Rene Preval and Relationship with United States

Former President René Préval's dealings with the United States began with great promise. He had made the US one of his first visits after winning the 2006 elections, and was quickly congratulated by President George Bush upon his reelection. In the States, the presidential meeting was thought to be fortuitous of the relationship between the two countries under Préval's administration.

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Then René Préval surprised them. A series of cables from the US Embassy, made available to Haitian press by WikiLeaks, show that initially, Préval's offense was his dealings with Venezuela and Cuba, a circumstance the US hadn't anticipated after Préval's actions to reassure them. US Ambassador Janet Sanderson took umbrage to perceived shows of 'independence or contrariness', shown by Préval in his dealings with Ugo Chavez. This was exacerbated by Préval's signing the Venezuelan PetroCaribe alliance, a coup with considerable benefits to Haiti, including the estimated $100 million the government would save per year. Washington had made it plain they would not support a Haitian oil deal with Venezuela.

It wasn't a slick transition, getting Venezuelan oil into Haiti. Met at every turn by US opposition, like in the plan of using the power company EDH to receive the oil in the absence of a state owned oil company, Haiti received its first shipment and, after the ratification of the deal, announced that it intended to meet all of Haiti's demand for oil through this agreement. This decision was heavily criticized by Sanderson in another cable.

Efforts to sabotage the deal included, under Sanderson's encouragement, boycotting by absence a meeting with Venezuelan representatives by Haiti's four oil companies, and complaints varying from concerns about the domestic and regional (via a Cuban company) transporting of the oil and the US/Cuban embargo. US oil companies Chevron and ExxonMobil refused to comply with the order to purchase PetroCaribe oil from the government.

Préval himself has since been boycotted by the US. After the earthquake, he was criticized by Americans, including Senator Dick Lugar about his leadership during the crisis. Also, through virulent intervention, Préval's party's candidate was ousted from the last presidential run-off, a play which locked in a favorable candidate in Michel Martelly for the US's interests.

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Read more: rene preval, United States, Cuba, EDH, Wikileaks, Venezuela, Oil, Hugo Chavez, PetroCaribe, Exxon-Mobil, Janet Sanderson, Sabotage, Preval - International, George Bush, International

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