By Candia Dames
The United States� foreign policy as it regards Haiti needs to be overhauled, according to Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who was the special guest on the JCN programme “Jones and Company”, which aired Sunday.
“I think the first thing we all have to do is recognize that Haiti is the poorest in the hemisphere and they need help, and Haiti has been exploited for far too long by too many and I think we can include in all of that Canada, France, the United States etc.,” Congresswoman Waters said.
“It has always been seen as a place where someone else can make money off the backs of the people and it has always been supported by major powers in ways that would allow dictators to keep their feet on the necks of the people while other people make money through exports, imports etc.”
She said the United States needs a “well intentioned” foreign policy for Haiti that would help the country.
“What we need to do is support Haiti getting its government together, training and development and putting its institutions in place,” she said.
“They have to have the court system; they have to have the criminal justice system; they have to have the support for their elections � all of that. Then we have to support rebuilding that infrastructure�and education.”
Congresswoman Waters said failure to pay greater attention to Haiti and its needs would mean greater immigration problems for The Bahamas and the United States.
“I think it�s incumbent upon all of us to do that because if we don�t people are going to be fleeing Haiti, looking for what people look for when they don�t have food to eat, they don�t have decent places to live; They�re going to come to The Bahamas; they�re going to try and get into the United States,” she said.
“Our policy is not good on Haiti�We have a policy for Cuba that allows Cubans to come into the United States if they put one foot on dry land, but the Haitians are turned back, as you know.”
The show�s host, Wendall Jones, suggested that this policy was discriminatory and Congresswoman Waters agreed.
“We need to have a policy that would help Haitians to stay in Haiti because we�re helping to develop Haiti and making it a place where Haitians want to live, and it�s going to take a lot of work,” she said.
Congresswoman Waters again expressed regret that Jean Bertrand Aristide � Haiti�s (former) democratically elected president � was overthrown during a rebellion in February 2004.
“People would argue about whether they like the way Mr. Aristide managed his country, but he was elected by the people,” she said. “He was a priest that came with the liberation theology. He was a person that spoke to the people in ways that they had never been spoken to before. He spoke their language. And so, he was a threat to the way things have always been.”
Mr. Jones pointed out that some Haitians would argue that Mr. Aristide was also oppressive.
Congresswoman Waters acknowledged that this is what some people would say.
But she said, “We have to respect that Mr. Aristide was elected by the people. He had the biggest political support that poor people had ever had in Haiti for a president. Lavalas (his party) was real.
“If in fact Mr. Aristide was not doing what the people wanted it was incumbent upon the people to not re-elect him, to form political parties that would oust the Lavalas-elected president. That�s what democracy is all about�democracy at work is what we all hope for.”