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Context of 'April 20-22, 2001: Organization of American States Comes to Agreement on Free-Trade Area'

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With the exception of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, 34 heads of state attending the Organization of American States (OAS) summit, pledge to direct their “Ministers to ensure that negotiations of the FTAA [Free Trade Area of Americas] Agreement are concluded no later than January 2005 and to seek its entry into force as soon as possible thereafter, but in any case, no later than December 2005.” (Stevens 4/18/2001; Andean Community 4/22/2001; Haiti Weekly News 5/2/2001) According to an unnamed senior offical at the US State Department, the declaration also lays the groundwork for creating a legal pretext for blocking aid to countries. (US Congress 7/15/2003 pdf file; Farmer 4/15/2004) The section of the declaration discussing the OAS’s commitment to democracy reads: “… any unconstitutional alteration or interruption of the democratic order in a state of the Hemisphere constitutes an insurmountable obstacle to the participation of that state’s government in the Summit of the Americas process….To enhance our ability to respond to these threats, we instruct our Foreign Ministers to prepare, in the framework of the next General Assembly of the OAS, an Inter-American Democratic Charter to reinforce OAS instruments for the active defense of representative democracy.” (Andean Community 4/22/2001; Ives and Dunkel 4/25/2001) During the summit, before the final declaration is made, Haiti is singled out as the region’s problem democracy. “Democracy in certain countries is still fragile,” Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien says, “We are particularly concerned about the case of Haiti. We note the problems which continue to limit the democratic, political, economic, and social development of this country.” (Ives and Dunkel 4/25/2001) Press reports note the ant-Aristide atmosphere. The BBC reports, “Correspondents say the presence of Mr. Aristide at the summit has been an embarrassment to some of the leaders, who agreed that only democratic countries would be included in the Free Trade Zone of the Americas.” (BBC 4/22/2001) The New York Post similarly recounts, “Diplomats said the expressions of concern about Haiti were to make sure that Aristide can’t use his presence at the summit… to claim he has international support.” (Orin 4/23/2001) And according to Reuters, “the Summit decided to comment on Haiti because leaders did not want Aristide to return home in triumph.” (Orin 4/23/2001; Ives and Dunkel 4/25/2001)

Roger Noriega, a Kansas native of Mexican descent and fervent critic of Latin American leaders Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, and Jean-Bertrand Aristide, is appointed US Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States. (Howell 3/1/2004; Inter-American Development Bank 12/31/2005 pdf file)

Trinidad Foreign Affairs Minister Knowlson Gift announces that the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) has requested that the Organization of American States (OAS) investigate the February 29 removal (see February 28, 2004-March 1, 2004) of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. (Associated Press 5/6/2004; Associated Press 5/6/2004)


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