For Immediate Release May 10,
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESS CONFERENCE WITH
PRESIDENT CLINTON AND THE CARIBBEAN LEADERS
Prime Minister's Residence
1:33 P.M. (L)
PRIME MINISTER ARTHUR: Mr. Chairman, President of the
States of America, fellow Caribbean heads of state and government,
General of CARICOM, distinguished delegates, members of the press:
should like to say that my wife and I are pleased that you could find it
possible to come to share the residence with us. It is my pleasure to
you that the just concluded Caribbean-United States Summit has been a
The signing of the Declaration of Principles is tangible
expression of the new partnership between the Caribbean states and the
government and the people of the United States of America. Equally
is a plan of action which gives concrete expression to the commitment of
Caribbean states and the United States of America to cooperate on trade
development, finance and the environment, as well as on justice and security.
The summit has afforded our region the opportunity to
as one its perspectives on several concerns which we share with the
States of America. History and shared traditions already unite us. As
technology and globalization bring us closer together, it is inevitable
meetings of this type will be necessary to share perspectives, coordinate
actions and to find solutions to common problems.
On this historic occasion, we have been able to take a
detailed review and analysis of critical aspects of the relationship
the Caribbean nations and the United States of America. We have also
able to lay the foundations for future cooperation and consultation.
This summit is but the first step in a process of
and redefining a partnership between our two societies. We have come a
way in a short time from our first meeting at Sam Lord's Castle through
meeting of the working groups and subcommittee in Tobago and St. Lucia,
just concluded summit at Sherburne and here at Ilaro Court.
Through these discussions, Mr. President, your Special
Mr. Richard Clark, has been a valuable and critical advocate in advancing
discussions. (Applause.) The need for an accessible contact between us
cannot be overstated . It is my hope that any arrangement of this
would not end with the summit activities, but will continue to allow
consultations between the governments of the Caribbean and United States
In the preparatory stages for the summit, the states
of the Caribbean have been ably represented by the Foreign
Minister Ralph Maraj of Trinidad and Tobago -- (applause) --
Foreign Minister, Mr. Rohee of Guyana -- (applause) -- Attorney
General David Simmons of Barbados -- (applause) -- and Ambassador
Richard Bernal of Jamaica. (Applause.) I wish to place on
record as well our appreciation for the magnificent contribution
of the Secretary General of CARICOM and his staff and the
Barbados is proud and honored to host this summit,
the first of its kind between the Caribbean states and the
government of the United States of America. I am confident that
history will recall this summit as having forged a new and a
lasting bond between the people of our nations and those of the
United States of America. It is in this spirit, therefore, that
I now have the greatest pleasure in introducing the Prime
Minister of Jamaica, the Right Honorable P.J. Patterson, Chairman
of the Conference of Heads of Governments of the Caribbean
Community to address you. I thank you.
PRIME MINISTER PATTERSON: President of the United
States of America, Haiti, Suriname and Guyana, colleague heads of
government, ladies and gentlemen: In the closest of families,
difficulties are bound to arise from time to time in their
relationships. For those relationships to endure, it is
essential that they must have the capacity from time to time to
meet within the bosom of the family and to sort out whatever
difficulties may have arisen.
Today is one such occasion. And as a result of the
family meeting we have had among all the nations that are a part
of the Caribbean, including the United States, we have agreed to
chart a course that will enable us to move forward and together
in the days ahead.
We have discussed matters relating to democracy,
development and security, recognizing the considerable
interlinkages which necessarily exist between all these important
Today we have signed the Bridgetown Declaration and
a plan of action which charts a course for progress and for unity
and for integrated development within our region. We were very
pleased at the firm and unequivocal commitment given by the
President of the United State and his administration at the
priority which is to be attached to the question of NAFTA parity.
And we are pleased at the prospect of that legislation being
presented to the consideration of the Congress of the United
States and will do everything in our power to make
representations that will ensure its favorable consideration and
Not surprisingly, we spent some time on the issue of
bananas. And I have the authority of the Prime Minister of St.
Lucia, Dr. Vaughn Lewis, to quote something he said to us today:
"For many of our countries, bananas is to us what cars are to
Here in Bridgetown, we have reaffirmed our resolve
to fight crime, violence, corruption, trafficking in drugs and
illegal weapons by a seamless alliance between the United States
of America and the sovereign nations of the Caribbean. We cannot
allow the drug cartels and international criminal organizations
operating in or across our borders to threaten our democratic
institutions to pervert our system of justice and destroy the
health and well-being of our citizens, young or old.
