OAKLAND – Supporters of the lifting of sanctions against the Republic of Haiti held the first of a series of weekly picketing and protest at the Federal Building here Jan. 3.

The vigil is aimed at calling attention to the Bush administration’s refusal to fund an approved loan that is desperately needed by the Haitian government to deal with urgent needs of the Haitian people.

In 2000, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) approved the granting of a $146 million loan to Haiti to be used for health care, education and public works. The Bush administration has vetoed the actual funding of the loan. As a result, the Haitian government has not received any part of the loan. However, Haiti has had to pay $10 million of interest to the IDB for the loan it has not received. The loan is part of a blocked total aid package of $500 million earmarked for Haiti by international financial institutions.

The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) and Bishop Thomas Gumbleton of Detroit have deplored the injustice of the denial of the loan. The CBC requested a meeting with President Bush to discuss the issue of aid to Haiti more than two months ago, but has yet to hear from the President.

The Haitian Action Committee, sponsor of the weekly vigils at the Federal Building, has called for letters and phone calls urging that all sanctions against the government of Haiti be lifted and the loans already approved be fully funded. Letters should be sent to President Bush, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Secretary of the Treasury Paul O’Neill and Senator Joseph Biden (D-Del.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.