Former special envoy to Haiti criticizes Biden's 'recipe for disaster' approach

Daniel Foote says the U.S. backing of the country's new leader is a bad thing
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January 11, 2022 8:05am

Updated: January 11, 2022 8:54am

Former Biden administration special envoy to Haiti, Daniel Foote, is speaking out against the president's policy approach to the impoverished country, warning that it could further destabilize the nation that is already teetering on the brink of collapse.

Over the past year, Haiti has experienced the (unsolved) assassination of its president, a devastating earthquake, and an assassination attempt on the life of the current acting prime minister. In addition, thousands of Haitians were deported from encampments at the U.S. Southern border back to their home nation. 

Foote recently told the Hill that he disapproves of the administrations handling of the Haitian migrant issue.

"Desperate people without anything being reintroduced into a city with tens of thousands of displaced people already from the gangs – recipe for disaster," he said.

Foote, who had been tasked with advising the State Department on peace and stability measures in Haiti, handed in his resignation in September after, he said, he found out on TV about the administration's plan to send 15,000 Haitians camped out under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas, back to the Caribbean nation.

Foote felt he was unable to shape the current administration's policy positions on a rapidly changing political situation in Haiti. 

 Ariel Henry is serving as the acting prime minister of Haiti. He has the backing of a number of foreign diplomats, including the U.S. ambassador to the region. Foote, however, believes Henry is extremely fallible. 

"It became clear to me that the United States was just going to back Ariel Henry unless he died or something. That they were just behind him and they had put all their chips behind him," he said.

Backing from the U.S. for Henry is seen as suspect by some Haitians, who believe it could yield a repeat instance of failed U.S. diplomacy in the struggling nation. 

Several months ago, Foote testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He spoke to legislators about the civil society groups in Haiti that he says are now positioned to rebuild the country's political landscape. But, he argued, that path forward will likely not include the leadership of Henry.