US Wants Haitians to Deal With Haiti’s Security Issues

todd robinson haiti
Todd D. Robinson, Assistant Secretary of State for Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, speaks during a press conference at the Unites States embassy in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

The United States assistant secretary for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, Todd D. Robinson, says while the international community will seek to assist Haiti to resolve its security problems, in the end, it is up to Haitians themselves to deal with the situation in the country.

“There are authorities in Haiti who are responsible for the security of Haiti, in particular the PNH (Haitian National Police), he said, adding “we will continue to work with members of the government around this problem of insecurity.

“But it is not the international community that will intervene to save Haiti. It will be the Haitians, the Haitian authorities and the PNH who are responsible for the security of the country,” said Robinson, who is ending a three-day visit to the country on Wednesday.

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“Let’s be clear. Haiti faces a number of challenges, but gangs are the greatest threat to citizen stability. The US government takes this threat extremely seriously,” said Robinson as he announced the donation of the first tranche of 60 vehicles to the PNH. In addition, 200 pieces of protective equipment for the police will be delivered soon.

“These donations show our commitment to support the National Police in its efforts to improve security and protect the population,” said Robinson.

“During this trip, I had the opportunity to witness first-hand the cooperation between the Haitian government and the United States government in security assistance. We are proud to contribute to the growth of the PNH as a responsible professional institution and to the strengthening of its capacity.”

Criminal gangs have been blamed for a series of kidnappings including the abduction of 17 missionaries, including 16 of them from the United States.  Efforts to negotiate their release are ongoing, with the leader of the 400 Mawozo gang that kidnapped the group, Wilson Joseph, demanding a US$17 million ransom for their release.

Robinson made it clear that Washington does not plan to send troops to Haiti but is working closely with officials “to release safely and as quickly as possible” the 16 U.S. citizens and one Canadian who were kidnapped on October 16.

Haiti is also recovering from the July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moise and the August 14 that killed more than 2,200 people, mainly in the southeastern section of the country.

In addition to the kidnappings, the gangs are also blamed for blocking gas distribution terminals and hijacking supply trucks, which officials say has led to a shortage of fuel.

Earlier this week, the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) said in a statement it was extremely concerned about the lack of fuel and called on all actors involved to do everything necessary to ensure a steady supply of gasoline.

“The lack of delivery of petroleum products constitutes a serious obstacle to the provision of essential services as well as to the movement of people and goods,” it said.

Police Chief Frantz Elbé said authorities are aware that trucks carrying goods such as rice, sugar and cement are passing through gang-controlled territory but fuel trucks are not. He said police have a security plan to ensure gas will be delivered, but he did not elaborate.