Nation Digest

Nation Digest: Bill Clinton Named U.N. Special Envoy for Haiti

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Bill Clinton Named As Envoy for Haiti

Bill Clinton has been appointed U.N. special envoy for Haiti, a part-time position in which the former U.S. president will aim to attract private and government investment and aid for the poor Caribbean island nation, according to Clinton's office and a senior U.N. official.

Clinton has long shown an interest in Haiti, where he played a role in restoring ousted president Jean-Bertrand Aristide to power in 1994. Aristide was forced out of office again a decade later.

Monday's appointment comes more than two months after U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Clinton and a delegation of business leaders traveled to Haiti to highlight the importance of restoring economic security there. The country has been buffeted over the past year by soaring oil and food prices and a series of devastating hurricanes.

A U.N. official said that Clinton would act as a "cheerleader" for the economically distressed country, cajoling government and business leaders into pouring fresh money into a place that is largely dependent on foreign assistance. It is similar to a role he played, alongside former president George H.W. Bush, after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

U.N. officials said they planned to announce the appointment Tuesday, but Clinton jumped the gun, issuing a statement Monday that he was honored to accept Ban's offer. "Last year's natural disasters took a great toll, but Haiti's government and people have the determination to build back better," he said in the statement, which was published in the Miami Herald.

-- Colum Lynch


Former Aide Admits To Theft From Office

A 27-year-old former congressional aide admitted Monday that she stole more than $5,000 from the lawmaker's office account to pay for pizza, airplane tickets and groceries.

Caroline Valdez pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to one count of theft of government property. In court papers, Justice Department prosecutors said Valdez stole the money in 2006 from the allowance account of an unnamed House member. Congressional records show that Valdez worked for an executive assistant to Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) during that period.

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