New Haitian leader visits Washington in search of more support

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Haiti’s new prime minister, Garry Conille, met with top Democratic congressional leaders on Tuesday to request increased American assistance. This comes after a U.S.-backed international police mission arrived to restore stability in a country besieged by criminal gangs.

The Biden administration plans to allocate $100 million to the mission, with the U.S. being the largest donor. However, Mr. Conille told Democrats that more funds are urgently needed to address basic infrastructure and services.

“This is a critical point,” Mr. Conille said, emphasizing the need for continued investment after meeting with lawmakers and international financial institutions. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, a Florida Democrat and the only Haitian-American in Congress, highlighted the urgency of the situation.

Eight months after the U.N. authorized international forces in Haiti, the first wave of troops from the Kenya-led Multinational Security Support Mission arrived on June 25. In Washington, Mr. Conille met with Biden administration officials, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, to outline plans for reducing violence and corruption.

Democrats are pushing for more support, but face opposition from Republicans concerned about the mission’s goals and the long history of failed interventions in Haiti. Senator Jim Risch of Idaho and Representative Michael McCaul of Texas criticized the deployment of Kenyan troops, citing concerns over Haiti’s instability and Kenya’s internal issues.

Recent violent clashes in Port-au-Prince have further disrupted the country, already struggling with natural disasters, food shortages, and health crises. The assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in 2021 has left Haiti without elections and under gang control.

Mr. Meeks and Ms. Cherfilus-McCormick remain hopeful that the international mission will help stabilize Haiti. They believe that strong action against violence could encourage Haitians to participate in the democratic transition and potentially attract citizens back to the country.

“We only have one chance here,” Mr. Conille said, “and we cannot fail.”

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