Letter (PDF)

Washington (December 19, 2023) - Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) sent a letter to President Joe Biden calling on the Administration to address the rising state of insecurity and the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Haiti. In their letter, the Senators expressed grave concern about the lack of progress Haiti has made in establishing a legitimate, democratically elected government that is supported by the Haitian constitution. Senators John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) are also cosigners.

Following the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse in 2021, Ariel Henry, who President Moïse unconstitutionally appointed as prime minister, has assumed the role of de facto head of state without being democratically elected as president by the Haitian people. Mr. Henry has been affiliated with Parti HaïtienTèt Kale (PHTK), a political party which has used gangs to repress its own people and helped spark the country’s humanitarian crisis. Without a democratically elected government, any international security mission approved by the United Nations to address Haiti’s current crisis will only reinforce Mr. Henry's illegitimate rule.

In their letter to President Biden, the lawmakers wrote, “In September of this year, you called upon the United Nations to approve the resulting security support mission to help Haiti stem the surging gang violence. However, without a functioning, democratically elected government, an international security mission will not sufficiently address the complexity of the current crisis and could effectively reinforce Henry’s illegitimate and ineffective rule. Haiti needs a transitional government that has credibility with the Haitian people and the ability and will to hold free and fair elections.”

In their letter, the Senators request answers to the following questions:

  1. What is the U.S. government’s assessment of its efforts to rely on Ariel Henry to stabilize Haiti and organize elections? When does the U.S. expect elections to take place?
  2. Will you commit to reengaging with the civil society-led process for creating a transitional government in Haiti, without granting Ariel Henry or PHTK a de facto veto over a new transitional government?
  3. Will you commit to moving forward with targeted Global Magnitsky Act sanctions on Haitian elites and officials responsible for colluding with violent gangs and engaging in significant acts of corruption, including relevant leaders of PHTK?
  4. What additional steps will you take to stop the flow of heavy weapons and ammunition into Haiti from the U.S. and through the Dominican Republic?

In December 2022, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced that the Biden administration would extend and redesignate Temporary Protect Status (TPS) for Haitians in the United States for an additional 18 months, following an October 2022 letter that Senator Markey led with 15 colleagues calling for the status change. Amid surging COVID-19 cases in March 2020, Senator Markey first called on the DHS to immediately halt deportations and release immigrants from detention who are not a public safety threat. In August 2016, he successfully led the effort in the Senate to pressure the United Nations to accept full responsibility for Haiti’s cholera outbreak and deliver financial assistance to victims and their families, following his travel to Haiti to deliver aid and assess the humanitarian response.