime 
minister. The prime minister of Haiti's house has been burned down to 
the ground. It has been looted and burned down to the ground. He has 
been living in his office protected by U.S. Marines. Can he leave that 
office? No. I do not think that that is a safe situation.
  I have one other thing before I yield to my colleague here. Secretary 
Dewey said that there has been over 900 Haitians rescued. The 
Secretary-General of the U.N. had brought a question to the United 
States policy as it relates to individuals trying to flee Haiti of fear 
of persecution. Persecution means that if you return, you are fearful 
of your life or your family's life, women and children. We have 
repatriated over 900 Haitians even though the road is littered of 
bloated bodies that the rebel forces left in the path on their way to 
Port-au-Prince, never once stopped by the United States of America, 
never once stopped by the international community but kept marching on. 
It is that same rebel force that did not agree to any of the diplomatic 
or political solutions we tried to bring about to bring a peaceful 
resolution to what was going on in Haiti. Nine hundred were 
repatriated. The Secretary reported since Aristide has left the island 
only three have been caught and repatriated. Let me just say this. 
After the 900 that were brought into the Port-au-Prince dock and sent 
off to the streets because they were leaving from the south end of the 
island, not from Port-au-Prince, which is like over 100 miles away, 
they are walking through a populated area where rebel forces and other 
folks can see them and their families. Some of them are government 
workers, some of them are individuals that were pro-Aristide or they 
never would have left the island in the first place. They were not 
leaving because of President Aristide. They were leaving because of the 
violence and the violence and the persecution that they were going to 
receive. So I would not even try to leave if I knew I was going to go 
through Port-au-Prince and everyone was going to see me and know 
exactly where I am. They are now in hiding in Haiti.
  I think it is important, ladies and gentlemen, that we look at what 
we are doing and how we are doing it and if we want to see a peaceful 
resolution in Haiti, it is important that we put forth policy not on 
slogan but based on making sure that our troops and humanitarian 
supporters are safe. So it is very, very important that we understand 
that as this U.S. Congress.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from Michigan, the ranking 
member of the Committee on the Judiciary.
  Mr. CONYERS. I thank the gentleman from Florida for yielding.
  (Mr. CONYERS asked and was given permission to revise and extend his 
  Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Speaker, I begin by commending my colleague from 
Florida for the testimony that he has given before the Subcommittee on 
the Western Hemisphere of the Committee on International Relations. It 
has been quite a day, quite an afternoon and evening. As a matter of 
fact, that subcommittee is still going on as we take this special 
order. I think the gentleman who has perhaps more citizens of Haitian 
descent than anyone else in the Congress should take this special order 
in which we can continue to develop the discussion about how we are to 
deal with this very sensitive foreign policy issue that is made more 
emphatic because of the fact that it is within the Western hemisphere. 
This is not thousands of miles away. This is hundreds of miles away 
from our shore. It is very, very important. I appreciate my colleague's 
testimony and that of all the members of the Committee on International 
Relations and the Congressional Black Caucus and others who 
participated in the proceedings this afternoon in the Committee on 
International Relations.

