Speak out for democracy and safety in Haiti
Haiti is in crisis. Decades of compounding emergencies and injustices have rocked the country — from deadly natural disasters to complete mismanagement by Haiti’s politicians. Today, the nation is plagued with unprecedented levels of gang violence that hold much of the population hostage. Widespread hunger and near total lack of access to health care have put Haitians’ lives, rights and safety at risk.
AJWS supports local leaders in Haiti working tirelessly to chart a path forward, and they’re asking our government for support. Will you urge President Biden to answer their call for security and justice?
Sign our letter to President Biden below to show his administration that you support these activists in their calls for a democratic future under a new governing regime, not the current one with a history of corruption and catastrophic failure. Without a functioning and representative government, gang violence, hunger and poverty will certainly continue. Join us in this urgent call for change.
Dear President Biden,
Haiti is in crisis, with the government unable to protect and provide for the people. Over the past decade, a governing regime currently led by de facto Prime Minister Ariel Henry has stolen untold sums in public funds, dismantled democratic institutions and funded and armed gangs. Unfortunately, international aid and interventions have all too often only exacerbated the situation. As a result, the country is mired in overlapping crises: Haiti lacks a legitimate government or a functioning state; gang violence holds much of the country hostage; and the economy has plummeted, as people struggle to access health care, food, water, gas and regular employment.
Climate change — and the more devastating storms and flooding that come with it — is also crippling communities across Haiti and will only grow worse in the coming years. Almost half of Haiti’s population is facing food insecurity, with some nearing famine levels of hunger. Without a functioning government to provide support, many Haitians are left hungry, jobless, without a home and at daily risk of unspeakable violence at the hands of Haiti’s 200 gangs. The gangs have become more brazen in recent months, kidnapping and killing Haitians, escalating inter-gang violence in efforts to expand their territories. Haitians are afraid to leave their homes due to the increased violence.
Before the nation can move forward, one crucial question must be answered: Who will govern and chart a path to strengthened democratic institutions and eventual elections? The political crisis in Haiti must be effectively addressed for other urgent problems — including hunger and spiraling instability — to be resolved once and for all. To date, the U.S. has unconditionally supported Henry even though he is unelected nor accountable to the people and under whose rule the situation in the country has become worse by any measure. Henry is not the transitional government, and his continuation of power has only resulted in an unsustainable freefall of Haitian’s safety and security. A return to rule of law, safety and security, and a thriving Haiti requires a new approach, and one led by Haitian civil society.
That’s why, as supporters of American Jewish World Service, which has operated in Haiti for over two decades, we urge you and your administration to:
Stop the U.S. pattern of providing unconditional support to the current Haitian Prime Minister, who was not elected by the Haitian people, does not have a mandate to lead and under whose rule conditions for Haitians have only deteriorated. Stop propping up Ariel Henry’s rule and allow other alternatives to emerge.
Focus all efforts on supporting Haitians to establish an inclusive, credible and representative transitional government that will work to restore Haiti’s institutions, and respect for rule of law as well as be accountable to the people.
Once it is formed, support a transitional government’s efforts to reform Haiti’s constitution, judicial systems and organize free, fair and participatory elections on a timeline Haitians agree is possible. Elections are long overdue but are not possible under the current conditions. The U.S. should support Haitian civil society and a transitional government's efforts to strengthen institutions to ensure a return to electoral democracy in due course.
Increase enforcement of the U.S. arms embargo and attempts to stop the flow of weapons and ammunition from the U.S.
The U.S. should support the creation of an independent Haitian council of civilian experts to oversee the police force, rather than the current political council responsible for oversight. While the Haitian National Police (HNP) are an imperfect force, subject to corruption and ties to gangs, they represent an important path to restoration of safety and security in Haiti. Provide support for HNP to vet new and current officers and remove officers on the force with ties to gangs. Support ongoing training, reinforcement and mentoring for remaining and new police recruits.
Support establishing a tracking system for all arms, ammunition and vehicles to ensure that they do not end up in the hands of gangs.
Take proactive measures to support Haitians who are migrating due to violence, terror and democratic breakdown, by allowing Haitians seeking asylum at the U.S. border to make claims and remain in the U.S. while their claims are processed.
Haiti has suffered too long from international intervention that imposes quick solutions to complex problems and that fails to correct past mistakes. We urge you to take immediate action to improve the lives and advance the rights of Haitians.