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January 22, 2007

Dear Friend:

I traveled to Haiti earlier this month to meet with President Preval and others in his administration. During my visit, we discussed various matters of concern not only to the Haitian-American community, but also to Haiti's neighbors.

President Preval faces many challenges, but he seems determined to tackle Haiti’s toughest problems, including the corruption that is all around him. He must root it out before democracy can flourish in Haiti.

The president is joined in this anti-corruption effort by the director general of the Haitian National Police, who has a comprehensive plan to vet all 7,000 members of his force. It is an ambitious goal, but it's important so there can be consistent enforcement of the law in Haiti and a means to combat the pervasive drug trafficking that poses such significant security risks to the island and its neighbors, including the United States.

Also regarding security, President Preval told me that the United Nations' peacekeeping troops that have been on the island as part of the mission to stabilize Haiti will remain there for at least another year. These troops are sharing resources and coordinating with the National Police to provide safety and security for all the residents of the island.

Regarding economic development, an estimated 30,000 jobs in the textile mills will be coming on line because of favorable trade provisions in the HOPE Act Congress passed last year. I urged President Preval to move quickly through the certification process so that Haiti can see the benefits of this legislation.

We all know Haiti has desperate needs in health care, desperate needs in infrastructure, and desperate needs in education. But I was reminded again and again during my visit of the tenacity of the Haitian people. They are ingenious, industrious, and entrepreneurial. President Preval expressed his desire for Haitians living outside their homeland to come home and join him in rebuilding Haiti's economy and government.

Please feel free to share this news with your friends and colleagues who share our commitment to Haiti and its people.

Sincerely,

Bill Nelson
U.S. Senator