Florida Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar (R) has co-introduced legislation that supports a key industry of Haiti. The legislation would renew the Haiti Economic Lift Program (HELP) for ten years. The bipartisan effort comes as the country and the Caribbean region faces political instability.
In a statement, Salazar, the Chair of the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee, commented on the need for HELP, saying that “in the middle of a crisis of biblical proportions in Haiti, it is vital that businesses remain in the country to provide jobs, growth, and stability.” “The HOPE/HELP trade programs employ over 10,000 people in Haiti, and I am fighting to renew these programs for another 10 years,” she affirmed, urging Congress to “ensure these policies continue for the good of the Haitian people and stability in the region.”
Florida Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick (D), the Co-Chair of the Haiti Caucus, praised the effort.
“To create long-term stability in Haiti, there must first be a solid foundation for economic opportunity and growth,” Cherfilus-McCormick explained, adding that the program “has helped do just this, boosting the apparel sector and spurring job creation across the country.” Calling on the program to continue uninterrupted, Cherfilus-McCormick called on Congressional support.
In August 14, 2021, over 2,2000 people were killed during an earthquake. The tragedy damaged Haiti’s economy and infrastructure, causing widespread calamity. With the HELP Extension Act, Haiti’s economy would be given a chance to stabilize as authorities seek to rebuild by reauthorizing the Haiti Economic Lift Program apparel import for an additional ten years, through 2035.
Earlier this year, Florida Senator Marco Rubio (R) joined a bipartisan effort in the Senate to extend the trade program. According to a press release from his office, the Florida Senator supports the program because “it is in our national interest to help Haiti as it faces unimaginable hardships as a result of political corruption, natural disasters, and rampant crime.”