By the Caribbean Journal staff
Haiti’s government said it “vehemently protests” the recent decision by the United States State Department to issue a new travel warning for the country, Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe’s office announced in a statement Wednesday.
Haiti said it wanted to “reassure” the Haitian diaspora and foreign travelers that they can do so “peacefully,” pointing to efforts the government said it had taken to strengthen security institutions.
The government said its development plan for 2012 to 2016 would increase the number of Haitian National Police officers by more than 50 percent and other measures aimed at strengthening police institutions.
According to the statement, such projects challenged the “travel warnings” recently published by the US and by Canada, who, Haiti said, were the largest funders of the police force in Haiti.
The US travel warning had cited warnings of kidnappings in the country, including several of US citizens.
In response, Haiti’s government asked “who from the national or international community did not applaud the dismantling of a large kidnapping network led by a powerful Haitian businessman as the beginning of the end of this practice in the national territory?”
That statement appeared to refer prominent businessman Clifford Brandt, who was arrested (and later confessed) to kidnapping charges in the autumn of 2012.
The US also mentioned the continued incidence of cholera in the country, something Haiti’s government said had seen a “marked regression of the disease.”
That has been the case, although a pair of recent hurricanes in the country led to a resurgence of the disease, according to international organizations like the UN.
“As paradoxical as it may seem it is clear that these warnings are incompatible with progress made in the field and are definitely harmful to the image of the country at a time when the Martelly/Lamothe Administration combines every effort to place Haiti on the international map,” the statement read.