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A transitional government in Haiti could solicit assistance


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The U.S. and the international community can help Haiti solve its security issues by providing needed resources.

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Haiti’s challenges are multifaceted and multi-dimensional, and to address these problems, the international community, especially the United States, must engage Haiti differently. Unfortunately, the last three decades have shown that our policy towards Haiti has not worked, particularly for the Haitians.

The 2010 earthquake that killed hundreds of thousands of Haitians was a squandered opportunity by the United States and others to help Haiti reconstruct and redefine itself. A stable and fully legitimized government would have the capacity to tackle the country’s problems successfully and avoid a crisis that could proliferate the Dominican Republic, disrupt the Caribbean, and ultimately impact the U.S.

Therefore, largely because of the lost opportunity and historically unenlightened and counterproductive policy, the Haitian government has lost control of much of the country. Criminal gangs have taken over, operating with impunity, kidnapping innocent Haitians and foreigners for ransom and terrorizing the populace. The Haitian police force is inadequately funded and equipped and does not have the resources to combat the gangs. According to a 2020 United Nations report, at least 210,000 illicit arms have been trafficked into the country, amplifying the armament gap between the gangs and police.

The United States can help Haiti solve its security issues by providing needed resources and developing strategies for neutralizing and eventually defeating the gangs. Haitians live in perpetual fear of violence as gangs terrorize neighborhoods. The reign of terror should be a wake-up call to the international community, as it increasingly spreads to non-Haitians. Two months ago, criminal 400 Mawozo kidnapped 16 Americans and one Canadian, including women and children, demanding millions of dollars before their release.

On Feb. 7, 2022, the constitutional term of former President Jovenel Moïse (who, before his assassination, appointed current Prime Minister Ariel Henry) was to end. The Haitian people now seek a transition government to organize free and fair elections. The emergence of a new force gives hope for an altered dynamic in Haiti.

This force, the 2021 Haitian Diaspora Interest Group, is an ad-hoc group composed of people and organizations with deep Haitian connections and no agenda other than a viable and vitalized Haiti. The Interest Group is organizing the Haiti Unity Summit. The Summit, hosted by Southern University Law Center, Nelson Mandela Center for Public Policy, Jan.13-19, hopes to sign the resolution on Jan. 17, Martin Luther King Day. And like Rev. King, the Diaspora “has a dream,” and their engagement represents the first and potentially last opportunity for the country’s political factions to come together and emerge with a Haitian solution to Haiti’s intractable crises.

The United States and the international community can support the “Haitian Led Solution” Unity Summit, where parties come together to create a consensus agreement on how to form a government of transition and set the stage for a pathway to free and fair elections. The international community can support the outcome of the Summit and pledge to assist Haiti in implementing the consensus Accord.

Haiti has many challenges, but none can be addressed unless we address the political issue first. The people of Haiti need a government that is responsive to their needs. Toward this end, four steps are needed to achieve a lasting solution.

First, and foremost is a transitional government legitimized by a national consensus. Second, this government would have to ask the international community for the assistance it needs to combat gang violence, address security concerns, and humanitarian relief: food, water and fuel. Also, develop a comprehensive vaccine initiative to address public health and safety and strengthen civic institutions and coalitions. Third, Haiti needs an all-encompassing economic development plan, the kind of plan created by the United States for Europe after the World War II. A “Plan Haiti,” a vast economic assistance and development program with real accountability by the recipients. Fourth, there must be a commitment, process, and enforcement mechanism to end corruption and set forth a constitution that serves as Haiti’s enduring, enforceable doctrine.

The international community held a meeting a week ago calling for a national dialogue and consensus among Haitians; while this is a noble call to action, the international community can do better by encouraging the parties to come together to negotiate a political solution.

For more than two centuries, foreign powers, especially the U.S., have pursued policies that have contributed significantly to Haiti’s unique problems and challenges. Those countries have a responsibility to help Haiti overcome that legacy of unstable democracy, disaster, and bad politics. This responsibility can be executed, among other things, by encouraging participation in the upcoming Summit and publicly supporting any consensual and unifying solution that emerges from the process. The Haiti Unity Summit is the best and only broad-based “Haitian Led Solution” offered today.

Retired Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honoré led the security review of the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. He headed efforts to restore New Orleans after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

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