Cablegate: A/S Shannon's November 30, 2006 Meeting with Haitian Pm

DE RUEHMD #2993/01 3381309
O 041309Z DEC 06





E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: A/S Shannon's November 30, 2006 meeting with Haitian PM

Ref: Port-au-Prince 2273

1. (U) November 30, 2006; 11:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m.; Intercontinental
Hotel, Madrid, Spain.

2. (U) Participants:

WHA A/S Thomas A. Shannon
USAID LAC A/A Adolfo Franco
WHA/CAR Director Brian A. Nichols (notetaker)
Stephanie Ragals, Interpreter

Prime Minister Jacques-Edouard Alexis
Foreign Minister Jean Raynald Clerisme
Gabrielle Verret, Economic Advisor to the President
Yolette Azor-Charles, Ambassador to Spain

3. (SBU) SUMMARY. WHA A/S Shannon underscored the strong U.S
financial and political commitment to Haiti's democratic transition
to Haitian PM Alexis. Shannon explained the importance of
completing the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti's (MINUSTAH)
transition from providing electoral security to creating a secure
environment for development. He encouraged Alexis to deal firmly
with security problems to lay the groundwork for growth. USAID LAC
A/A Franco offered that the U.S. would sign and implement an $81
million, five-year jobs program in December. PM Alexis welcomed
U.S. assistance and participation in the Madrid Donors Conference.
He cited improved governance and better security as his top
priorities. He noted limited progress developing the police and
disarming gangs. The Prime Minister complained that the GOH lacked
the resources to reintegrate U.S. criminal deportees, and sought
assistance to create targeted programs for them. Shannon and Franco
stressed the U.S. legal requirement to expel criminal aliens and
judged that donors and the GOH should address the deportee issue
within the context of broader Administration of Justice reform.
Presidential advisor Gabriel Verret sought U.S. help with the World
Bank (WB) and Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to ensure recent
debt relief results in greater grant assistance to Haiti. Shannon
and Franco encouraged the GOH to focus on improving the things
within the GOH's control to facilitate investment, such as security
and fighting corruption, rather than simply waiting for the possible
passage of textile trade preference legislation in the U.S. END


4. (SBU) WHA A/S Shannon and USAID LAC A/A Franco called on Haitian
Prime Minister Alexis on the margins of the Madrid Donors Conference
for Haiti's Economic and Social Development on November 30. PM
Alexis opened the meeting by thanking Shannon and Franco for
attending the International Conference. PM Alexis considered the
conference an excellent opportunity for the international community
to recap the progress made since the Port-au-Prince meeting and plan
the way forward. International Monetary Fund (IMF) and IDB meetings
the previous week that Haiti qualified for Heavily Indebted Poor
Countries (HIPC) debt relief represented real progress. Alexis
stressed that the international community and the Haitian government
must demonstrate tangible progress in Haiti. The Haitian people are
quite patient, but that patience has neared its end and they want to
see progress, especially on crime and security issues. The GOH has
made progress on some of President Preval's priorities, but more
remains ahead on his priority Social Appeasement Program. Alexis
lamented that each donor approached assistance in a slightly
different way, using different processes and metrics. Finding a
more effective way to manage assistance and donor cooperation
represented the GOH's ultimate goal in Madrid.

U.S. Assistance

5. (SBU) A/S Shannon replied that his and A/A Franco's presence in
Madrid demonstrated the USG's political and financial commitment to
take concrete measure to improve the situation in Haiti. The United
States constantly sought ways to improve donor coordination and to
ensure that Haitians feel the impact of our aid. Since President
Preval's February election, the USG has encouraged donors to pursue
several tracks. MINUSTAH has begun to change its focus from
security for a successful election to facilitating security for

MADRID 00000000 002 OF 002

development. That process will come to fruition after the December
3 local and municipal elections in Haiti. He continued that the USG
has pressed donors to disburse more rapidly, noting that the U.S.
had disbursed more than any other bilateral donor. A/A Franco
amplified the point, stating the USG had disbursed over $467 million
of the $600 million allocated to Haiti since 2004. The U.S.
Ambassador to Haiti will sign an agreement with the Prime Minister
to implement an $81 million, five-year jobs program in mid-December.
A/S Shannon explained that the U.S. had also worked to promote
domestic and foreign investment in Haiti. The world cannot approach
Haiti as business as usual.

Gangs, Security and Criminal Deportees

6. (SBU) Alexis acknowledged Haiti's institutional weakness and
widespread corruption as major obstacles to development. Calling
governance his top concern, Alexis said the GOH must combat
impunity, overcome problems with the Haitian National Police (HNP),
and improve the justice sector. The GOH has had positive results
fighting gangs, about 100 have entered reintegration programs and
some have given up guns. Shannon urged the Prime Minister to
redouble GOH efforts, in concert with MINUSTAH, to improve the
security situation and deal with armed gangs. Recalling a recent
gruesome kidnapping and murder (reftel), Alexis asserted that
criminals deported from the U.S. and Canada contributed
significantly to crime and had joined kidnapping rings in
Port-au-Prince. Alexis recognized that the GOH could not refuse to
accept the deportees. He asked for U.S. assistance to create a
reintegration program for deportees, including "one or two prisons
or maybe a halfway house." A/S Shannon recalled similar concerns
expressed by others in Central America and the Caribbean and
stressed that the USG had a legal requirement to expel criminal
aliens upon the completion of their sentence. A/A Franco joined
Shannon in expressing sympathy for the difficult of the crime
problem in Haiti, but noting that criminal deportees formed only one
small part of a much large phenomenon that the GOH and donors should
address as part of a large effort to improve the administration of

Budget Support and HOPE

7. (SBU) Economic Advisor Verret expressed concern that the $7
million in U.S. budget support focused on education arrived late in
the Haitian fiscal year. A/A Franco said the USG would again
provide line item budget support for school supplies. Turning to
debt relief, Verret opined that IDB debt relief as part of the U.S.
initiative to eliminate debt for the poorest countries in Latin
America and the Caribbean (including Haiti) might translate into
only $30 million in grant assistance plus an additional $15 million
in loans annually, less than its Haiti's current IDB assistance.
Similarly, despite HIPC, the World Bank (WB) might limit Haiti's
grant aid due to its low country performance criteria. Verret
summed up the problem as the possibility that the two leading donors
to Preval's stated assistance priorities, roads and education, could
reduce their assistance significantly. A/A Franco replied that
those within the IDB and WB, who work on Haiti, understood the
problem and were working to resolve it. The USG would take its cue
from them and follow up at more senior levels if necessary.

8. (SBU) Verret expressed guarded optimism that the U.S. Congress
would pass the Haiti Opportunity through Partnership Empowerment act
(HOPE) textile trade preference bill. Verret noted that President
Preval remained willing to travel to Washington to lobby for HOPE's
passage. Shannon and Franco strongly encouraged the GOH to focus on
the things under its control to improve the investment climate, such
as security and more efficient government operations. They noted
that the Congress' legislative agenda remained uncertain, during the
lame duck session.


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