                              {time}  1900

  Let us begin with the most immediate consideration, that is, the 
safety of the president of Haiti and his wife, Mildred Aristide. And I 
want to ask the gentleman from Florida if he can shed any light based 
on the numerous discussions that went on around this subject this 
afternoon in terms of where they are and what amount of security is 
being made available to them at this point.
  Mr. MEEK of Florida. Mr. Speaker, from what I understand, I have no 
firsthand accounts, that they are in a Central African country, that 
they have French and U.S. guards that are protecting them, including 
their own private security that President Aristide has had over the 
last couple of years. So from what I understand, his life is not in 
jeopardy, and I am glad that the gentleman has brought that up because 
there are many people not only in the United States but many of my 
constituents that feel otherwise, and we try to find out that kind of 
good information and share it with them that all is well so that we can 
hopefully see some sort of smooth political process in the future.
  Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for his comments. And 
I would like to put on the record at this point that the Assistant 
Secretary of State, Mr. Noriega, testified, much to my interest, that 
at this point the United States, having brought the president and his 
wife to the Central Republic of Africa, has now taken no responsibility 
for his security at this point. This is a Francophone country in sub-
Saharan Africa that has recently undergone a coup. As a matter of fact, 
there were two coups, and the last one was successful. It is a very 
dangerous circumstance because those of us who may have talked to the 
president or his wife, and I am one of them, they have yet to have met 
with the president of the country in which they have been brought, that 
they are apparently under some kind of formal or informal house arrest, 
that they consider themselves to be in danger.
  So I wanted to put everybody on notice in the United States of 
America, including the President and the Secretary of State of the 
United States, that they may be in danger even as we speak. We are 
trying to get phone calls to them to determine what amount of security 
is being afforded them. It is somewhat disingenuous for the Assistant 
Secretary of State to tell us that having deposited them in a rather 
isolated part of Africa of a very small and modest means, this nation, 
in a country in Africa which is circumscribed by poverty and economic 
deprivation, which in some reports to me have indicated that there may 
be elements of civil unrest still going on in the country, that he 
could testify before a committee of the United States Government that 
we have no responsibility for the president's or his wife's safety at 
this point. If this does not set off alarm bells, I do not know what 
else will.
  So if this Special Order convened by the gentleman from Florida does 
nothing else but preserve the security and safety of the president and 
his wife in the National Republic of Africa, this will be well worth 
the time that we have spent here.
  It is my position that the United States has every responsibility for 
the continued security and safety of the president. As a matter of 
fact, we have been told that the reason that he left Haiti was because 
his life and his wife's were in danger. Now to take him thousands of 
miles out of his country and then tell us that we have no longer any 
responsibility for his security, it is up to somebody else, is totally 
unacceptable. And I want to put this government on notice right now 
that we had better get some security over there if it is not already, 
and this is what I am going to be working on for the rest of the 
evening and into the morning.
  Mr. MEEK of Florida. Mr. Speaker, I think that is important too. I 

[[Page H811]]

