Congressional leaders throughout the United States have reached out to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to support citizens of Haiti as they investigate government corruption. They also want a briefing on the progress of the United Nation’s efforts on the humanitarian crisis on the island nation.
A letter was signed by 104 bipartisan members of Congress on March 20 detailing the many concerns they had about the conditions in Haiti, especially in regards to human rights violations against civil protestors who have been marching against the Haitian government for misappropriation of funds from the Petrocaribe oil alliance between Venezuela and several Caribbean islands.
Leading the pack is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Haitian human rights activist U.S. Rep. Andy Levin (D-Michigan).
“Having been engaged in Haitian human rights work for more than three decades, I am determined to elevate the United States’ response to the dangers faced by protesters seeking justice and democracy in Haiti,” said Levin. “To protect the Haitian people, the United States must investigate the Haitian government’s corruption and human rights violations, and the State Department should ramp up its communication with Congress on its progress. We cannot let this perilous situation escalate further.”
Supporting Levin’s efforts is U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-California), a member of the House Appropriations Committee.
“The latest reports of violence against civil protestors by the Haitian National Police are deeply concerning,” said Lee. “Given the United States’ longstanding support for the people of Haiti, it is critical that the Secretary of State take action to investigate these claims and to ensure that the country’s upcoming elections are transparent and inclusive. The Haitian people have endured enough in their long fight for democracy and human rights.”
In February, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights reported that 26 people were killed and 77 were injured in less than three weeks for protesting against the government for siphoning $2 billion that was supposed to go towards social projects in Haiti from the oil deal.
The letter further states that it wants the U.S. to help ensure a democratic environment in Haiti – parliamentary elections are in October – to partner with organizations in the country so that Congressional leaders can stay up-to-date on the conditions on the island, and to issue reports on the Haitian National Police, which had received $150 million in funds to strengthen and professionalize the force.
“We appreciate the legitimate frustrations of the Haitian people, whose democratic aspirations have been repeatedly thwarted,” said the joint statement. “We urge you to support dialogue aimed at resolving the country’s escalating crisis and ensuring that upcoming elections are transparent and inclusive.”