Haitian PM Asks Cherfilus McCormick for U.S. Military and Financial Aid

Haitian PM Asks Cherfilus McCormick for U.S. Military and Financial Aid

Grayson Bakich
Grayson Bakich
July 9, 2024

Representative Sheila Cherfilus McCormick (D-FL) sat down with The Floridian to discuss her recent meeting with Haitian Prime Minister Garry Conille. They discussed the country's relationship with the United States as the Caribbean country grapples with a severe gang crisis and governmental collapse, a situation of utmost urgency. The Florida Congresswoman expressed optimism about the new PM's ability to solve the crisis and how America could help, suggesting that the Biden Administration and a second Trump Administration would respond radically differently.

Conille was appointed to act as interim Prime Minister by the transitional council in May. NPR reported on his credentials, including working with UNICEF and other aid agencies and briefly serving as Haiti's PM in 2011 and 2012. Last week, he met with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Rep. Cherfilus McCormick, who called Conille "a real diplomat."

Rep. Cherfilus McCormick described how the interim PM requested assistance from the United States in capturing Vitel'homme Innocent and Jimmy "Barbecue" Cherizier, prominent Haitian gang figures who are both wanted by the American government.

"They both have huge bounties on their heads from the US and [Conille] understands that he does not have the intelligence information to pick them up. So basically, he was like, 'Please come get them because that will help Haiti. You guys are looking for them; you have a huge bounty on their head," said Cherfilus McCormick, adding that such a request is logical because Conille is an obstetrician, not a military strategist.

We asked Cherfilus McCormick if she believed the Biden Administration would commit to the request, even if it meant deploying special forces. She suggested the United States under Biden would likely provide logistical support, as troops from Kenya have deployed into Haiti to fight the gangs already.

"There are a number of countries that are going to be bringing in the forces, and they are all trained; well trained. And so even the US can just give [Haiti] logistics, and they can actually [fight the gangs], or they can send that special operation," the Florida Congresswoman replied, ultimately saying the American response would be "much smaller than what traditionally has been, like 'Hey, US, send boots on the ground,' which is totally different than having that special force come in and uproot certain people or even having special forces strategically teach them how to do that."

In other words, Cherfilus McCormick suggested the United States could potentially send military advisors to Haiti's security forces, and "[the Biden White House] have been briefed on it, and they understand a lot of the requirements that people are looking for. It is coming from the administration and also both sides. Both sides of the aisle say, 'We want to see progress. Here is the money; we need to see progress."

The Floridian inquired about Haiti's future upon achieving stability, as it is historically impoverished. Cherfilus McCormick replied that government corruption played a more significant role in explaining the country's economic troubles even before the gang crisis, expressing optimism about Conille's ability to lead the transitional council without sinking into corruption himself.

"This Prime Minister is completely different because he was essentially appointed," she noted, "Not only that, he is a diplomat. He knows everybody who is on his team. They are actually leaving, nobody has the intention of staying on board. If anything, it seems like a lot of them live in the US and also are waiting to come back."

However, with the United States holding an election this November, former President Donald Trump could return to the White House, potentially jeopardizing the Biden Administration's progress.

"We [Democrats] are viewing this as 'Let's rebuild Haiti with as many hands we can have off of it and support them where needed," Cherfilus McCormick stated, "whereas the Republican administration takes a totally different view, kind of isolationist even. So that would jeopardize all of the forward movement that we see going on now," further suggesting Trump would be unlikely to help given his infamous "s**thole" remark.

"I think that previously, when Trump was in office he said what he felt about Haiti, that it was a 's**thole country.' And I do not think that he will be looking to do anything to help Haiti or any other Black country, to be honest with you. I think the policy will be on the countries he values," Cherfilus McCormick concluded.

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Grayson Bakich

Grayson Bakich

Florida born and raised, Grayson Bakich is a recent recipient of a Master’s Degree in Political Science at the University of Central Florida. His thesis examined recent trends in political polarization and how this leads into justification of violence.

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