The former US envoy to the country says the Biden administration foiled Haiti’s plans for free elections and backed a de facto dictator in exchange for willingness to accept those in exile.
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Daniel Foote, a former US special envoy to Haiti appointed by Biden, says the administration has supported Dr. Ariel Henry – who took power as both acting prime minister and acting president after the assassination of President Jovenel Mois – because he is Haitian. were ready to accept. Migrants who have arrived at the US border.
Henry was believed to have held new elections by now. But in September 2021, a large group of Haitian immigrants camped in Del Rio, Texas, and images of the camp — which included border agents on horseback trying to stop them from crossing the river — posed for President Biden. Caused a political headache.
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Henry agreed to take on the exiled Haitians, Foote says, and the Biden administration stopped pushing for democracy on the Caribbean nation.
“America made a undemocratic transfer of power. We were kicking the can down the road so that we wouldn’t disturb the vote moving toward the midterms. ,
On the morning of July 7, 2021, two dozen armed men stormed the Haitian presidential compound, killing 12 shots at President Moise and injuring his wife.
the matter is unresolved, Although The New York Times reports And CNN show that Henry is close to Joseph Felix Badio, one of the men accused of murder. Henry has denied any involvement.
Henry was to oversee the work of a “Provisional Electoral Council”, organizing Haiti’s long-pending presidential and parliamentary elections for November 2021.
But about a year later, Henry remained the US-backed head of state of Haiti. There has been no election. Meanwhile, the country’s bicameral National Assembly legislature, which has to provide ratification checks or balances on executive branch power, is inactive as the country’s highest court.
Henry is a leader who has no domestic control over power – a dictator.
Foote, who was appointed envoy shortly after the assassination, thinks the Del Rio camp is the reason Biden officials have looked the other way.
Beginning around September 18, 2021, a massive and squid camp that would quickly peak at 17,000 mostly Haitian immigrants suddenly formed on the Texas side of the Rio Grande under the bridge between Del Rio in Texas and Ciudad Acua in Mexico. Went.
White House advisers saw the Texas crisis as a serious political threat to Democratic prospects in the 2022 midterm elections.
The Biden administration decided to deport most Haitians by air from Laughlin Air Force Base outside Del Rio. But this required formal Haitian approval. Henry agreed.
What would be 58 flights from the Del Rio camp, carrying about 9,000 Haitians from Texas, began landing at Port-au-Prince on about 20 September, and on 27 September Henry ended the Provisional Electoral Council ahead of the elections.
There was nothing he could have done, says Foote, without American support and Henry’s effective anointing into indefinite power, whose input senior State Department officials told him they didn’t want because the decision had already been made.
On 22 September, Foote resigned over this weakening of Haitian democracy, with his departure only stemming from moral objections to the Hawaiian expulsion from Del Río.
The “biggest reason” he resigned, Foote tells me, was to “overrun,” Henry’s moralizing the Biden government to crush democracy-restoring processes in return for Henry’s agreement to accept deportation flights from Texas. There was reprehensible support from
“I believe they feared immigration as a midterm issue and beyond,” Foote says.
In its haste to scrape Haitian democracy, Foote said, the Biden administration showed no allegiance to its highest immigration policy ideals: its dedication to addressing the so-called “root causes” of immigration across the US border, such as poverty, Violence, and poor governance.
“We are only adding to the human tragedy in a place where the state has already failed, and by doing so is creating a greater demand for emigration,” says Foote. “Whereas, if we did it like proper adults and thought about the best way to do it, we could address the drivers of emigration and reduce the amount of emigration.”
Biden is also facing critics in his own party.
In March, seven US members of Congress pushed Biden to withdraw support for Haiti’s Prime Minister Ariel Henry and instead pushed for a transitional government.
“If we see what are the reasons behind this [the immigration]It really comes down to the political instability that is driving the ongoing crime in Haiti,” Haitian-U.S. Representative Sheila Cherfilas-McCormick (D-Fla.) told Reuters.
But an agreed-upon strongman is better for an elected government that can stop the flights.
As The Wall Street Journal reported last year, “some of Mr Biden’s top advisers, who supported mass deportations, said that the images of migrants under the bridge weeks after the chaotic withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan led to this criticism. that the administration was losing control of difficult situations.
Amid the electoral setbacks in Virginia and New Jersey for Democrats at the time and the “clutter” of the Del Rio camp, The Washington Post reported, the White House found itself under pressure to “avoid further scenes of chaos at the border”. . Top liberal advisers viewed the crisis “almost entirely from a political lens”, the newspaper reported.
And even though the Biden administration had decimated Donald Trump’s policies, it knew that Hawaii deportations were highly effective at curbing illegal immigration.
By the end of September 2021, about 8,000 Haitians had been deported and the camp was mostly forgotten by the media.
The Biden administration made a show of ending Del Rio flights under pressure from the party’s moderate progressive wing, which was angered by them. But in December 2021, as Haitian numbers began to climb again, the administration resumed Haitian deportation flights.
Henry was still there to accept the more than 10,000 returned Haitians from January to April 2022. A new similar Haitian camp was never built again. Henry still has not re-established the Provisional Electoral Council.