Washington (October 6, 2022) – As the de facto Haitian government fails to effectively address Haiti’s first cholera deaths in three years and escalating gang violence in Port-au-Prince, Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and James P. McGovern (MA-02), Chair of the House Rules Committee, led their colleagues in a letter today to President Biden calling for the U.S. to support the Haitian people’s desire to realize their democratic aspirations. Since the assassination of President Moïse in July 2021, the Haitian government has been led by de facto Prime Minister Dr. Ariel Henry. Henry assumed his position following a power struggle with then-Prime Minister Claude Joseph and has no constitutional or popular mandate. In the past year, the nation’s security and humanitarian situations have worsened and criminal gangs continue to prevent the distribution of humanitarian assistance, including to the more than five million Haitians – accounting for half of Haiti’s population – who require food assistance. Additionally, parliamentary elections have not been held since 2016 and the Haitian Parliament was dissolved in 2020.
“The United States must lend its support for legitimate efforts to create a transitional Haitian government that respects the will of the Haitian people, and should make it clear to [de facto Prime Minister] Henry that it will not support him as he blocks progress,” wrote the lawmakers. “The Haitian people desire and deserve stability and democracy for Haiti.”
In their letter, the lawmakers outline critical steps the Biden administration should take to support Haiti’s stability and democracy, namely:
The lawmakers concluded, “Starting with the limited efforts we are proposing, which keep the Haitian people firmly at the helm, the United States can clearly communicate that it approaches its role with humility and respect for the democratic aspirations of the Haitian people.”
Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Representatives Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Stacey Plaskett (D-VI), Bill Keating (MA-09), Terri Sewell (AL-07), Maxine Waters (CA-43), Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), Jamie Raskin (MD-08), and Dwight Evans (PA-03) also joined the letter.
Senator Markey has long been an advocate for peace and stability for Haiti. In October 2016, he traveled to Haiti to observe the U.S. humanitarian response to Hurricane Matthew and assess public health conditions amid the nation’s cholera epidemic. He led the effort in the Senate to pressure the United Nations (U.N.) to accept full responsibility for Haiti’s cholera outbreak and deliver financial assistance to victims and their families affected by the epidemic. The U.N. finally apologized in December of that year. In May 2020, Senator Markey urged then-President Trump to halt deportations to Haiti during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in an effort to protect the Haitian people and their public health infrastructure.
Chairman McGovern has been a longtime advocate for the people of Haiti, including after a devastating earthquake hit the country in 2010. As Co-Chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, he has led hearings to draw attention to ongoing development needs and the deepening human rights crisis on the island nation, and highlighted the successes of civil society initiatives. He has strongly opposed the deportation of Haitians fleeing violence and poverty and supported extending TPS for Haitians residing in the U.S.