The United States is deeply concerned over Haiti’s ongoing political impasse, lack of accountability for human rights violations, and deteriorating security conditions. That was the message U.S. Representative to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield conveyed to Haitian President Jovenel Moise in a recent meeting.
Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield noted that preparations for the constitutional referendum scheduled for June 27 in Haiti have not been sufficiently transparent or inclusive, and she repeated that Haiti must hold free, fair, and transparent legislative and presidential elections in 2021. According to the readout of the meeting, Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield stressed that the Haitian people deserve the right to choose their leaders and have a government that serves them.
In an address to members of the Haitian diaspora, Julie Chung, Acting Assistant Secretary of State of the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, emphasized that representative democracy only works if people can regularly exercise their right to select their leaders. In Haiti, legislative elections that should have been held in 2019 are long overdue. The result has been an unchecked executive power since January 2020, with no separation of powers and no way for the branches of government to hold one another accountable.
“Haiti’s democracy cannot continue like this,” said Acting Assistant Secretary of State Chung. “We believe legislative elections are the democratic way to end Haiti’s prolonged rule by decree, and presidential elections are necessary to transfer power peacefully from one democratically-elected leader to another.”
Acting Assistant Secretary Chung acknowledged that Haiti faces many challenges, and that no single election can be “the magic charm that cures all of Haiti’s problems.” But, she stressed, “This does not diminish the fact that Haiti is in dire need of democratic consistency and institutions that serve the people…Prosperity simply cannot be achieved when the fundamental rules of democracy are manipulated or ignored. The creation and preservation of strong, democratic processes and structures are long-term defenses against dictatorship, partisanship, and greed. Without stability and rule of law, Haiti will struggle to attract foreign direct investments and retain its brightest minds.”
Acting Assistant Secretary Chung noted the United States has provided billions of dollars in development and humanitarian assistance for the needs of the Haitian people. In addition, in January, the U.S. announced a further $75.5 million for democratic governance and agricultural development. “But our investment in Haiti’s people,” she said, “will only be successful if Haitians also invest in their own democratic governance.”