The following is a letter that was sent by our HaitiChildren CEO and President to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in response to the hearing that was held on Wednesday, July 15th regarding an Overview of U.S. Policy Towards Haiti Prior To The Elections. You can view the hearing here.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Sub-Committee on Western Hemisphere
423 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-6225
July 17, 2015
Dear Chairman Rubio and Subcommittee Members:
We are executive officers of an American non-governmental organization specializing in the care, education and defense of poor children in Haiti. Over the past 21 years, we have invested more than $35 million in quality facilities, staff and programs in Haiti. Our schools have 1300+ students and our food-and-water programs benefit more than 5000+ every day. We also provide community programs including complimentary medical assistance, seminars, Public Service Announcements (to encourage and assist families in keeping their children), and other support for local villagers.
Earlier this year, we met in Washington with the national security advisors of Senator Perdue and Senator Gardner, and we talked via teleconference with your staffers Jamie Fly and Viviana Bova. The subject was our concern for the wellbeing and fate of Haitian children if the current cycle of elections there are not “fair and free.” Any problematic candidate certification, campaigning, registration, balloting, counting, reporting and/or transition to a new administration will result in widespread unrest, disruption and damage. A consequence is that our humanitarian work will become more difficult, dangerous and expensive, if not impossible, for an indeterminate period of time.
That is why earlier this week we watched with intense interest the webcast of your hearing on the status of American-Haitian relations, including the upcoming election cycle.
We understand from the webcast that the United States has committed and intends to expend $50 million for undisclosed activities relating to the elections. Anything short of transparency about American involvement in the Haitian election season is exceedingly important. We hope that you and your subcommittee members will insist upon full disclosure of the allocation of that money, who will receive and use the money, for what purposes and with what expected results, and that all the information will be included in the record of your hearing.
We are concerned that there will not be adequate security forces in place at the polls and at polling centers where ballots are tabulated. Our sources indicate that nearly 50,000 trained security forces will need to be in place on Election Day. Special Coordinator for Haiti Thomas Adams testified 5,000 security forces will be in place on Election Day. At minimum, there should be sufficient armed security at each and every polling station effectively to remove the likelihood of untoward voter influence and intimidation, discouragement or outright blocking of access. Hence we ask that security, assurances and related protocols be addressed as part of your hearing record.
We were heartened to hear Senator Boxer’s line of questioning regarding the restavek practice that is so pervasive in Haitian culture. If Senator Boxer was concerned by this, we hope that she and the rest of your committee will see fit to hold a subsequent hearing on that topic, with a suitable number of authoritative witnesses. Senator Rubio, we are grateful for the opportunity to share this submission with your committee. We are grateful for your interest in Haiti. Needless to say, we and others will not be satisfied with anything less than a Triple-A rating on American foreign policy and aid effectiveness in Haiti. We count on you to help raise the current low rating. Please count on us to assist you where desired.
CEO | Haiti Children/HaitiChildren
President | Haiti Children/HaitiChildren