"The policies exist to realize the interests. Ambassador Roger Noriega mentioned that one of our interests is to defend human rights, but he didn’t mention the fundamental interest, which is to defend Miami Beach. We don’t want Haitians on Miami Beach and we have proven that very recently. That is a fundamental interest of the United States—no illegal immigrants. Now that you have realized that interest, you hopefully will have policies by which Haitians can realize their prosperity and their future at home. How do you do that? Well, we haven’t figured that out yet, have we?
"Now, what is the problem by which the United States can’t figure out what to do in Haiti? Part of the answer is that the issue has been turned over almost entirely to special interest groups . . . And unfortunately, the most active special interest is the Black Caucus which has produced the most astonishing nonsense relating to what’s going on in Haiti today. [applause.]
"Now, I am speaking as absolutely nonpolitically as I can. The focus is realizing U.S. interests in Haiti. In all this, where does the Haiti Democracy Project fit? . . . It’s a group designed to help America find a policy. It’s about time! Congratulations.
"I think that the seminars that the Haiti Democracy Project has in mind doing in an effort to spark a debate are probably the only thing that can be done. . . . We need a lot more focus in America on what’s going on in Haiti today. And I would hope that the Haiti Democracy Project is going to do that . . .
"I am delighted to be here tonight just to provoke what I hope will be some questions and see if we can try to move this issue a bit forward."
—From his address to the opening conference. This was Ambassador Carney's first public comment on Haiti since leaving the Foreign Service in 1999. He was U.S. ambassador to Haiti, 1998–99, 2005–2006; chairman of Haiti Democracy Project, 2002–2005; and was vice-president of the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund.
The Haiti Democracy Project was officially launched Tuesday, November 19, 2002 at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. The inaugural brought together over 120 guests and participants from the Haitian-American community of the Washington area, New York and Miami, along with members of the U.S. academic and foreign-policy communities.
James Morrell, executive director of the Haiti Democracy Project, formerly research director at the Center for International Policy, welcomed the participants and introduced the distinguished group of panelists. OAS assistant secretary-general Luigi R. Einaudi opened the talks with dire predictions that Haiti was fast approaching a point where diplomatic means would no longer contribute to solve the crisis. According to Einaudi, those concerned about Haiti should at this time be gathering for a “wake." The rapidly deteriorating economic situation, the inability of the main protagonists to advance the negotiating process and the increasing protest demonstrations throughout the country made for a very bleak future.
U.S. ambassador to the OAS Roger F. Noriega lamented the fact that throughout its history, the Haitian people had been consistently let down by a political class that subsisted on its conflicts. He pointed out that it was the responsibility of the international community to apply to Haiti the same democratic standards as other countries of this hemisphere. Ambassador Noriega insisted on the need to ensure that the Haitians got the democratic elections that they deserve: “We have to get them that opportunity as they will not participate in a farce.” He promised that the United States would pronounce itself very clearly on Haiti as it had given democracy a bad name in the past with confusing statements.
The next speaker, former U.S. ambassador to Haiti Timothy Carney, deplored the lack of a real policy debate in the United States on Haiti. He welcomed the HDP initiative as an opportunity to provoke a debate on what to do in Haiti in contrast to a policy that only really consisted of “keeping the Haitian refugees from the beaches of Miami.” Ambassador Carney criticized the Congressional Black Caucus "for producing the most astonishing nonsense on Haiti.” He was echoed by former Haitian ambassador to Washington Jean Casimir. Quick-fix approaches, e.g., Aristide plus Cedras divided by two or Fanmi Lavalas plus Convergence divided by two, amount to zero, in Casimir's words, and are doomed to failure in Haiti.
The other speakers, Amb. Orlando Marville, former chief of the OAS electoral mission in Haiti; Georges Fauriol, vice-president of the International Republican Institute; and Professor Robert Maguire all addressed Haiti’s chaotic politics and the failure of the international community’s approach in dealing with Haiti. Fauriol stressed the importance for HDP to go forward with honesty, discipline and perseverance.