Home News Haiti’s new leader visits Washington to seek more support

Haiti’s new leader visits Washington to seek more support

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Top congressional Democrats met with Haiti’s new Prime Minister Gary Corneille on Tuesday and pledged to secure more U.S. aid, days after a U.S.-backed international police mission arrived on the Caribbean island to restore stability in a country that has been under siege for months by criminal gangs.

The Biden administration plans to allocate $100 million to the mission, with the United States as the largest financial supporter. Republican oppositionBut Cornell told Democrats on Tuesday that more money is needed, and soon.

“This is a critical moment,” Mr. Cornely said in an interview after a meeting with lawmakers and officials from international financial institutions on Tuesday afternoon. He expressed gratitude for the support that has been pledged and stressed the urgent need for continued investment.

“I need to get the funding necessary to quickly build basic infrastructure, repair basic infrastructure and make sure people have access to these services,” he said.

“The problem in Haiti is so serious that we want to make sure we understand his priorities and how we address security and economic needs and make sure the funding is actually there,” Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, a Florida Democrat and the only Haitian-American member of Congress, said in an interview. “We’ve been working in Congress since October to make sure the funding is there because we have a very short window to succeed.”

Eight months after the United Nations authorized the deployment of an international force to Haiti, The first wave of troops from the Kenyan-led Multinational Security Support Mission arrived on June 25. Trying to eliminate violence and regain control of the country.

In Washington, the new prime minister and members of his cabinet also met with Biden administration officials, including Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken. At each stop, Corneille, who briefly served as prime minister in 2011, detailed his plans to lead the country away from violence and corruption and to reestablish democratic norms. Appointed by the Board of DirectorsThe government aims to hold elections before its term expires on February 7, 2026.

“They want to create a situation where they can transfer power to a new administration, but they need help,” said Representative Gregory W. Meeks of New York, the top Democrat on the Foreign Affairs Committee. “They need resources.”

Congressional Democrats are lobbying the Biden administration to provide more support for the island nation of more than 11 million people.

But the fundraising effort has faced stiff opposition from senior Republicans in Congress, who say specific goals for the mission and how to measure success are unclear. They remain wary of pouring millions of dollars into a country dominated by mobsters and with a long history of political corruption.

“It is extremely disappointing that the Biden Administration has chosen to overturn my decision on American taxpayer funding for an international police force in Haiti,” Sen. Jim Risch of Idaho, the ranking Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement, using the abbreviation for the international police force. “Since last September, I have made very clear my serious and specific concerns about this mission. I am concerned in part because the international community’s intervention in Haiti has long failed, wasted billions of dollars, and left the Haitian people worse off.”

Along with Mr. Risch, Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, also condemned Kenya’s sending of troops to Haiti, saying the move left the African country vulnerable to its own instability.

“The same day 400 Kenyan police officers arrived in Haiti, Kenya’s parliament was occupied by protesters,” the two Republicans said in a statement. “As a result, the Kenyan military, mobilized under dubious constitutional authority, used live ammunition to disperse protesters, killing more than 20 civilians. The government must find another solution to address insecurity in Haiti.”

Recent violent clashes and unrest centered in the capital, Port-au-Prince, are the latest disruption to order in a country plagued by a series of crises.

The people of Haiti are still recovering from a series of natural disasters, including devastating earthquakes in 2010 and 2021, while also facing food shortages, cholera outbreaks, and limited access to basic health care in some areas.

In 2021, instability reached a new high. 2016 President-elect Jovenel Moise assassinated At his home. No elections have been held since then and gang violence is rife. The United Nations estimates that nearly 80 percent of Port-au-Prince is controlled by gang alliances.

Mr. Meeks and Ms. Chefilus-McCormick said they were optimistic that the international police mission would succeed in helping Haiti on the path to stability.

“I think the important point, at least to me, is that the prime minister is not someone who was installed by the United States,” Meeks said.

If Mr. Cornely could preside over eliminating the gangs and restoring stability, “it would bring a completely different atmosphere to the island,” he added.

Ms. Chefilus-McCormick said she hoped meaningful protests against violence would “inspire the Haitian people to also begin to participate” in the country’s transition to a stable democracy and entice citizens to return to their homeland.

“If we can help Haitians stay in Haiti, if we can help them actually thrive and be self-reliant, then Haiti becomes another country that we can engage with,” she said.

Mr Cornely said: “We only have one chance and we cannot fail.”

Francis Roberts Contributed reporting.

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