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Washington, DC- Today, House Foreign Affairs Committee Lead Republican Michael McCaul gave the following remarks at a full committee hearing on Haiti at the Crossroads: Civil Society Responses for a Haitian-led Solution.

Watch here.

-Remarks as delivered-

“Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I echo your concerns for the crisis in Haiti, and let me just say, you’ve been a real, true champion for the people of Haiti, and I commend you for that.

Recent events, such as rising levels of violence and political instability, highlight the fragility of Haiti’s democracy.

Sadly, this is a reality that Haiti has consistently struggled with on top of extreme poverty, corruption, and other endemic challenges since its transition from dictatorship to democracy in 1987.

These dire conditions in Haiti have only declined since the assassination of former president Moise in July 2021, along with another devastating earthquake just a month earlier.

Natural disasters such as the 2010 earthquake and Hurricane Matthew in 2016 continue to hinder Haiti’s ability to rebuild and thrive.

Haiti consistently ranks as the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, where nearly 60% of the population lives below the national poverty line.

Despite US and multilateral efforts, as of August 1st, 2020, only 1.4% of Haiti’s entire population of 11.5 million are fully vaccinated against COVID.

Haiti remains the second-largest US, foreign aid recipient, in the Western Hemisphere, with the United States providing over $5 billion since the 2010 earthquake in development, reconstruction, and relief assistance.

Given the continuing and worsening challenges in Haiti, we must question whether US assistance is achieving its intended objective.

Despite our continued investment in the stability, we’ve not seen real, tangible improvements.

As we examine these issues, we must find ways in which the United States can help secure a safer and more secure future for this neighboring nation.

I remain deeply troubled by the deteriorating security conditions and growing levels of crime and violence.

Corrupt oligarchs and political elites use gangs as powerbrokers to advance their personal interests.

These violent organizations are guilty of horrific levels of violence and gross human rights abuses.

The New York Times reported a recent incident of a one-month-old baby girl found dead, her body riddled with bullets, following a gang attack in Cite Soleil.

Last December, gangs kidnapped 17 missionaries, 16 Americans and 1 Canadian, who were working at an orphanage.

And while they have since been freed, gangs kidnapping for ransom remains a growing problem.

Unfortunately, lawlessness remains rampant, and this continues to threaten the potential for Haiti to establish any amount of stability and governance.

Haiti’s government’s continued diplomatic recognition of Taiwan: As the Chinese Communist Party increases its oppressive influence in Latin America with their debt trap diplomacy, the fact that Haiti maintains this relationship is of strategic importance to the United States.

As Haiti’s neighbor, the United States is safer because of the positions taken by our partners in preventing the expansion of the Chinese Communist Party’s malign influence in the Caribbean.

And while Haiti’s challenges are difficult, the United States must remain committed to stopping these barbaric gangs and supporting the Haitian people’s efforts to restore democracy.

Sustainable solutions to Haiti’s crisis must come from the people themselves.

As a partner and neighbors, we remain committed to help, yet change must come from within.

So, I want to thank, again, Chairman Meeks for convening this important hearing, so we can hear directly from the members of the Haitian civil society here today, and the former US ambassador to Haiti, who can best explain how the United States can play a productive role in these efforts.

And with that, I yield back.”