Former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton visited Haiti on Monday in their roles as co-chairs of the US relief effort there. Dozens of Haitians took part in a protest in the capital Port-au-Prince to denounce the former presidents’ policies toward Haiti while in office. Bush cut off desperately needed aid to Haiti and backed the overthrow of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Bush’s father, former President George H.W. Bush, supported the first coup against Aristide in 1991. Clinton, meanwhile, helped restore Aristide, but only on condition that he accept harsh neoliberal reforms. Protester Elizabeth Pierre singled out Bush, who was making his first-ever visit to Haiti.
Elizabeth Pierre: “I hear that former President George Bush is here. I am asking President Clinton to excuse himself so I can talk to George Bush, because George Bush is President Aristide’s kidnapper.”
On Monday, Clinton said he and Bush discussed Haiti’s reconstruction needs and pledged to seek congressional backing for a law granting trade preferences to Haitian products.
Bill Clinton: “We spent most of our time talking today about what needs to be done now so that the economic plan and the donor conference to be held at the end of this month has a chance to work. So we pledged to do what we could to get the changes adopted by Congress that would enable you to make maximum use of this law, and I think could create more than 100,000 jobs in Haiti in short order.”