Half-Hour for Haiti: Support the TRUTH Act Update: Good news: the first bill of the year supporting justice in Haiti was filed in the U.S. Congress. Rep. Barbara Lee introduced H.R. 351, the TRUTH Act, which was referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. It now needs our help (see below). Thank you to everyone who wrote Edmond Mulet, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in Haiti. We have not yet received a response from Mr. Mulet, please let us know if you have. On Friday, Cite Soleil residents returned a machine gun that UN peacekeepers had abandoned following a skirmish in December.Coming Attractions: Democracy is celebrated in Haiti on February 7, the anniversary of the departure of Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier (1986) and the inaugurations of Presidents Aristide (1991 and 2001) and Preval (1996). Haiti’s Fondation Trente Septembre, joined by grassroots groups in Haiti and the US, have asked us to commemorate February 7 through the International Day in Solidarity with the People of Haiti. Please consider attending or organizing an event to promote justice in Haiti in your area. Events can include vigils, protests, or house meetings. A few friends gathered together is a good start. The Quixote Center’s Haiti Reborn Program has a week of activities organized in its annual Haiti Solidarity Week February 3-10, 2007, which focuses on debt cancellation for Haiti. Haiti Reborn is also looking for people to coordinate local events.
This Week’s Action: Support the TRUTH Act. Formally known as the Independent Commission on the 2004 Coup d’Etat in the Republic of Haiti, H.R. 351 may be the only chance for a credible official investigation of Haiti’s coup. The TRUTH Act, if passed, will establish a bi-partisan commission much like the 9/11 Commission. Commission members would be appointed by Congress (half by Republican leaders, half by Democrats), and would be entrusted with investigating the February 2004 Haitian coup d’état, and determining whether the United States government contributed to the overthrow of the Constitutional President, directly or by channeling aid to subversive groups.
The commission would have the power to call witnesses under oath, and compel production of government agency documents. It would issue a report of its findings, conclusions, and recommendations for corrective measures, if needed. For more on why the TRUTH Act is good for Haiti and for the U.S., see U.S. Congress Should Make New Year’s Resolution for Haiti.
The next step for the TRUTH Act is collecting co-sponsors in the House of Representatives, to demonstrate support. That’s where you come in. Please call, write or fax your Representative to co-sponsor the act. A sample letter is below. To find contact information for your representative, visit http://www.house.gov/writerep, or call the Capitol switchboard, 202-224-2131 and ask for your representative by name. Urge your Representative to contact Aysha House-Moshi at Rep. Barbara Lee’s office, 202-225-2661.
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Representative ________:
I am writing to urge you to cosponsor the Independent Commission on the 2004 Coup d’Etat in the Republic of Haiti Act, H.R. 351, also known as the TRUTH Act.
The Act was introduced by Rep. Barbara Lee and is currently before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. It would create a bi-partisan commission, much like the 9/11 Commission to investigate the February 2004 coup d’état in Haiti, and determine whether the United States government contributed to the overthrow of the Constitutional President, directly or by channeling aid to subversive groups.
Investigators, human rights groups, journalists, members of Congress and national leaders in Latin America and the Caribbean have made serious allegations that the U.S. Government played a key role in the February 2004 overthrow of constitutional President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, by supporting his armed and unarmed opponents, weakening the government through a development assistance embargo and eventually forcing him onto a plane.
If these charges are true, the Bush Administration’s actions directly contradicted the fundamental U.S. commitment to democracy, both here and abroad. If the Bush Administration did not intervene to destabilize President Aristide, it deserves to have the record set straight.
U.S. citizens need to be able to hold their government to its principles, and Haitians need to know whether they can trust their oldest neighbor. Haiti’s coup had high costs in the U.S.: a spike in refugee flows challenged our immigration and homeland security systems; already overextended U.S. troops were stretched thinner by a three-month deployment in Haiti; and the ensuing chaos provided shelter to cocaine smugglers. Allegations of U.S. involvement in Haiti’s coup also hurt our international standing, at a time when the U.S. needs friends in the world. The doubts about U.S. actions in Haiti undermine our credibility when we claim that we are trying to establish democracy in Iraq, or criticize other governments as undemocratic.
The TRUTH Act, H.R. 351, is our best chance of establishing the truth about Haiti’s coup d’etat, and demonstrating to the world that we are serious about democracy. Please take this chance, and contact Aysha House-Moshi at Rep. Barbara Lee’s office, 202-225-2661, to sign on as a co-sponsor to H.R. 351.
For more information about the Half-Hour for Haiti Program, the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, or human rights in Haiti, see www.HaitiJustice.org. To receive Half-Hour for Haiti Action Alerts once per week, send an email to HalfHour4Haiti@ijdh.org.