The crisis in Haiti forced a change in US policy

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POSITIVE
Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry’s resignation on Tuesday marks a watershed moment for U.S. diplomacy, which for the last 32 months focused on keeping him in power against the warnings of experts and Haitian civil society.
Under Henry, who served as acting prime minister and acting president, armed gangs grew stronger as the government’s reach shrank, with the Caribbean nation becoming more and more reliant on U.S. support and the promise of an international police mission.
“It’s maddening for the Haitians and it’s maddening for me, and two weeks ago, if you recall, this situation was not at all urgent to the secretary of State and the U.S. government, despite the fact that it has been urgent for 32 months,” said Dan Foote, the Biden administration’s former special envoy to Haiti, who in 2021 resigned in protest against deportations back to the country.
Henry’s resignation came as criminal gangs heightened their attacks on key installations in Port-au-Prince, including the airport.
Henry himself was unable even to return to Haiti after an attempt to secure a Kenyan police force to bolster Haiti’s National Police.
Henry, who was officially a transitional figure, was the longest tenured prime minister since the end of the Duvalier dictatorship in 1986.
Though the State Department’s support was officially intended to help him rebuild a government structure in the wake of the 2021 assassination of former President Jovenel Moïse, Henry had shown few signs of relinquishing power until he was shut out of the country.
“If you look at the background and the context, Prime Minister Henry has always been a transitional figure,” State Department Matt Miller told reporters Tuesday.
“If you look at the way he came into office, the tragic circumstances, the assassination of the president — we have always called, along with Haitian civil society, Haitian political leaders — for a transition to free and fair elections and a transition to democracy, which of course requires stable security in which you can hold elections.”Miller added that over the past few days it became clear “not to the United States, but to members of CARICOM [the Caribbean Community], to members of Haitian civil society, to a number of Haitians,’’ that the political situation under Henry was untenable.
In response to the developing crisis, Secretary of State Antony Blinken has been busy engaging with Caribbean allies and Kenya to plot a path forward.
After a phone call with Kenyan President William Ruto on Saturday, Blinken traveled to Kingston, Jamaica, on Monday, where he discussed the issue with Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who hosted a Haiti summit that included input from the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, France, CARICOM and some members of Haitian civil society via Zoom.
“We support the plan to create a broad-based, inclusive, independent presidential college that would, in particular, first, take concrete steps to meet the immediate needs of the Haitian people; second, enable the swift deployment of the Multinational Security Support Mission; and third, through that deployment, through a reinforced Haitian National Police, create the security conditions that are necessary to hold free and fair elections, to allow humanitarian assistance to get to people who need it, and to help put Haiti back on a path to economic opportunity and growth,” Blinken said in Kingston on Monday, adding that the Department of Defense doubled its peacekeeping mission support from $100 million to $200 million, and the United States pledged an extra $33 million for health and food security.
State Department officials in a call Tuesday focused on deployment and funding of the Kenyan-led multinational police force.
An official said the department’s previous $100 million allocation to Haiti will be used to reimburse Kenya for its contributions and emphasized the dire need for the security assistance despite failed missions in the past.
“The international community, as well as Haitian stakeholders, are very cognizant of the mistakes of the past,” a senior State Department official said.
“And they’re taking proactive measures to ensure that they are never repeated.”The official said that the new security mission has a “crucial difference” from those of the past because it will be “integrated into the Haitian fabric of policing and security, rather than operating outside of that context.”The CARICOM-sponsored plan for Haitian governance calls for a transitional presidential council that will have presidential powers and be composed of Haitians who agree not to compete in the next presidential election, have not been sanctioned by the U.N. or charged or convicted with a crime and who commit to supporting an international police force.
That last requirement is not landing well among parts of Haitian civil society.
“We welcome the support of the international community.
We are grateful that they are now really looking into how to make a commitment to Haiti.
H

Tuesday’s resignation of Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry is a turning point for U.S. S. diplomacy, which has spent the last thirty-two months trying to maintain his position of authority in spite of the advice of experts and the Haitian civil society.

As the government’s influence decreased under Henry, who held dual roles as acting president and prime minister, armed gangs became more powerful and the Caribbean country became increasingly dependent on U.S. s. encouragement and the assurance of an international police operation.

The situation is frustrating for both the Haitians and me, and as you may remember, two weeks ago, the Secretary of State and the U.S. S. government, even though it has been urgent for thirty-two months,” stated Dan Foote, the former special envoy of the Biden administration to Haiti, who resigned in 2021 to protest being deported back to his home country.

