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New Haitian Leader Visits Washington Seeking More Support

by Lily Chang
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Haiti’s new prime minister, Garry Conille, met with top Democratic congressional leaders Tuesday to request more American assistance, 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 for the mission, with the United States as the lead donor. However, Mr. Conille told Democrats that more money is urgently needed to address basic infrastructure and services.

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

Eight months after the U.N. authorized international forces in Haiti, the first wave of troops from the Kenyan-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 to reduce violence and corruption.

Democrats are pushing for more support, but they face opposition from Republicans concerned about the mission’s goals and a long history of failed interventions in Haiti. Sen. Jim Risch of Idaho and Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas have criticized the Kenyan troop deployment, citing concerns about instability in Haiti and Kenya’s internal problems.

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

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 to return to the country.

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

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