We have also raised the need if we are to be engaged
in partnership for there to be a process of collective evaluation
and decision-making, rather than unilateral assessments. And we
have established some machinery that will enable us to facilitate
We are committed to the notion of a trans-Caribbean
community which would embrace all the countries washed by the
Caribbean Sea. This we see as a major plank in the new
partnership which today's summit is intended to forge between the
sovereign nations and the United States. We see here in
Bridgetown the opening of a new chapter, the start of a
meaningful dialogue. It was good for us to be here and,
together, we intend to do it the Caribbean way. (Applause.)
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Good afternoon. Prime Minister
Arthur, Prime Minister Patterson, fellow Caribbean leaders. Let
me begin by thanking our Barbadian hosts for their hospitality
and all the leaders for their hard work in making this summit a
I'm honored to be here with the Secretary of State
and several members of my Cabinet, as well as a distinguished
delegation, interested in the Caribbeans, -- from the Congress,
Congresswoman Maxine Waters, the Chairman of the Congressional
Black Caucus, and Congressman Carlos Romero Barcello, the
delegate from Puerto Rico, and Governor Roy Schneider from the
The Partnership for Prosperity and Security in the
Caribbean that we signed today is a broad and ambitious plan of
action. It can make a real difference for our people's lives and
livelihoods, promoting open and fair trade, protecting the
environment, strengthening education, spreading
telecommunications, extending loans to small businesses and
combatting international crime and drug-trafficking.
Just as important as the commitments we've made is
our determination to see them through with an ongoing intensified
process of Caribbean cooperation. The follow-up structures we've
put in place, including an annual meeting among our foreign
ministers and high-level working groups on justice and security,
and on development, finance and the environment will help us to
turn our action plan into actions.
I want to highlight two areas where our cooperation
is especially important: helping our people to thrive in the
global economy, and fighting crime and drugs. The move toward
open and competitive trade around the world and in our hemisphere
is bringing new opportunities for people to prosper. But rapid
change is disruptive, as well, as people struggle to acquire new
skills and nations strive to compete. The United States is
working to ensure that the transition to free trade in our
hemisphere is fair to our Caribbean partners.
When I return to Washington I will submit a
Caribbean Basin Trade Enhancement act to Congress. When passed,
this legislation will increase trade for all the Caribbean
nations and help them to prepare to take part in a free trade
area of the Americas.
We're also committed to help the Caribbean nations
diversify their economies and become more competitive. I
discussed with my fellow leaders their concern for the Caribbean
banana industry. In pursuing and winning our case at the World
Trade Organization, our target was a discriminatory European
system, not the Caribbean nations. I made it clear that as we
work toward a solution with our European partners, we will
continue to support duty-free access for Caribbean bananas in the
European market and we will seek ways to promote diversification
of the Caribbean economies.
When economies are strong they can better resist the
pressures of organized crime -- the drug pushers, the gun
runners, the alien smugglers, the criminal gangs. But to truly
conquer them we must work together. That's why I'm pleased we've
been able to conclude agreements for maritime law enforcement
cooperation with most countries in the region, including most
recently Jamaica and Barbados.
Today, the United States committed to help our
Caribbean partners strengthen their fight against drug-
trafficking, providing aircraft and Coast Guard cutters to patrol
the sky and the sea. We will participate in international
negotiations to outlaw and prevent traffic in illegal arms, and
we will help to establish a Caribbean institute to train
investigators and prosecutors to combat money-laundering, so that
criminals will no longer be able to scrub the fingerprints off
Working together, we can build a future of
prosperity and security for our people. But the scope is broad
and a commitment is deep as the waters that link our shores.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
Q Mr. President, I wonder, first of all, if you
could comment on the tone of your discussions and your reception
here today, given the admitted lack of U.S. attention to the
region in the past. And specifically, given the political
baggage that accompanies U.S. policy toward Cuba, were the
Caribbean leaders able to offer you any constructive suggestions
on how you could shift your handling of Havana more from the
negative to the positive? And I'd also like to extend that
question to any Caribbean leader who would like to take it.
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, first of all, we did not
discuss Cuba. We talked about what those who are represented
here could do together.