want to make sure that I clarify that, from what I understand from the 
gentleman from New York (Mr. Rangel), that he spoke with President 
Aristide this evening or earlier, and he did share that he had French, 
U.S., and personal security individuals; and he is on a French base in 
this particular country. Hopefully, that security holds up over time 
and justifiably so.
  Going back to what I was mentioning a little earlier, and I know that 
the gentleman from New York (Mr. Meeks) has joined us now for this 
discussion, but the very safety and how President Aristide was removed 
speaks to the future security of Haiti. And the gentleman from Michigan 
is a member of the Committee on the Judiciary. I know that he is fully 
aware of the temporary protected status that all of us have been 
fighting for so that we do not put Haitians that are in the U.S. into 
harm's way just like we have done for other countries that had similar 
turmoil, be it political or natural disaster. I think it is important 
that we note that when people are saying why are we worried about how 
President Aristide left, I am more worried, Mr. Speaker, about the 
safety of the Haitian people, also worried about our troops that are in 
Haiti protecting not only U.S. properties but also looking at the issue 
as it relates to the safety of humanitarian workers; and I think the 
way that the administration moved on a Saturday night/early Sunday 
morning with this whole resignation thing or he cannot get on a plane 
fuels more chaos on the ground in Haiti.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield back to the gentleman, as the ranking member of 
the Committee on the Judiciary, to speak to that.
  Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Speaker, let us review the urgency of what the 
gentleman has described as the designation of a temporary protected 
status for all Haitians who are fleeing the country. I was not able to 
raise this personally with Mr. Noriega, the Assistant Secretary of 
State for Caribbean Affairs; but he said that now that President 
Aristide has gone, it may be safe for people to return to Haiti. This 
is probably the most dangerous statement that has been uttered in a 
congressional hearing certainly this year and maybe all last year as 
  To tell anybody that it is safe to go back to Haiti when there is no 
government, when the rebel leaders have announced that they are 
replacing the police and cooperating with the prime minister, people 
who led the overthrow of the first democratically elected president in 
the 200-year existence of Haiti, is probably the most incredible 
utterance of this year or last year. And the gentlewoman from Texas 
(Ms. Jackson-Lee), our ranking subcommittee person on the Immigration, 
Border Security, and Claims Subcommittee on the Committee on the 
Judiciary, and I and others on the committee have written Secretary 
Ridge, asking that he designate temporary protected status to the 
Haitians that are fleeing. To turn them around upon arriving here from 
hundreds of miles in an ocean always on very fragile craft, that the 
first miracle is that it even got to our shores, would be inhumane. And 
yet this is the policy as we speak tonight.
  And so I have to ask the President of the United States to review 
this standard, especially since this is the only group coming to this 
country, Haitians, that are instantly turned away in violation of the 
immigration laws of this country and in violation of the humanitarian 
laws that control all of us in the family of nations and in the United 
Nations itself.
  Mr. MEEK of Florida. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the gentleman for 
coming down and his being willing to stay and be a part of this 
  I know the gentleman from New York (Mr. Meeks) left the Committee on 
International Relations to come here and join us here tonight.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from New York (Mr. Meeks).
  Mr. MEEKS of New York. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the gentleman 
from Florida for yielding to me, and I want to thank him for having 
this important hour. I want to thank the distinguished ranking member 
of the Committee on the Judiciary and the dean of the Congressional 
Black Caucus as to all of his insight and his invaluable knowledge.
  I just left the hearing; and just piggybacking on the colloquy that 
was taking place, I just asked one of the witnesses that was brought in 
who used to be in charge of Haiti University, and I asked him a simple 
question since I know that part of the administration had brought him 
here and wanted him to testify since he was their witness, whether or 
not he thought that individuals in Haiti should receive asylum right 
now coming into America, whether he thought that the policy that the 
United States has of turning back Haitians and accepting Cubans was a 
fair policy. And he quickly and unequivocally said that he thought that 
that policy should change and it shows absolute discrimination against 
the Haitian people and that that is something we should be moving in a 
complete bipartisan manner to make sure that we take care of those 
individuals, particularly now because of the fact that our hands are 
virtually tied into what is taking place in Haiti currently.
  We need to talk about the security of the people that are on this 
little island called Haiti, 8 million people. What is going to happen 
to them? It seems to me that what took place here when we did not 
compel the individuals to sit down at the table to have a peaceful 
negotiation, when we knew that the alternative would be that common 
crooks and criminals would be coming in armed, coming across the 
border, people who had been banned for life and people who are really 
Benedict Arnolds because they were traitors to their own country, that 
they would be coming back to have an insurrection as well as killing 
innocent men and women on the streets of Haiti, that we should have 
done something about it. And now with no form of government that is 
there now, democracy basically we did not uphold, it has crumbled, the 
people in Haiti are at the mercy of these individuals.
  I think that the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Meek) clearly pointed 
out at the Committee on International Relations how he brought both The 
Washington Post and the New York Times showing this Philippe, who is a 
known criminal, convicted, is now declaring himself to be the leader 
and people holding him up as if he is ruling the country, and we saw no 
place in the paper, nor have I heard of anyone else saying, that they 
were in charge. We have not heard from the prime minister. We have not 
seen that the chief justice of the supreme court, anywhere in the 
constitution, when we talk about democracy, says is supposed to be in 

