International Conference on Financing for Development
Department of Public Information - News and Media Services Division - New York
Monterrey, NL, Mexico
18-22 March 2002
22 March 2002


There could be no development in Haiti, and the people would continue to bear the brunt of the sanctions as long as economic sanctions imposed almost two years ago remained in place, Joseph Philippe Antonio, the country's Minister for Foreign Affairs, said at a press conference this evening.

Responding to correspondents' questions, Mr. Antonio said that Haiti's most urgent development needs included health care, education and unemployment. Ever since the freezing of aid -- following disputed elections in late 1999 -- the country had been in a political crisis that had serious social consequences for the people. The Government was awaiting the results of its efforts to convince its development partners that there could be no development, as long as aid remained frozen.

Asked what tangible results had emerged from talks with the opposition, the Minister said that for months since an attempted coup d'état on 17 September, the Government had negotiated with the opposition without success. However, it was trying to establish the conditions to resume talks. Haiti had invited missions from the Organization of American States (OAS), the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Inter-American Human Rights Centre to study the events of 17 September, including an armed attack on the presidential palace.

Recalling that Haiti's former dictatorship had been accused of pocketing money meant for development assistance, another journalist asked whether the present Government could make good use of aid money if it were released. Was the international community fair in imposing restrictions?

Mr. Antonio said he knew foreign aid had gone astray during the dictatorship, but the present Government was not its heir. The sanctions had been imposed for political reasons, and the institutions responsible should lift them. "It amounts to a certain kind of political pressure because cooperation cannot be frozen for political reasons", he added.

The Minister said there were honest leaders among the opposition who wanted to see an end to the crisis, and the Government was prepared to work with them. Just today, there had been an opposition political demonstration in Haiti during which the demonstrators had paid tribute to the police for ensuring security and safety.

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