(Port-au-Prince, Haiti) August 14, 2018 – United States Ambassador to Haiti Michele Sison visited Ouanaminthe in the Northeast Department of Haiti August 13-14. The trip focused on how the U.S. Embassy is supporting Haiti in strengthening border controls through POLIFRONT, domestic resource mobilization, countering trafficking in persons, and the role of the private sector in economic development along the border region.
Ambassador Sison and a U.S. Embassy delegation first visited the Haitian National Police’s (HNP) POLIFRONT base in Morne Casse, where the U.S. Embassy through the State Department’s INL Bureau has provided funding to IOM to provide materials and training to help establish POLIFRONT’s presence in the region. POLIFRONT has already demonstrated its increased capabilities, arresting suspected traffickers and smugglers and prohibiting contraband in the border areas. The U.S. Embassy (INL) is discussing a second agreement with IOM that will allow POLIFRONT to expand to other locations along Haiti’s border. “The United States is committed to its partnership with Haiti to combat transnational crime and all forms of illicit trafficking,” Ambassador Sison told HNP Director General Michel-Ange Gedeon, POLIFRONT Commander Marc Justin, and IOM representatives.
While in Ouanaminthe, Ambassador Sison also met with Ouanaminthe Mayor Demetrius Luma, and the goverment’s vice-delegate in Ouanaminthe, Arold Joseph, to discuss the importance of border security and development in the border area.
Ambassador Sison and the delegation then visited the General Tax Administration (DGI), the General Administration for Customs (AGD), and Immigration. Through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Customs Support project, the United States is providing $4 million towards a three-year initiative to modernize Haitian customs service processes for revenue collection, traveler processing and contraband interdiction. USAID and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) are collaborating to support this project, which also provides joint training to both Haitian and Dominican border agents for better control of merchandise movement across the border. Ambassador Sison and the delegation also met with representatives of the Haitian Red Cross, civil society, and the Institut du Bien-Être Social et de Recherches (IBESR child welfare agency) at the Ounaminthe border to discuss trafficking, child protection, and migration issues.
The final stop for the U.S. Embassy delegation was to assess the role of the private sector at the border at the CODEVI industrial park in Ouanaminthe. In 2010, U.S. Congress passed “The Haiti Economic Lift Program Act” (HELP) to help create sustainable support for Haiti’s economy by expanding tariff benefits for Haitian textile and apparel exports to the United States. This law works in conjunction with the United States’ HOPE legislation, which mandated that U.S. Customs and Border Protection provide technical assistance to Haitian Customs. At CODEVI, where Haitian workers produce clothing for the U.S. market, the delegation met with Haitian workers benefitting from U.S. HOPE and HELP legislation.