Interview With Wendell Theodore of Radio Metropole
Secretary of State
QUESTION: Mrs. Secretary of State, thank you for answering my questions. Several political parties and organizations have accused the U.S. Government of exerting unfair pressure on Haiti on government and electoral council to (inaudible) the OAS recommendations. And as a matter of fact, some visas have been revocated, and there will be also (inaudible) to cut aid to the country. What is your reaction to those accusations?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, it’s regrettable that for political purposes anyone would make such accusations. I’m here to show solidarity with the Haitian people, to reaffirm our commitment to Haiti’s reconstruction and development, and to speak out for the right of Haitians to have their voices and their votes heard and respected.
I think the post-election crisis that must be resolved in order for Haiti to move forward is a decision that must be left to the Haitian people. But the Haitian Government asked the OAS, an independent group, to bring technical experts to Haiti to analyze the vote. And they made their recommendations, which we and the entire international community – Canada, Brazil, France, the United Nations, the European Union – everyone who looked at it agrees with the soundness of the OAS.
So I would hope that the efforts by the international community to help Haiti’s democracy develop and to help Haiti deal with the challenges of the earthquake and poverty would be viewed as an effort genuinely to give a better life to the people of Haiti.
With respect to the visa issue, I cannot comment on any individual visa. But I can say that when credible information is presented about a person’s connection with their home country or information about violence or fraud or other matters of concern, there are legal requirements that have to be followed in our country.
QUESTION: Secretary of State, you have met (inaudible) elections. What came out of the meeting? Can people expect a quick resolution (inaudible)?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I wanted to meet with the three leading candidates to hear for myself what they thought was the best way forward. Again, this is a decision that must be made by Haitians, not by the international community. But I do think it’s important that whatever decision is made reflect the will of the majority of Haitian voters. And we are hoping that that will be the decision.
QUESTION: President Preval has announced that he will not leave office on February 7 as it is prescribed by the constitution but will remain in office until May 14. In light of this, what is the U.S. position in regard to this?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, the United States is advised by Haitian experts that there are certain requirements in the constitution. But decisions, according to the law and constitution of Haiti, must be left up to Haitians to decide. What is important is that there be a peaceful, orderly transition from President Preval to whomever is the next president. The Haitian people deserve that. They need a new president to be chosen so that the work can continue.
QUESTION: How does the U.S. react to the return of Jean-Claude Duvalier, and your reaction to the possibility of Aristide’s return to Haiti?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we don’t know why President Duvalier came back. We know that the people of Haiti have outstanding grievances that may require action in the courts of law, but that is up to Haiti. We want to support what the Haitian Government and the people decide to do. And I don’t know what, if any, plans President Aristide has.
QUESTION: Last question?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.
QUESTION: Okay. At the highest level, three former U.S. presidents have engaged in reconstruction aid for Haiti. What has become of this commitment?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, the commitment is very strong. And I can speak for my husband; he is absolutely committed. The last time he was here, about two weeks ago, he announced projects that could employ 20,000 Haitians or more. But there needs to be a government and there needs to be stability in that government for a former president, for the international community, to really be a good partner, which is why we hope that there will be a resolution of the election soon.
QUESTION: Thank you very much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much. It’s good to talk to you.