                              {time}  1915

  Here is this guy demanding and commanding the police force, telling 
the people if this guy shows his face he is going to have him placed 
under arrest. So the people of Haiti are under, apparently, unless the 
papers are lying, and from what I see, are apparently under the 
jurisdiction of individuals who are convicted criminals. What they did 
was come, and now they have opened up and destroyed all of the prisons, 
where people who are under a legal system, we talk about institutions, 
but under a judicial institution system, that were convicted by law, 
they are now walking the streets and the people of Haiti are subject to 
  So I say to the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Meek), we have to really 
wonder whether or not the people in Haiti are safe now. I hope that the 
troops on the ground are changing their position, because I know at one 
time they were only protecting United States property. So the question 
is, what about the people?
  Mr. MEEK of Florida. If I could reclaim my time from the gentleman 
from New York (Mr. Meeks), I just wanted to make a quick point. I share 
with Secretary Noriega and others, you would have individuals in the 
White House saying that, well, I hope that Members of Congress would 
watch what they say, because they are putting troops' lives and State 
Department civilian workers' lives at stake.
  I must beg to differ, because we did not make the Saturday night 
visit. We did not bring about the kind of swiftness that our country 
brought about. We did not allow rebels, I am going to use Mr. Noriega's 
term, ``thugs and criminals,'' to go through Haiti, taking over cities, 
burning police departments, pulling pro-Aristide supporters out and 
executing them in front of their homes. We did not do that as

[[Page H812]]

Members of the Congress. And as it relates to the executive branch, the 
administration, they did not stop it. All they did was put out a little 
press release and say ``we condemn the actions of this group. Stop 
doing what you are doing.''
  Not only did we go to the negotiating table, and I commend Mr. 
Noriega for going over there, I commend the President for saying we are 
sending the diplomatic corps over there. President Aristide sat down 
and said, ``Fine, I agree with you. Let us share power.''
  The opposition party said no. ``Okay. We will give you a deadline of 
5 o'clock.'' Still no. The following day, still no. Then we just kind 
of walked away.
  But then it became a point to where that in this democracy, the 
biggest democracy on the face of the Earth, the United States of 
America, went in and told the President of Haiti, as wrong as he may be 
on several issues, ``You have two choices: One, we can have a plane 
here to save the lives of you and your family, or you will be killed. 
And, by the way, if you want the plane, you have to sign this letter 
resigning as president of the country that you were elected to serve.''
  I would say to the gentleman from New York (Mr. Meeks) and the 
gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Conyers), I hate to keep going back to 
that point, because I think that is going to be the cornerstone of how 
we move forth in Haiti.
  Now, you listen to Mr. Noriega, you listen to the President, they 
start saying, ``Well, you know, we are restoring order and peace.'' But 
that is not what the Washington Post is saying. That is not what the 
New York Times is saying. That is not what the Miami Herald is saying. 
That is not what the Associated Press is saying. That is not what CNN 
is saying. That is not what MSNBC and any other news organizations are 
  What they are saying is Mr. Guy Philippe is the leader of the army 
and he is in charge, and he will say, President Alexandre of the 
Supreme Court, I will yield to him, but at the same time it is him 
riding through the streets with armed bandits.
  Mr. MEEKS of New York. Just quickly, it is not only all of the press, 
but my constituents who have relatives that live in Haiti, and they are 
on either side of the fence. Some of them do not like Aristide either. 
But they do not like these common crooks that are there.
  When they call my office, they are telling me they are afraid for 
their mothers, for their grandmothers, for their uncles, for their 
aunts who are living there now. The situation is not better than it was 
before Aristide was forced to get on the plane. In fact, if anything 
else, it is worse. That is what they are calling my office and saying 
to me.
  Mr. CONYERS. If the gentleman would yield further, I would like to 
put in the Record a communication from Jamaica from Randall White about 
the meeting of the CARICOM Conference, the more than two dozen nations 
in the Caribbean, who have sent this communication.
  It reads: ``The CARICOM prime minister's press conference ended at 
about 1330 EST today after meetings which began yesterday and about 
  ``Here are the main points of the press conference.'' This is 
CARICOM, of which Haiti is a Member.
  ``A communique is being drafted and will be issued later.
  ``CARICOM does not accept the removal of Aristide and demands the 
immediate return of democratic government in Haiti.
  ``CARICOM leaders have been in almost constant contact with Aristide 
before his removal and were never given the impression that he wished 
to resign or to leave Haiti.
  ``CARICOM demands an impartial transparent investigation by the 
United Nations into the circumstances surrounding Aristide's removal.
  ``CARICOM will have no dealings with the so-called government of 
  Mr. Speaker, I include the communication from Randall White for the 

