A Man in Violence-Ravaged Haiti
With Presidential Drawdown Authority, Biden authorizes to provide up to $10 million worth of weapons, ammunitions and more to Haiti. AFP

NEW YORK CITY - As there are still no signs of chaos abating in Haiti, and facing roadblocks in getting a Kenya-led police mission deployed to the Caribbean island, President Joe Biden is turning to a little-known executive action to provide support.

Concretely, Biden turned to the Presidential Drawdown Authority in late March to aid Haiti in its recent conflicts. Under this action, the President authorizes Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to provide up to $10 million worth of weapons, ammunition, bullet-proof vests and helmets from "any agency of the United States Government" as well as military education and training from the Defense Department to assist the island.

Some of this assistance could also go to the Armed Forces of Haiti, known as the FadH, according to The Miami Herald.

But, overall, the help would be part of the larger US operation against crime and narcotics, a State Department official said.

"[The planned assistance] would support anti-crime and anti-narcotics objectives and foreign policy goals in Haiti and Demonstrate our commitment to providing urgently needed assistance for Haitian security forces," the State Department official said.

The authority is just some of the ways to get around congressional blocks and send funds to the country, whose police forces are struggling to face armed gangs who control most of the capital. In fact, Biden used the same strategy in early March to quickly get weapons to Ukraine to fight Russia.

For years, the US government refused to arm Haiti's security forces, limiting its assistance to providing police vehicles and other non-lethal equipment even as police officers struggled to fend off gangs wielding high-caliber, American-made assault rifles, The Miami Herald reports.

Now, with the implementation of this action, some observers hope it is a signal of the United States' changing security partnership with Haiti.

"It would be a welcome shift to allow the [police] and army to get what they need to maintain order, while restricting the flow to the gangs," said Keith Mines, director of Latin American programs at the United States Institute for Peace in Washington. "But all needs to be part of a larger security package, including large-scale training and equipping and advising of the security forces and a strategy for diversion of gang members to less destructive activities."

Biden also hoped to support a delayed Kenya-backed mission to aid Haiti. However, concerns over a lack of strategy led Republicans on the House and Senate foreign affairs committees blocking the $40 million in security assistance the White House aimed at receiving.

That money was part of a $100 million pledge the State Department has made to help get the Kenya-led Multinational Security Support mission off the ground.

"I want to be supporting but until I've been briefed on what the plan is and, where the money and guns are going to, I cannot in good conscience send money and guns down to a lawless society without a government," said Republican Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas.

"We have a long history in this country of arming countries with weapons and cash and it blows back on us," the Representative continued. "I want to make sure that what we're doing here makes sense, not only for the American taxpayer but for the Haitian people. Because if we arm the warlords and fund them, they will be the victims, the people of Haiti."

As the situation in Haiti continues to worsen, the U.S. The Department of State recently sent an email to registered US citizens who wished to leave the island. It said the deadline to do so is April 12.

© 2024 Latin Times. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.