THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release October 23, 1993
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
TO THE POOL
The South Grounds
THE PRESIDENT: I wanted to give you what I think is a
more precise answer to your question. I was, of course, aware of the
allegations -- they were reported today in the press. But the
question of whether he was fit to serve seems to me was reinforced by
the personal experience that Ambassador Pezzullo, my special envoy,
on the subject had, plus everyone else in the administration in
working with him, plus the fact that during the time when he served
as president, political terrorism and abuses went down in Haiti, not
So based on the personal experiences of the people in
the administration who worked with President Aristide, we felt that
they were a more valid indicator than the allegations that were
Q Mr. President, you aren't saying the allegations
THE PRESIDENT: No one knows whether they're true or
not. They were allegations. We don't know if they were true or not.
But there was -- I'm just saying based on the personal experiences of
a lot of people in this government had to -- and before me even,
before I became President, we had sustained experience -- that the
experiences of the people who were working with Aristide, plus what
is the evidence that we have at least of the conduct of the
administration when he was in office, tended to undermine those
Q What sort of credibility does the CIA report have
then, the one that's been circulated on the Hill?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, all they did -- they were required
to do what they had to do, which is to report whatever information
they'd been given. And the CIA would be the first to tell you that
they get a lot of information -- it's not -- it's not always accurate
and it's not always --. But they have to give what they have to the
intelligence committees, just as they do to the President. That's
Q Well, Mr. President, what do you think it's going
to take for this to go away as far as the public is concerned and
even Capitol Hill?
THE PRESIDENT: What do you mean, for what to go away?
Q For this whole issue about his mental stability and
his mental --
Q Jesse Helms says he's psychotic and --
THE PRESIDENT: Well, but you know -- some of those
guys, they like the government they got, I think. Sometimes some of
the opposition here may come from people who were satisfied with this
whole sad recent history of Haiti. What's their alternative?
We have -- we tried to find a political solution which
basically would allow all -- allow democracy to return to Haiti and
which have a guarantee of a more stable government by bringing in Mr.
Malval, whom everybody admits was a nonpolitical business person,
someone who had the best interest of his people at heart, and other
people who could be real stabilizing factors. The security and
personal safety of the leaders of the army and the police were
guaranteed. The Governors Island agreement provided for French-
speaking forces to go in and retrain the police force to make them a
real police instead of an instrument of political oppression, and for
French-speaking Canadians in the United States to send in people who
could in effect convert the army into an army corps of engineers,
help them rebuild the country. And they're not seriously threatened
--. So I think that -- and all those steps were supported by
So when you look at the record, and you look at -- I
would remind you -- you look at the threat that we were all facing,
that we continue to face, the previous administration faced from
people trying to get on their boats and come to the United States,
hundreds of whom have drowned in the effort. It would seem to me to
-- and the clear evidence that the -- at least for as long as I have
been President -- that the hope of a return to democracy and
Aristide's return was the biggest incentive for the Haitian people to
I think that we have done the right thing with our
policy. We always knew there was a chance that the forces of
reaction in Haiti would break the deal, but -- or people in this
country to try to justify the abrogation of the Governors Island
agreement based on what are now very old charges that have very
little to do with the government that's operating there or with the
actions of the last nine months, I think is not very persuasive.
Q The blockade now, according to a missionary, a
British missionary, quoted yesterday as saying the blockade is
actually hurting the people of Haiti more than it is the regime
THE PRESIDENT: It always hurts the people first. The
regime has access to monopolies and they have lots of money. But the
blockade is what got the Governors Island agreement going -- blockade
finally hit the regime and the elites. And in the end, they
suffered, too. And there are a lot of the -- I think even a lot of
people that have some money there must be worried about the conduct
of the police and some of the military -- in the last few weeks.
Q How long do you think it's going to take for it to
THE PRESIDENT: I don't have any idea. I don't know.
But I just know that the -- that poor country has been plundered on
and off for nearly 200 years now. And the people finally thought
they were going to get a shot at democracy, a chance to be embraced
into the world community. It's probably the most environmentally
devastated nation at least in this hemisphere. And there are a lot
of real opportunities for the people to return to a normal life and
for even -- for all the people in the army and the police to find
some reconciliation in a legitimate and lawful society. It's very
But I would remind you that -- with regard to the
embargo, the sanctions, that's what we were asked to do by the
government of Haiti. The government supported the return of the
sanctions. But I imagine that it must be very discouraging to the
people -- they thought they were on the brink of having a normal
government, a normal life, free of corruption and oppression, and
it's frustrating to them.
I know what people are saying about Aristide -- you
could look at the alternatives. And we have to go based on the
evidence -- the conduct of people. And so far we have no -- he's
done everything he said he would do. And he's been more than willing
to reach out to others. And he made strict guarantees as to the
security of the -- that his former opponents, something that they
weren't willing to do, and certainly something they haven't
practiced. And we even said if -- the whole U.N. process was set up
to reinforce that.
Q Having said that about Mr. Aristide, is there a
compromise candidate somewhere, someone who may not be Mr. Aristide
but who may be a compromise with the regime there now to normalize
things in Haiti?
THE PRESIDENT: Our position is what our position is
right now. Our position is we have sanctions on because the
Governors Island agreement was violated. They have a -- and he was
elected to a term of office. And that's my position.
Q When do you think Aristide may be back in Haiti?
When might you get him back in there?
THE PRESIDENT: I was hoping he'd be back on October --
like I said, that country has suffered a long time. And the people
there -- we've seen a lot of evidence, even from Haitian Americans
that the people there do not want to leave. And a lot of people who
live elsewhere might go home if they just had a decent place to go
home to, if they didn't have to worry about being beat up or bribed
or oppressed, have a real decent chance to make a living. And that's
what the world community, that's what the countries in this
hemisphere wanted to help Haiti achieve. And it's unfortunate that
the people down there decided they'd rather keep a stranglehold on a
shrinking future than play a legitimate part of an expanding future.
That's a decision they're going to have to make.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
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