And, secondly, I believe that I have demonstrated my
good faith and the good faith of this administration toward the
Caribbean in many ways. We have already been together in
Washington, right before our operation to restore democracy in
Haiti. Most of us were gathered in Haiti when we celebrated that
restoration. And I think it is well-known that at the time we
fought for and succeeded in passing NAFTA in Congress, I made a
strong plea that we make sure that the Caribbean nations not be
I think we have now found a formula that will permit
us to do that that I believe has a good chance of passing in the
Congress, and it is included in my budget. And so I feel quite
good about the legislation I'm going to introduce and I'm going
to work hard to pass it and to establish a closer, more ongoing
relations with all these nations.
Do you want one of them to reply?
PRIME MINISTER PATTERSON: Our working sessions
included a business session this morning, which we have just
concluded, and a working lunch, to which we will now embark.
There are a number of matters that could not be covered in the
business session, and the opportunity of a working lunch among
the heads will afford us an opportunity of discussing those
subjects in the intimacy of that setting.
The views of the Caribbean leaders are well-known
insofar as Cuba is concerned. Cuba is a Caribbean territory. We
would like to see steps taken that would integrate Cuba fully not
only in the Caribbean family, but into the hemispheric family of
nations. And we would certainly want to use the opportunity to
indicate to the President over lunch the steps we think would be
possible to secure that objective.
PRIME MINISTER ARTHUR: If I may, quickly. It
should not escape your attention that this is the first ever
summit between the government of the United States of America and
the Caribbean that has ever been held on Caribbean soil. And
that, in and of itself, should represent the sense of partnership
that we are trying to build on matters of crucial importance to
the two sets of societies.
The spirit has not only been parlayed in the
diplomatic sense of the word, but has been constructive to the
extent that it has sought to address matters of immediate
consequence, as well as to lay a framework for the long-term
development of the relationships between the two sets of
We have approached this summit with a sense of
pragmatic optimism. We do not believe that all of the concerns
between our two sets of societies will be dealt with in one
swoop. But we feel that the putting in place of a partnership
and a mechanism for the follow-up of actions will allow us to be
able to redress some of the imbalances in the relationships of
the past and chart new directions for the future.
Q In the just signed document, Partner for
Prosperity, the Chief of States and government at the summit
pledged to give priority consideration to technologies such as
the Internet. President Clinton, if asked by President Preval,
will your administration tangibly support a plan to link all
public schools in Haiti to the Internet by the year 2004 on the
200-year anniversary of Haiti's independence?
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, this is the first I have
heard about the specific proposal, so I hate to answer a question
yes when I don't know whether I can do it or not. But let me
say, you may know that we are attempting to link all of our
classrooms and libraries to the Internet in the United States by
the year 2000, and then we want to move aggressively to try to
establish those kinds of interconnections with our allies
elsewhere. And I believe that with Haiti struggling to both
preserve democracy and overcome economic adversity, the nation
and the children would benefit immensely if that could be done.
So I would certainly be willing to try to help. If
I know I can do it, I will tell you yes, I can do it. But I
haven't had time to be briefed on it. But I am very open to the
suggestion; trying to help.
Q Thank you very much, Prime Minister Arthur. I
wonder if all of you would be interested in reacting to the open
letter from Oscar Arias that was written to President Clinton
while he was in Costa Rica, appealing to him not to lift the U.S.
arms embargo to sell sophisticated war planes to countries in
Latin America which is on the agenda right now.
And, President Clinton, I wonder if you've made up
your mind whether or not you're going to sell F-16s and other
sophisticated war planes and hardware to these countries, at a
time when he says -- former President Arias -- that they need
their money for more productive purposes as opposed to weaponry?
And with the indulgence of your host, I wonder if I could ask you
a parochial question. Kenneth Starr of the Whitewater
Independent Counsel at this hour is scheduled to be delivering a
speech in which he says the White House is an impediment to his
investigation, and I wonder if you have any reaction to his
comment. Thank you.
PRESIDENT CLINTON: I don't object to the Prime
Ministers commenting on -- is this on? Now can you hear? I'll
just speak up. I don't object to the Prime Ministers commenting
on the arms decision, but on that I can tell you that no decision
has been made yet.
The United States will not knowingly do anything
that will spark a new arms race or divert funds from defense to
-- from nondefense to defense areas in Latin America. The real
question is whether or not the armies in question where the
militaries have discussed this with our country are going to
upgrade their militaries anyway, and whether it would be better
in fending off future conflicts and controlling defense spending
for the United States, their hemispheric partner, to be the main
supplier or someone else to be the main supplier.
