Herald Staff Writer
Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., is accusing the U.S. Agency for International
Development of subsidizing witchcraft in Haiti -- and he wants it stopped.
Helms, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a Feb.
letter to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright that the committee had spent a lot
of time recently reviewing U.S. aid programs to Haiti in light of ``President [Rene]
Preval's most recent lurch backward toward dictatorship.''
He cited in particular some population control efforts of which, he said,
secret that these programs are far too often wrongheaded and wasteful.'' Still, he
added, ``if the administration insists on funding these programs I shall not stand in
the way so long as you agree to the following conditions'':
That no funds go to any affiliate of the International Planned Parenthood
Federation in Haiti, including the local PROFAMIL organization.
That no funds be provided ``directly or indirectly to any group whose programs
include producing material intended to be used in a voodoo ceremony.''
Helms cited as the basis for his concern a recent exchange between U.S.
the Foreign Relations Committee, in which AID was asked if it provided ``any
assistance to any group, like IPPF's affiliate PROFAMIL, which, according to
IPPF's 1995 Annual Report, undertook `a campaign to reach voodoo followers
with sexual and reproductive health information . . . by performing short
song-prayers about STDs [sexually transmitted diseases] and the benefits of family
planning during voodoo ceremonies.' ''
AID acknowledged providing $295,000 from April 1998 to March 1999 to
PROFAMIL. The agency said many AID ``partners and implementing
organizations use this important social network [voodoo ceremonies] as the
medium for disseminating health sector messages and information.''
That means, said Helms, that AID ``is funding programs that endorse or
what amounts to witchcraft.''
AID defended its family planning programs as ``very successful'' in what
hemisphere's most densely populated country but agreed to Helms' conditions.
Copyright © 1999 The Miami Herald