       The Caricom prime minister's press conference ended at 
     about 1330 EST after meetings which began yesterday and ended 
     about midday today. I must confess pleasure and some surprise 
     at the strength of the response.
       Here are the main points of the press conference. A 
     communique is begin drafted and will be issued later.
       Caricom does not accept the removal of Aristide and demands 
     the immediate return of democratic government in Haiti.
       Caricom leaders had been in almost constant contact with 
     Aristide before his removal and were never given the 
     impression that he wished to resign or leave Haiti.
       Caricom demands an impartial transparent investigation, by 
     the UN, into the circumstances surrounding Aristide's 
       Caricom will have no dealings with the so-called government 
     of Haiti.
        Seems like a good strong statement.

  That reminds me that in our visit to the United Nations to meet with 
the esteemed Secretary General, Kofi Annan, it was announced today that 
they, too, have launched an investigation into this matter.
  Mr. MEEK of Florida. Mr. Chairman, I want to thank you for reading 
that, and I will tell you how important CARICOM is to the economy here 
in the United States. We have what we call the Free Trade of the 
Americas, and they are a part of the whole hemisphere and economy and 
everything. We need the Caribbean with us.
  Prime minister Patterson of Jamaica put forth a great effort as a 
neighbor to Haiti of wanting to see a resolution, a peaceful 
resolution. It was the Bush administration that rode in on the backs of 
CARICOM saying that we are going to use the CARICOM agreement. That is 
what the Secretary of State Noriega went down to Haiti to negotiate. 
Prime minister P.J. Patterson went to the Security Council on Friday of 
last week saying we must immediately go into Haiti to secure the 
situation so that we can resolve the CARICOM agreement, which was the 
political solution.
  To his shock and dismay Saturday evening came about, and I will tell 
you there is no secret, there have been press accounts, that basically 
President Aristide was told the following: ``One, get on the plane and 
leave and save the lives of you and your family; or die.''
  Now, this is the bicentennial, as the gentleman from New York (Mr. 
Meeks) knows, of Haiti, 200 years. On this 200th anniversary, or 
bicentennial, history is going to reflect that the United States played 
a hand in what possibly could have been the 33rd coup d'etat of Haiti.
  I personally did not want our contribution to be that, especially 
since Haiti made it possible for us to make the Louisiana Purchase by 
taking out and beating down Napoleon, who was trying to run the whole 
world. Haiti went to Savannah to help us gain our independence against 
the British.
  We got all upset with France over Iraq, talking about they do not 
appreciate our contributions of the past. I will say that the way we 
are going about it, I will not even say ``we,'' because I do not think 
this Congress would have even moved in this way, if we had the 
prerogative to have some say in this, in the way the administration 
  So, Mr. Chairman, I am glad you put that into the Record of the 
Congress, so Americans will have an opportunity to reflect back on this 
moment to know that there were Members who were willing to bring this 
issue to the floor to let them know that history should not repeat 
  Mr. MEEKS of New York. Mr. Speaker, if the gentleman will yield 
further, I think that CARICOM really should be applauded, because they 
really stepped up to the plate. They could have sat back and said just 
let it be. They could have been silent, as we were, up until that 
point, because we did not push CARICOM or anything.
  We are the largest democracy on the planet. Yet we did not go in 
there to urge any kind of diplomatic or political solution. It took the 
nations of CARICOM to step up to the plate and say, ``Look, we do not 
want mayhem and violence. We understand the history and significance of 
Haiti. Therefore, we are going to come up with this plan and try to get 
two people to the table.''
  Who dropped the ball? Unfortunately, this administration dropped the 
ball, because it did absolutely nothing to urge the opposition to come 
to the table. In fact, by its silence it said, ``You do not have to 
come to the table,'' which one knew then would lead to a result of what 
could possibly be the 33rd coup d'etat in the history of Haiti.
  When we look at it, the question is, what if anything could have been 

[[Page H813]]

by Aristide at that time, because he agreed to everything. First the 
bishops came with an agreement. Aristide agreed to it. The opposition 
disagreed. No one compelled them to come to the table. Then CARICOM 
came. Then there was an international group that came. You would have 
one side there saying we are willing to talk.