We have no interest in doing this for purely
economic reasons and we have no interest in promoting an arms
race in Latin America. So the judgment that I'm trying to make
-- and I haven't received a final recommendation on it from my
administration top personnel -- is whether or not, given the
facts in the various countries, it would be better for them and
better for us and better for peace over the long run in Latin
America for these airplanes essentially to be supplied by the
United States as opposed to someone else.
Now, on the other issue, I think that Mr. Starr must
be -- I haven't seen the speech, but I think he must be referring
to the 8th Circuit case, the facts of which have now been made
public, and I don't have anything to add to what my counsel said.
I think that it's obvious that for several years now we've been
quite cooperative and we'll continue to be. The White House
Counsel made his statement and I think it's clear and
self-evident what he said and why.
Would you like to say anything about the arms issue
-- either one of you?
PRIME MINISTER PATTERSON: I would say very simply
that I have participated in a gathering at the Conference Center
a few weeks ago at which the proposal conveyed by former
President Arias to President Clinton was fully discussed and
endorsed. Jamaica as a government supports the appeal.
Q President Clinton, what guarantees can you give
us here in the Caribbean that your new immigration laws won't
lead to mass repatriation of illegal Caribbean immigrants in the
And my second question is for Mr. Patterson. Can
you tell us if you've got any assurance from the President that
criminals in the United -- Caribbean criminals in the United
States won't be sent back home without any information being
conveyed to you, without any mechanisms being put in place to
deal with them when they arrive here?
PRESIDENT CLINTON: First of all, let me point out
that I believe the United States has the most generous
immigration policy of any large nation in the world. Last year
over 900,000 legal immigrants were admitted to the United States.
In order to sustain a policy that generous, it also
has to have some integrity. And looking at it, I suppose you
could say we had two choices. We could just lower the legal
immigration target dramatically to take account of all those who
are entering illegally; or instead we could reward those who
wait, play by the rules and obey the law, and try to strengthen
our capacity to stop illegal immigrants from coming into the
country, which we propose to do by stiffening our controls
primarily at the border, in the work place and when people get
into the criminal justice system.
Now, having said that, I can assure you, as I told
the leaders of the Central American countries, no one nation or
region will be targeted and there will be no mass deportations.
We are increasing our capacity to deal with people we find in the
workplace, at the borders, in the criminal justice system.
Finally -- Prime Minister Patterson and Prime
Minister Arthur might want to comment on this -- I do not believe
it is right for the United States to send people back to their
native lands who have been in our criminal justice
system without appropriate advance warning and notice. And I
pledged to them
that I would set up such a system. It is not right for us to do
Would you like to say something?
PRIME MINISTER PATTERSON: By recognizing the right
of each state to determine its policies on deportation subject to
international law, the plan of action to which we agreed set out
a number of specific measures that should be put in place. The
President has referred to one of them, the provision of adequate
advance notice to designated authorities prior to the deportation
We also think that adequate information should be
provided regarding the persons to be deported, and, of course, it
must be established by the person being deported is a national of
the receiving state.
Let me say very frankly why the problem is so acute.
We have found in several cases people being deported who have
lived in the United States not only for all their adult life, but
have gone there from the days of early childhood with their
entire families, and they have no family connection back in the
Caribbean and no social contact to the communities to which they
are being returned. And we, therefore, think if it is not to
fuel the criminal problem, it is a matter that we have to address
within the ambit of the cooperation to which we have pledged
PRIME MINISTER ARTHUR: I wish to add, please, that
on the matter of the possible effects of U.S. law on Caribbean
immigrants was a matter that was frankly discussed at our summit
today. We represented the concerns of our nationals and we have
impressed on the President the need for any legislation to be
applied in a manner that is not discriminatory, nor is unfair and
nor that -- and you put at risk the security and prosperity of
legal immigrants in the United States of America.
And I just want to add on the second matter that as
regards the matter of deportees, Barbados has managed to work out
a comprehensive framework with United States of America on all
matters pertaining to the fight against drugs. And I'm pleased
to say that I'm advised by my Attorney General that included in
that comprehensive framework is a protocol establishing the rules
that will be applied in the return of Barbadians to Barbados.
And we regard this as a substantial advance. And I'm also
pleased that our plan of action sets on a multilateral approach
to dealing with this potentially -- issue.
Q You promised -- on every stop of this trip,
including today, you have promised to try to soften the new
immigration law and try to extend trade preferences. But you
can't get any of that done without congressional approval and, in
the case of bananas, without cooperation with the European Union.
What happens to these relationships here in Central America and
in Mexico if you can't deliver on your rhetoric?
