Congresswoman Waters Offers Amendment on Haiti; States That Elections in Haiti This Year Would Be a Disaster
Today, on the Floor of the House of Representatives, Rep. Maxine Waters (CA-35) offered an amendment to express the sense of Congress that national elections should not be held in the Republic of Haiti until conditions have been established to ensure that the elections will be free and fair. The U.S. Government and the interim government of Haiti are persisting in their plans to hold elections in October and November of this year despite widespread insecurity and violence throughout Haiti.
"Until all candidates for office can travel safely throughout Haiti, they cannot be expected to campaign for office," said the Congresswoman. "Until American citizens can travel to Haiti without risking their lives, they cannot be expected to monitor Haitian elections, and until the people of Haiti can walk outside of their homes in peace, they cannot be expected to vote."
Congresswoman Waters' amendment lists the following conditions as critical to the conduct of free and fair elections in Haiti:
- The disarmament of all gangs and illegally armed groups.
- An end to kidnappings of civilians.
- Security for all United States citizens working in Haiti.
- The establishment of security throughout Haiti in order to enable all candidates to campaign for office safely.
- Plans to provide security at all polling places.
- Plans to ensure security for United States and international election monitors.
- Fair trials or release for all persons in Haiti who are being detained without trial.
- Respect for internationally recognized human rights.
"Violence in Haiti has been escalating over the past year," Congresswoman Waters explained. "Members of the Lavalas political party are murdered routinely. Kidnappings are commonplace, and security is non-existent. The interim government of Haiti has been unable to disarm the gangs that roam the country, enforce the rule of law, or provide security to citizens and foreigners. The Haitian National Police contribute to the violence through summary executions and other forms of brutality. This is not an atmosphere that is conducive to the organization of free and fair elections."
The Congresswoman's amendment was offered to H.R. 3057, the Foreign Operations Appropriations Act, and was ruled out of order based on a technical interpretation of House rules.
"My amendment would have made it clear that the United States Congress does not support holding elections in the current atmosphere of widespread insecurity and violence," said Congresswoman Waters. "I am disappointed that my colleagues did not have an opportunity to pass my amendment."