U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio is headed to Haiti, where he plans to spend the day on Wednesday urging dialogue between the country’s embattled president and opposition parties calling for his resignation.

The Florida Republican senator is visiting as chairman of the Senate’s Western Hemisphere subcommittee, said Laura Ortiz, who handles foreign policy press inquiries and Hispanic media outreach for the senator’s office.

“The goal is to urge for dialogue,” she said. “The U.S. obviously is continuing to call on the actors to engage in dialogue and that’s the message.”

Rubio, who had been critical of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse over his support of Venezuela, has been less vocal since Haiti joined the United States in not recognizing “the legitimacy” of President Nicolás Maduro as he prepared to begin a new term in January and then again as the Trump administration recognized opposition leader Juan Guaidó after he declared himself interim president of the oil-rich South American nation.
On Tuesday, the White House announced that Moïse is among five Caribbean leaders invited to meet with President Donald Trump at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach County on Friday. Their nations, Haiti, Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Saint Lucia, are all members of the Lima Group — a bloc of Latin American and Caribbean nations — at the Organization of American States that have been pushing to step up sanctions and political pressure on Venezuela. 

Rubio’s visit to Port-au-Prince comes as Haiti undergoes its own economic and political crisis. On Monday, lawmakers in the Lower Chamber of Deputies fired Prime Minister Jean Henry Céantand his 21-member government after only six months in office, citing Céant’s inability to improve the living conditions of Haitians, who are facing frequent blackouts amid fuel shortages, skyrocketing prices, double digit inflation and an $89.6 million budget deficit. Continue reading

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