  I for one had some problems with what was going on, and I thought 
having some more people involved in government and making sure there is 
a balance of power, that is what democracy was all about. As I looked 
at the CARICOM agreement, I saw there were concessions in there that 
individuals who may have felt they were locked out of government and 
not able to participate in a democratic process, that they were given, 
and that was going to be part of the negotiating peace, where they 
would be given the opportunity to sit in a floor similar to what we 
have here in the United States of America, in Haiti, so they could have 
the political debate to argue one side to the other.
  Now, for sure, in my estimation, I do not agree with most of the 
things that the Republicans in our House do, as far as what they are 
moving. But we do not get into armed revolt. What we do is talk about 
it and debate on the floor and I have an opportunity to participate. 
Sometimes I even question the opportunity to participate because we are 
limited in our rules. But still it is the democratic process. It is the 
institution that we have. I think that is how problems should be 
resolved, and that is what we should urge people to do.
  I said for a long time that I disagreed with the results that took 
place in the year 2000, where I believe that we had a President that 
was selected by the Supreme Court. I disagreed with that. But I thought 
that the way that we responded when we said okay, I disagree with it, 
but the Supreme Court is what our institutions say where there a 
dispute it is to be resolved. So even the fact that I disagreed with 
what took place and with the decision, I am going to agree with that.
  That would be a lesson, an example, for the rest of the world to see, 
and thereby we should then also encourage other individuals to 
establish these kinds of institutions and to support them and not 
undermine them with common crooks and criminals.
  Mr. MEEK of Florida. I have two points and a question for the 
chairman. Two points: Number one, President Aristide was recognized not 
only by the U.S. Ambassador, I want to recap, as the duly elected 
President of Haiti, but also recognized by the United Nations and the 
international community as being the President of Haiti. So when we 
hear these arguments about a questionable election, I do not say 
history speaks to that as it relates to our diplomatic ties with Haiti.
  Mr. Ranking Member, whom I refer to as ``chairman'' constantly, the 
gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Conyers), I have a question for you: Let 
us just play ``what if.'' Let us just reflect back, because I was not 
in the Congress when William Jefferson Clinton was the President of the 
United States of America.
  If there was a Saturday night visit by the Clinton administration to 
a democratically elected leader, what kind of Congressional hearings 
would be taking place right now on the Hill? I just want the gentleman 
to share that. I want the Record to reflect that, because I remember 
being a member of the State legislature a number of hearings for less.
  I yield to the gentleman from Michigan.
  Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding.
  Well, first of all, we want to commend the subcommittee chairman, the 
gentleman from North Carolina (Mr. Ballenger), for doing what he did 
today. I think it was very important. We will have a transcript of that 
record, the media was there, and it is an important beginning. But the 
gentlewoman from California (Ms. Lee) and myself, who are the co-chairs 
of the Haiti Committee, will have a resolution circulating tomorrow 
calling for an independent examination of this over and above the 

