US: Haiti needs more help to fight violence, hold elections – The Associated Press – en Español

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Officials from more than a dozen nations and several international organizations met Friday to discuss how to help Haiti tackle soaring violence and hold general elections as soon as possible following the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse a year ago.
Canada and the European Union each pledged an additional $3.9 million to help Haiti, adding to more than $294 million in international aid that has been promised since December. That includes an additional $48 million from the U.S. to help train police, improve security in Haitian courts and prevent violence, said Brian Nichols, assistant secretary with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs.
“I don’t want to sugarcoat anything,” Nichols said in a phone call with reporters. “The situation is extremely challenging.”
A United Nations special envoy warned last month that Haiti’s National Police needs immediate help to fight crime and violence because insecurity is rapidly deteriorating. Gang domination over territory has grown since Moïse was fatally shot at his home on July 7 and they control highways leading north and south from the capital.
In May alone, more than 200 killings and 198 abductions were reported in the country of more than 11 million people, which has only 12,800 active police officers.
Prime Minister Ariel Henry has said security needs to improve before Haiti can hold long-delayed general elections and he has not yet moved to create the electoral council needed for such a vote.
Nichols said that once the council is created, it will take at least six months to hold elections,
“We believe the role of the current government is to prepare as quickly as possible the conditions for elections and improved security,” Nichols said. “Its role is not to perpetuate itself in power but allow the Haitian people to express themselves at the polls.”
Nichols said that police still need more manpower, ammunition, weapons and protective gear and that the process of vetting, selecting and training new officers has gone slowly because authorities need to ensure they don’t hire corrupt individuals.
Haitian police officers have received training and equipment from countries including the U.S., Mexico, Canada, France, Mexico and Brazil.
Nichols said that Haiti’s future should be determined by Haitians themselves. Over the centuries, the international community has taken agency away from Haiti, he said: “And we always end up back in the same place. If we can’t have the patience to let Haitians determine their own future, then we’re never going to get out of this continuous cycle of international intervention.”


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