May 21, 2004
Band together to help Haiti – Maisto

The Caribbean must band together to help Haiti get over this difficult time.
This is the view of Ambassador John F Maisto, United States permanent representative to the Organisation of American States (OAS).{{more}}
Maisto was speaking last Tuesday via tele-conference from the United States Embassy in Bridgetown, Barbados, to a contingent of regional journalists at the Fort Young Hotel in Roseau, Dominica. The journalists were part of a five-day print journalism-training workshop sponsored by the US Embassy, which ended Friday, May 14.
“Haiti is the poorest country in the hemisphere and in Caricom,” said Maisto. He said there was a corruption problem in that country that “manifested during the previous government”, of ousted President Jean Bertrand Aristide.
Aristide, who was democratically elected, left power in controversial circumstances in February after he claimed he was forcibly removed from office by American authorities.
“The police force was corrupted and Haiti is now in the process of rebuilding its police force with a lot of international help, which comes from countries that include the United States,” Maisto said.
Maisto, who has been ambassador to the OAS since March 25, 2003, said Haiti now has a transition government consisting of technocrats who are preparing the way for an election in Haiti in 2005.
He said Haiti needs a lot of assistance to strengthen the rule of law, to strengthen its judiciary and to pay police a decent salary, among other things.
Maisto said that one of the major problems in Haiti stems from its role in the trans-shipment of illegal drugs. He said it is estimated that six per cent of the cocaine consumed in the US travels through Haiti, which is the poorest country in the Caribbean and is also being devastated by HIV/AIDS.
The US ambassador said the US government has provided Haiti with US$100 million in aid and 1,600 troops in an effort to end corruption and put Haiti on the path of good governance.
He also touched on other topics, including the Summit of the Americas Process and the Free Trade Areas of the Americas (FTAA).