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, first of all, with regard
to the immigration law, the only thing that I was attempting to
change in the immigration law the congressional leadership has
agreed to change. They've agreed to restore benefits to legal
immigrants, which I thought was important.
We can under the existing law have the kind of
protocols that Prime Minister discussed where we pledge not to
violate the human rights of any particular group of people; we
pledge not to target any particular group; we pledge not to
engage in mass deportations. That is not required under our law,
nor was it contemplated.
To say that a country should and must have the
capacity to enforce its immigration law is not the same thing as
saying that there's going to be some huge roundup here. We just
want to be able to enforce the law when we come in contact with
people who have plainly violated it. So I don't agree that we
need congressional cooperation there, although I believe it's
consistent with what Congress intended when they passed the law.
Now, on this trade issue and on the question of
getting fast track authority from Congress generally, I think
that everyone understands, and I made it clear in our meetings
that all I could do was ask the Congress for its support, that
there was opposition in both parties to expanded trade, but there
was strong support in both parties to expanded trade. We've been
through these arguments before in the last few years, but I would
say the last time we had the debate back in '93, the American
economy was not in nearly the shape it's in now, and the Congress
did the right thing for the future of America and the future of
the Americas, and I believe it will be inclined to do so again.
Q My question is directed to President Clinton.
To fight the high cost of living, the government of Haiti has put
in place a program of agrarian reform to provide Haitian farmers
with technical means and rural credit to increase their capacity
of production. I would like to know if the United States is
ready to help in realizing this agrarian reform in Haiti, because
it is important for agriculture and for the people to find
something to eat. That's number one.
But number two, I would like to mention that in
Haiti, there is a sense of profound gratitude towards you,
personally, President Clinton, and towards the USA for the role
played in the restoration of constitutional order in Haiti after
the military coup d'etat, that overthrew the first
democratically-elected President of Haiti, Jean Bertrand
Aristide. And following that, there were a lot of promises that
gave hope to the Haitian people. But since then except for some
very limited contributions, there is a sense that the American
administration, under your leadership, has not done enough to
help meet the expectations and the most crucial needs of the
Haitian people. My question is, what are the next steps that the
United States intends to take to show that democracy can bring
prosperity as promised in Haiti?
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, first of all, that is a
complicated question because it requires significant actions on
behalf of the Haitian people, as well as those around the world
who wish to support Haiti.
I am going to have a meeting with President Preval
later this afternoon, after lunch, and we are going to discuss
that, and I will have some other examples of specific things the
United States intends to do. But I can tell you that I believe
that we should be involved over the long run in trying to help to
restore the economy and to restore the environment of Haiti --
without which the economy cannot be sustained -- and to maintain
the integrity of the democracy. So we will be working hard on
all those issues within the limits of our ability to do it. We
will do as much as we can. It's very important to me.
Q I know you answered Wolf's question, but you
didn't go very far, and Ken Starr really came out quite strongly
today. I wonder if you have begun to take this a little bit
personally. And also today he said very strongly that he
believes that White House lawyers are paid by the federal
government, they represent the federal government and, as such,
they are duty bound to disclose relevant information to a federal
grand jury. As President, do you agree with that? And, again,
as I asked before, do you feel that this has become a little
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, not on my part. Perhaps
on -- you know, you said he's the one that came out strongly.
I'm just over here doing my job in the Caribbean. (Laughter and
I can only say what I have said before. Chuck Ruff,
whom I believe has a reputation as a lawyer of impeccable
integrity and who is an expert in these kinds of processes, came
to me and said that the effect of the decision would be not
confined to the President, the First Lady, the Chief of Staff at
the White House -- any group of people; that the position that
the Special Counsel was arguing for would, in effect, abolish the
lawyer-client privilege between a federal government lawyer and a
federal employee at any level under any circumstances.
Now, the law firms in America might be ecstatic
about that because it would certainly make a lot more private
business for lawyers. But he came to me and said, I cannot tell
you how emphatically I believe that this case must be appealed.
He said, I'm your lawyer, I know you haven't done anything wrong,
I know you've made all the evidence available to them. This is a
major constitutional question and, Mr. President, you do not have
the right to go along with saying that every federal employee in
America should lose the attorney-client privilege under these
circumstances if the federal employee has a lawyer in the federal
Now, that's what he said to me. I cannot enlighten
you any more. If you want to know any more about it, you've got
to ask him.
MODERATOR: Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you,
Prime Minister Patterson. Thank you, Prime Minister Arthur.
Ladies and gentlemen, that concludes our press
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