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IRI Statement Responding to The New York Times Article “Mixed U.S. Signals Helped Tilt Haiti Toward Chaos”

January 29, 2006

Washington, DC – IRI issued the following statement in response to The New York Times article “Mixed U.S. Signals Helped Tilt Haiti Toward Chaos.”

“Walt Bogdanich’s piece (The New York Times 1/29/06) reads like a bad college thesis.  Bogdanich strings together disparate allegations to prove a hypothesis, repeatedly leaving out inconvenient contradictory information.

“The article’s core charge – that IRI in Haiti ‘undercut the official United States policy and the ambassador assigned to carry it out’ – is based on accusations by former U.S. Ambassador Brian Dean Curran.  The only support for Curran’s charge comes from former associates of ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and an accused death squad leader.  All are dubious sources, and all have ample motivation to criticize IRI.  Omitted from the article is any mention of Curran’s predecessors or successors as ambassador to Haiti, none of whom has criticized IRI’s work.  Moreover, none of Curran’s superiors – policymakers Otto Reich, Roger Noriega or Colin Powell – express any belief that IRI ‘undercut the official US policy,’ and none offer any criticism of the Institute’s work in Haiti.  In fact, for more than a decade, through both the Clinton and Bush Administrations, our work in Haiti has been judged sufficiently meritorious by the U.S. government that we have received funding to work there whenever we requested it.

“If a picture is worth a thousand words, these contradictions are best illustrated in one of the article’s accompanying photographs.  The photo, sent by IRI to The New York Times, showed three people: Lorne Craner, Stanley Lucas and then-U.S. Ambassador to Haiti Tim Carney (Curran’s predecessor).  During the event at which the picture was taken, Carney praised IRI and its work.  His words, sent to The New York Times, were omitted from the article.  Most disturbing, however, is that Carney himself was cropped from the picture before it ran – again, because his presence would have contradicted Bogdanich’s hypothesis.

We, in the United States, have prospered under democracy. And, we wish to share our democratic ideals with our neighbors and with other nations of the world. We realize that each nation is unique, but all nations can benefit from adapting the principles of democracy to their own society. This is why the International Republican Institute is here in Haiti-to work with local Haitian political leadership to help develop a strong, viable, pluralistic democratic society in the Republic of Haiti.
-Then U.S. Ambassador to Haiti Tim Carney, opening of the Political Party Training and Information Center in Petionville, Haiti, August 1998.

“IRI has many more examples of omitted information, which will be forwarded to The New York Times’ ombudsman.

“IRI did not undermine U.S. policy in Haiti. Nor, as a U.S. Agency for International Development Inspector General’s report showed, did we consort with rebels in President Aristide’s overthrow.  As Colin Powell has stated, Aristide was ‘a man who was democratically elected, but did not democratically govern, or govern well.  And he has to bear a large burden, if not the major burden, for what has happened.’

“The most disappointing thing about this article is that it will spur on the kind of events The New York Times has covered in the last few weeks – the shutdown of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in Russia and elsewhere.  It will be used by authoritarians overseas, from Robert Mugabe to Alexander Lukashenko to Islam Karimov, to justify expelling western human rights and democracy NGOs and to persecute those with whom they have been associated – brave souls who yearn for freedom.”