                              {time}  1930

  The United Nations will be embarking on the same thing. And so it 
seems to me that the three things I wanted to add as we conclude, and 
this is what I think has been the import of this 3-way discussion this 
evening: one, the safety of the President of Haiti and his wife in the 
Republic of Africa; two, that we have an immediate meeting with 
Secretary of State Powell and Ridge about the temporary protected 
status of anybody that flees from Haiti and comes to our shores; and, 
three, that we continue the introduction of the resolution that will 
call for, in addition to any congressional activity in the House or the 
Senate, an independent examination of the circumstances of the United 
States in terms of this coup d'etat that has occurred in Haiti.
  If there are other items to add, I would be pleased to add them to 
this list.
  Mr. MEEK of Florida. Mr. Chairman, I just want to say that it is 
important that we try not in our democracy to revisit the kind of 
action as I understand it has taken place over the last 84 hours. While 
we are speaking into the record, I want to commend not only the 
Secretary of the U.N. for his forward progress and concern and in 
appointing a special envoy to deal with this situation in Haiti. But it 
is going to be upon this Congress to be able to respond in the way that 
we should. We cannot have it both ways. We cannot say, Haitians, you 
stay in Haiti and then on the other hand clog up assistance. We cannot 
say, because it is all wrapped around Haitians leaving, that is the 
real issue. Haitians, stay in Haiti. Deal with your own issues, but we 
will hold up the assistance. I say that again because that is what has 
happened in the past, Mr. Speaker.
  I appreciate the gentleman's work as chairman of the working group as 
it relates to Haiti and its issues. But the gentleman from New York 
(Mr. Meeks) and I celebrate representing a large Haitian American 
population, and I must say that it is important that we do the right 
thing in Haiti.
  Number one, to make sure our troops are not over there for the rest 
of their lives. Because if we follow the Bush policy that has been 
followed in Iraq, we do not know when the clock will run out on that. 
We do not know how long our troops will be there. If you let some of us 
tell it, we think we are in charge in Iraq. And every day on the news 
it is different.
  So when I look at this administration, it is a say-one-thing-and-do-
another administration. And I hope that the American people are paying 
very close attention. If you care about Haiti or not, you have to care 
about the moves that we are making that are going to define the very 
future of our children's and grandchildren's lives based on the knee-
jerk decisions that are being made on a Saturday night.
  Mr. MEEKS of New York. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the gentleman, as 
well as the ranking member, the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Conyers), 
when I think about the whole Haitian task force.
  Number one, the record should reflect that this is the gentleman's 
first term in Congress, and he surely has followed right in the foot 
steps of his mother, Carrie Meek, who long stood fighting for the 
rights of Haitians and talking about the injustice that Haitians were 
receiving. And I think that his stepping forward on behalf of the 
Haitian people is clearly what he has done.
  We talked in the hearing about the wisdom that the gentleman has 
brought to the hearing today and that he brings every Wednesday to the 
Congressional Black Caucus meeting because the gentleman has this 
interdialogue with individuals from his community, the largest Haitian 
community on or in our country. And what the gentleman brings is a 
different insight. It is an insight that unless you have that kind of 
interaction, everybody would not know of. And the gentleman has done it 
in such an articulate manner, and we appreciate it.
  I mean, how the gentleman pointed out today, for example, that our 
policy, we had a problem talking about getting troops there to stop the 
common crooks from coming, but we had boats there instantly where you 
can see them from the shore to stop Haitians from coming here. That is 
why you only see 900 here. That was just very astute of the gentleman, 
and we thank him for bringing that forward.
  Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Speaker, I would like to join the gentleman from New

[[Page H814]]

