WASHINGTON — The State Department called on the Haitian government Tuesday to take "dramatic and credible steps" aimed at punishing those responsible for the terror campaign that led to the postponement of national elections Sunday.
Department spokesman Charles Redman renewed the U.S. call for a restoration of democratic processes in Haiti, and he held out the possibility that the Organization of American States may issue a similar appeal.
He also issued a travel advisory, urging Americans to cancel all non-essential travel to Haiti and advising those who must visit there to exercise caution and register with U.S. consular authorities on arrival.
The State Department made public figures showing that the United States is suspending $62 million in economic aid to Haiti, pending a restoration of order there, and has canceled plans to ask Congress for another $4 million in military assistance for the Haitian ruling council, led by Lt. Gen. Henri Namphy.
Another $32 million in humanitarian and food aid will be permitted to go to Haiti, the department said.
Redman's appeal to Haitian authorities was unusually blunt and went beyond prior statements by the Administration.
"We remain deeply distressed and saddened by the events that occurred there," he said. "The will of the Haitian people to establish democracy was thwarted by violence.
"The failure of the Haitian government to protect innocent civilians attempting to vote was extremely disappointing. And the dismantling of the electoral authority was unjustified.
"It is now incumbent on the government to take dramatic and credible steps to demonstrate that it has the will and the ability to arrest, prosecute and punish those who struck this blow against democracy," Redman said.
Redman said there is no plan for use of U.S. military forces in Haiti but that consultations are being carried out with other members of the Organization of American States, whose membership includes virtually every independent government in the Western Hemisphere.
He raised the possibility that it might be "appropriate" for the OAS to take a stand in support of democracy in Haiti.