For Release: April 7, 2004
Contact: David Almasi at (202) 507-6398 x106
Black Groups Call for Investigation of Congressional Black Caucus Details of Black Lawmakers' Relationship with Deposed Haitian Leader Sought
In response to actions and comments by members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) regarding American policy toward Haiti, the African-American leadership network Project 21 endorsed a letter to Chairman Joel Hefley (R-CO) asking the U.S. House of Representative's Committee on Standards of Official Conduct to conduct a formal investigation of the CBC.
The letter was originally sent on April 1, 2004 by the Brotherhood Organization for a New Destiny, a family-focused, community-based organization in Los Angeles, California founded by Project 21 member Reverend Jesse Lee Peterson.
The call for an investigation comes after members of the CBC alleged the Bush Administration forced Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide from office and called Undersecretary of State Roger Noriega a "Haiti-hater." Additionally, the letter to Chairman Hefley calls attention to the CBC's apparent close relationship to the former Aristide regime that included several member trips to the island, former members lobbying of behalf of the regime and recent appearances abroad with the deposed Aristide.
The letter to Hefley states: "We are seriously concerned about the inflammatory language and tone of [the CBC's] accusations. By misinterpreting the truth about what happened in the last few hours before [former Haitian president] Aristide left office, these lawmakers are inciting hatred, suspicion and possibly violence towards the White House, State Department officials and the new administration in Haiti."
Reverend Peterson adds: "It's disturbing that the Congressional Black Caucus is backing a corrupt and brutal man like Aristide. Over the past decade, the United States sent nearly $1 billion in aid to Haiti, yet it is still the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Why are black lawmakers up in arms over the removal of this dictator?"
In particular, the request for an investigation asks for the Committee to determine the exact nature of the relationship between Aristide and the CBC and if current and former members of the CBC, their families or associates have a financial or political interest in the continuation of the Aristide regime.
Project 21 has been a leading voice of the African-American community since 1992. For more information, contact David Almasi at (202) 507-6398 x106 or Project21@nationalcenter.org, or visit Project 21's website at http://www.project21.org/P21Index.html.
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