Washington, DC – House Foreign Affairs Committee Lead Republican Michael McCaul delivered the following opening statement at a full committee hearing on policy recommendations on Haiti for the Biden Administration.

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– Remarks as Delivered – 

“Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you for holding this hearing on a critical issue in the Western Hemisphere.  

Haiti is facing a political, economic, and humanitarian crisis with its current President, Jovenel Moïse, ruling by decree for over a year. And while this is legal, it complicates the situation further.

Current events highlight the fragility of Haiti’s democracy – and sadly, Haiti has struggled consistently with political instability, extreme poverty, corruption, and other endemic challenges since its transition from dictatorship to democracy in 1987.  

Haiti’s progress has also been hindered by natural disasters like the 2010 earthquake and Hurricane Matthew in 2016. Haiti remains the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, where nearly 60 percent of the population lives below the national poverty line. And as a result of the COVID pandemic, Haiti’s economy has contracted by an estimated 4 percent.  

I am also concerned about the alarmingly high levels of crime and violence in Haiti and reports of local gangs, human rights abuses, and systemic corruption which are rampant.  And I worry about the capacity of Haiti’s justice system to fully investigate and hold criminals accountable.  

No matter how difficult the situation, the United States remains committed to supporting the Haitian people. Haiti is the second-largest recipient of US assistance in the Western Hemisphere, receiving over $180 million in FY20.  

These funds are used primarily for emergency food aid and distribution, global health programs, education, and security assistance. U.S. assistance has also helped build the Haitian National Police into a professional security force, and we should continue to support its development.

However, given the continuing challenges facing Haiti, I think it is fair to ask how effective our assistance has been and explore how our aid can achieve the desired outcomes.

I also want to recognize the government of Haiti for maintaining diplomatic ties with Taiwan and standing with the U.S. and the international community in acknowledging the fraudulent nature of the legislative elections organized by the Maduro regime in Venezuela last year. I commend them for taking these principled positions.

It is important for us to pursue policies that support the Haitian people in their efforts to address the serious challenges they are facing. So, I look forward to hearing from our witnesses today and with that I yield back.”