Henry’s resignation coincided with an increase in criminal gang attacks on the airport and other important Port-au-Prince facilities. Even after making an effort to recruit Kenyan police to support Haiti’s National Police, Henry was not allowed to return to his home country.

Officially a figure of transition, Henry served as prime minister for the longest period of time since the fall of the Duvalier dictatorship in 1986.

Henry had shown no signs of ceding authority until he was barred from the country, despite the official goal of the State Department’s support being to assist him in reconstructing a government structure following the 2021 assassination of former President Jovenel Moïse.

According to State Department Matt Miller, Prime Minister Henry has always been a transitional figure when you consider the background and context, he told reporters on Tuesday.

“Considering how he assumed office, the tragic events leading up to it, and the president’s assassination, it is clear that we have always called for a transition to free and fair elections and a transition to democracy, which naturally calls for stable security that permits the holding of elections in Haiti.”. “.

Miller continued, saying that it had become evident over the previous few days that the political situation under Henry was untenable “not to the United States, but to members of CARICOM [the Caribbean Community], to members of Haitian civil society, to a number of Haitians.”.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken has been actively involved in negotiating a solution with Caribbean allies and Kenya in reaction to the unfolding crisis.

Blinken spoke with Kenyan President William Ruto over the phone on Saturday, and on Monday he traveled to Kingston, Jamaica, to speak with Prime Minister Andrew Holness. Holness organized a summit on Haiti, which included participation from the US, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, France, CARICOM, and some members of the Haitian civil society via Zoom.

In Kingston on Monday, Blinken stated, “We support the plan to create a broad-based, inclusive, independent presidential college that would, in particular, take concrete steps to meet the immediate needs of the Haitian people; second, enable the swift deployment of the Multinational Security Support Mission; and third, through that deployment, through a reinforced Haitian National Police, create the security conditions that are necessary to hold free and fair elections, to allow humanitarian assistance to get to people who need it, and to help put Haiti back on a path to economic opportunity and growth.” Additionally, Blinken stated, the Department of Defense doubled its support for peacekeeping missions from $100 million to $200 million, and the US promised an additional $33 million for health and food.

The deployment and funding of the multinational police force led by Kenya were the main topics of discussion among State Department officials during a Tuesday call. An official stressed the urgent need for the security assistance despite previous missions’ failures and stated that the department’s prior $100 million allotment to Haiti will be used to reimburse Kenya for its contributions.

“The past mistakes are very much in the memory of the international community and Haitian stakeholders,” a senior State Department official stated. And they’re acting proactively to make sure they don’t happen again. “.

According to the official, the new security mission will be “integrated into the Haitian fabric of policing and security, rather than operating outside of that context,” which makes it “crucially different” from previous missions. “.

A transitional presidential council with presidential powers is proposed in the CARICOM-sponsored plan for Haitian governance; it is to be made up of Haitians who consent to not run for office in the upcoming presidential election and have not received U.S. sanction. N. or who swear allegiance to an international police force after being accused of or found guilty of a crime.

Certain segments of Haitian civil society find the last requirement unsettling.

“The backing of the global community is greatly appreciated. We appreciate that they are now giving serious thought to how they can commit to Haiti. Nevertheless, Guerline Jozef, executive director of the Haitian Bridge Alliance, a nonprofit serving the diaspora, stated that “a true Haitian-led solution cannot be contingent on that person accepting conditions they do not agree with or may not be in the best interest of Haiti and its people in order to be in a position of power.”.

The requirement to support foreign military intervention—whether welcome in the short term or not—hits a raw nerve in a nation that has been fighting to free itself of foreign dictates since 1791, despite the fact that the presidential council will have representation from a wide range of political groups in Haiti.

Experts claim that allowing true self-governance in Haiti—as opposed to foreign imposition—has never been attempted before.

The misconception held by the international community is that Haiti will simply collapse if there is no government in place. That has already been given to s—. Foote stated, “It’s been too long since Moïse got clipped, and if we just give them some space, it will get better.

Meanwhile, Haitians preparing for another attempt at a well-known pattern are seen both in their homeland and abroad.

“There were no Haitian representations, so what I’m hearing from the Haitian community in Haiti and the United States is again, ‘here we go again,'” remarked Jozef.

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