QUESTION: All right, so joining us is Ambassador Wendy Sherman, Deputy Secretary of State, to discuss the situation in Haiti and the surge in Haitian migrants at the U.S. southern border. So, Ambassador, thank you for taking the time. Good to see you again.
DEPUTY SECRETARY SHERMAN: Good to see you, too. And Michael, I think everybody listening to this shares all of our concern for the Haitian people and just the very difficult circumstances facing them and their country.
QUESTION: The President’s special envoy to Haiti has resigned, right? And I quote, “I will not be associated with the United States inhumane, counterproductive decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees and illegal immigrants to Haiti.” Do you agree or disagree with that?
DEPUTY SECRETARY SHERMAN: Michael, there have been multiple senior-level policy conversations on Haiti where all proposals, including those led by former Special Envoy Foote, were fully considered in a rigorous and transparent policy process. Quite frankly, some of those proposals were harmful to our commitment to the promotion of democracy in Haiti and to free and fair elections in Haiti so the Haitian people can choose their own future. For him to say that the proposals were ignored is, I’m sad to say, simply false.
QUESTION: He also wrote that the U.S. decision to support a political agreement with Ariel Henry continues, in his words, quote, “a cycle of international political interventions in Haiti that has consistently produced catastrophic results.” What’s your response to that?
DEPUTY SECRETARY SHERMAN: My response to that is how I began this, which is our interest is that the Haitian people can choose their own future in a free and fair election. We don’t take sides with anyone in terms of that future. That’s a decision for the Haitian people. We, of course, are talking to those who are currently leading the government in Haiti because one needs to in these circumstances, but we are for democracy in Haiti. And one of the ideas that Mr. Foote had was to send U.S. military back to Haiti. I have followed Haiti since the Clinton administration, and I can tell you that sending U.S. military into Haiti is not the answer that will solve the terrible situation that the Haitian people are currently facing. It just was a bad idea.
QUESTION: And who will replace Daniel Foote?
DEPUTY SECRETARY SHERMAN: I don’t know that we need a replacement. In part we had named a special envoy after the assassination of the president of Haiti in the aftermath of the horrible storms and earthquakes and all of the other plights that the Haitian people have had to face – the ongoing confrontation of poverty. But we have an excellent ambassador in Haiti, Michele Sison, who is a nominee for a future post here in the United States. We have tremendous faith in her and in her leadership.
QUESTION: Will the administration stand up a Haiti reconstruction commission, which we understand is under consideration, to aid in the rebuilding of the country after this series of recent crises?
DEPUTY SECRETARY SHERMAN: I think we’re looking at whatever facility we need to help the Haitian people. We are totally committed to that objective. We have since 2010 – I’m just looking at my notes here – the United States has made multiyear investments of over $5.1 billion in lifesaving humanitarian assistance as well as longer-term recovery, reconstruction, and development programs. Newly confirmed – and thank you United States Senate – Brian Nichols, our assistant secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs, will be going to Haiti next week with Juan Gonzalez, who is the senior director at the NSC, to see what is the best way forward here to make sure that we are talking to civil society so that we are hearing from the people of Haiti themselves to try to figure out what that path is. There have been ongoing assistance ever since the earthquake, of course.
QUESTION: Ambassador, a final question. Will the – Special Envoy Foote says the conditions are not in place at the moment for full and fair elections in Haiti this year. Do you agree with that?
DEPUTY SECRETARY SHERMAN: I think that Assistant Secretary Nichols will work with Ambassador Sison and listening to civil society to see what we can do to help make the judgments to get to a free and fair election as soon as possible for the Haitian people. Again, there’s nobody who doesn’t look at what is happening in Haiti – it is gut-wrenching. And we want to do everything we can to help the Haitian people. That’s always been the objective of U.S. foreign policy.
QUESTION: Ambassador, thanks again for your time. Good to see you.
DEPUTY SECRETARY SHERMAN: Thank you.
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