York (Mr. Meeks) in that commendation to the gentleman from Florida 
(Mr. Meek).
  Mr. MEEK of Florida. If the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Conyers) 
could yield while I call my mother so she can watch. Both of the 
gentlemen are saying these wonderful things about me. Go ahead.
  Mr. CONYERS. This has been very important; and, of course, it is very 
clear that this is the beginning of our inquiries into U.S. activities, 
conduct, action, in front of and behind the scenes with regard to this 
poor, distraught, economically strapped nation.
  We have a much wider obligation than has been employed so far, and I 
think the Congressional Black Caucus, the Hispanic Caucus which has 
joined with us, the Progressive Caucus, the Pacific-Asian caucus, the 
Native American Caucus, we have all been working together with a number 
of people. The gentlewoman from Illinois (Ms. Schakowsky) is in at 
least one of those caucuses, but there are a number of other people 
that are coming in to join us because democracy is being tested by what 
we do and what we say.
  It is very important. We met with the CARICOM leaders and its 
chairman, just before we met in the United Nations; and it was very 
obvious to them that if this could happen to Haiti, it could happen to 
  Mr. MEEKS of New York. Just on that point, because, I think it is 
important, on the whole western hemisphere because the first statement 
that we heard from President Chavez from Venezuela is indicating that 
Venezuela is not Haiti. Because just in April of 2003, there was an 
attempted coup there, again, threatening democracy; and we stood idly 
by. And but for the people of Venezuela who decided that they were not 
going to allow the coup to stand and put the president back, we were 
silent on that.
  Our hands were kind of caught, the administration's hands I should 
say, because the gentleman is correct. I do not think the Congress 
would have acted that way, but the administration's hand was caught in 
a cookie jar. Here we come just a few months, we move from that, and we 
have the same kind of coup. There is a lot of similarities in that, 
whereas we seem to disregard the institution of democracy because of 
the dislike of who happens to be the democratically elected president. 
What we should be doing is looking to see how we can strengthen those 
institutions of democracy, how we can be helpful to strengthen those 
institutions as opposed to saying that the way you do that is to have a 
coup d'etat which gets rid of government altogether and causes mayhem.
  Mr. MEEK of Florida. Let me just say this, there is a footprint of 
drug activity in the Caribbean. So that means that you have well-
financed individuals that have guns that have now been green-lighted by 
this administration, that it is okay. And if I were the prime minister 
of any country in that area, I would be very concerned.
  You would assume that the U.S. would help put a stop to this kind of 
thing. This is the vacation capital of the Caribbean. They are not used 
to worrying about coups and all these little different things. But if 
they watch very slowly over a 4-week period, drug dealers, known 
criminals, thugs going through Haiti and if you notice as they are 
starting to progress, they are getting body armor, helmets, fully 
automatic AR-15s, M-16s.
  Mr. MEEKS of New York. Where do they come from?
  Mr. MEEK of Florida. They say they came from the Dominican Republic. 
Also, there was a question about the U.S. selling arms to the Dominican 
Republic, some of those same arms that ended up in Haiti.
  So I am not a man with conspiracy theory here. And take it from my 
good friend, the gentleman from New York (Mr. Rangel), this is not the 
Kendrick Meek Report. This is factual. So we have a lot to be worried 
about. And like I am saying to Americans, what this administration is 
doing as it relates to putting our armed services and making the job 
harder, we could have had peacekeeping troops in there. We could have 
stopped the violence, and we could have come up with a peaceful 
  Mr. CONYERS. Under the Special Orders that we will be taking tomorrow 
evening, I will be able to report to you the whereabouts of young 
Duvalier, who is reported today to be planning to return to Haiti. And 
there is a young gentleman evicted from Haiti named Constant in New 
  Mr. MEEK of Florida. He is in my district.
  Mr. CONYERS. We have to watch where he is at all times. His record is 
bloody and long and unsavory. And so I am very glad that both of the 
gentleman, who have enormous Haitian constituents, are here not just 
because of their numbers, but because American democracy is on trial in 
  Mr. MEEK of Florida. As we close, Mr. Speaker, and I want to thank 
the Members of the House and the Democratic leader for allowing us to 
have this moment to address not only Members of the House, but the 
American people and that we think long and hard about the decisions 
that the President is making. We think we should not automatically give 
instant credibility to Saturday-night decisions.
  I am pretty sure there is a strong argument to justify the reason why 
we went in and we told President Aristide what we told him when we told 
him. I am pretty sure that there is a strong argument when we said you 
have to sign this letter of resignation not once, but twice, before you 
board the plane to save your own life. I am pretty sure there is an 
argument. But I will tell you as we look on the annals of history of 
this country and how we treat democracies, like it or not, there has to 
be a better way. For us to make sure that we assure the safety of those 
peacekeeping troops that are there, some that are Americans, some that 
are do-gooders at the United Nations, we need to make sure that we do 
not put them in harm's way.
  Mr. Speaker, I pray and I hope that we do not have any harm come to 
any of the peacekeepers that are there. I pray and hope that the 
killings stop on both sides of the ball as it relates to Haitian 
  Mr. Speaker, with that I will close. I am proud to be a Member of the 
U.S. House of Representatives, and I hope in the future that we can 
change some of the mistakes that have been made in the last 84 hours.


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