No U.S. Troops in Haiti


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Source: Democracy Now!

After the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse at his home in Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s interim government says it has asked the United Nations and the United States to send troops to help secure key infrastructure. The U.S. has so far declined, but has sent an inter-agency team from the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI. Democratic Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says the situation in Haiti is “extraordinarily delicate and extremely fragile,” and that the U.S. should not send troops to the country. “Our role should be in supporting a peaceful transition and democratic process for selecting a new leader,” she says.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González.

As we’ve reported, Haitian police said Sunday they arrested a key figure in Wednesday’s assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse at his home in Port-au-Prince. Haiti’s National Police chief said they arrested Dr. Christian Emmanuel Sanon, Haitian-born Florida doctor, that he arrived in Haiti last month with, quote, “political objectives.” Police said Sanon is one of three Haitian Americans now arrested in the attack, along with 18 Colombians. The Miami Herald reports the Colombians said they were hired by Miami-based company CTU Security, which is run by a Venezuelan man named Antonio Emmanuel Intriago, who is known to be anti-President Maduro of Venezuela.

Haiti’s interim government says it has asked the United Nations and the United States to send troops to help secure key infrastructure. The U.S. has so far declined but has sent an inter-agency team from the Department of Homeland Security as well as the FBI.

Colombia has sent their head of military intelligence because the massive number of those involved, it is believed, with the assassination team are former Colombian military or Colombian.

For more, we are joined by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the U.S. representative for New York’s 14th Congressional District. She represents over 650,000 people across parts of Bronx and Queens, one of the most diverse districts in the United States.

We want to talk about the mayoral election here in New York. We want to talk about infrastructure and the Green New Deal, Congressmember Ocasio-Cortez. But this latest news in Haiti and the call for U.S. or U.N. troops from some sectors, the interim government of Haiti, what is your concern here with President Biden pulling the troops out of Afghanistan and the possibility of pressure to go back to — the U.S. going back to occupying Haiti?

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIOCORTEZ: Well, you know, I think there are an enormous amount of concerns. I, first of all, applaud the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, but this is — you know, the intention of that is to not relocate troops from Afghanistan to anywhere else. And I don’t believe that that was the intention in withdrawal from the White House, either.

But this situation is extraordinarily delicate and extremely fragile. And I do not believe right now that the introduction of U.S. troops, without — particularly without any sort of plan, sets any community, whether it’s the U.S. or whether it is Haitians, up for success.

I do believe that with the assassination, the people of Haiti and the country is in a very delicate moment, and our role should be in supporting a peaceful transition and a peaceful democratic process for selecting a new leader, and avoiding any sort of violence, but particularly in really carrying any — supporting any due process for justice here in the United States for any actors that may have been complicit on U.S. soil.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Representative Ocasio-Cortez, I wanted to ask you something closer to home: the mayoral race in New York City, the mayoral primary. Eric Adams has won that primary. He defeated a candidate that you were backing, Maya Wiley. I wanted to ask what your sense is of what the message of the Democratic voters were — or, was in this election.

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIOCORTEZ: Yeah. You know, I think anyone who’s here in New York City knows that this race, I would — you know, this race was not — I don’t believe it was a primarily ideological race. This was our first ranked-choice election for mayor in the city’s history. And I believe the race had a lot of different complicated dynamics. First and foremost, I think we had a COVID recovery front and center.

So, you know, I believe that Mayor Adams, or, you know, presumptive — presumptive, who may be presumptive mayor, Eric Adams, he ran a strong logistical operation. He ran a strong on-the-ground operation. And, you know, I do not believe that this is some large bellwether for the country or for Democratic voters in the country. I think it was very just indicative of a pretty wild race. And anyone who was following this race knows and can see the dynamics that were happening throughout, with candidates really cycling through surging at one moment and not at others.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And your hopes for recovery for New York City? Because, amazingly, because of COVID, many of these local governments and state governments now have more money as a result of federal assistance than they’ve ever had before. What are your hopes of the rebound of New York City?

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIOCORTEZ: Well, you know, I think the thing that we really need to focus on is an equitable recovery and a just recovery. And what’s really important to note is that even prior to COVID, the city was on a very dangerous precipice. Real estate prices and prices of housing were going through the roof. Rents were going through the roof. And small businesses were already starting to be driven out of — were already starting to be driven out of business and having mass closures because of the skyrocketing costs of real estate, housing, and rent on small businesses. And so, my hope is that this recovery is just and that it centers working people and it centers a recovery that also approaches, frankly, public safety from an evidence-based approach, which we know is centered in anti-violence and community-based programming.

AMY GOODMAN: So, let’s talk about that, very quickly. Congressmember, you, of course, have supported Tiffany Cabán. She won her race for City Council. For the first time, the majority of those who won in the primary are women. She said, quote, when talking about Eric Adams, “Even to look at who people voted for at every level of government, you look at districts like mine, where in Astoria Houses, overwhelmingly, voters were Tiffany Cabán and Eric Adams voters. Say what you want to say about Eric Adams, but, for example, he has been somebody who has supported the Crisis Management System and expanding violence interruption systems.” She’s supported by the Democratic Socialists of America. But nationally, I mean, you have President Biden meeting with Eric Adams today as he speaks about crime with Attorney General Merrick Garland and others. It’s taken by the Democrats as no to defund the police and yes to a heavy police presence. Do you think that’s the wrong message to take?

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIOCORTEZ: I do. I do think that it’s the wrong message to take. I do believe that very heavily, because — and it’s not just a matter of personal opinion, but we also see public polling showing that that is the wrong interpretation to take, as well.

Now, this is not to say that people should not be concerned with public safety. And what we do know is that people across the country are increasingly concerned about incidents of public safety. And this is mirrored by public health data that we see. There is an increase in crime and in incidents of violence as the country really reopens up from the pandemic, and the desperation created by, frankly, very poor U.S. response to the pandemic in terms of the economic devastation. And so, as things open up, we’re starting to see more crime and incidents of violence.

Now, that should absolutely be a point of concern, but the response to that should not necessarily be overpolicing. And Americans know that. We have seen recent polling — I believe from ABC News, but I could be mistaken on polling outlet — but margins from about 65 to 75% of those polled are showing that the way that we counter these increases in incidents is through economic opportunity and community investment in communities where these surges are happening. And we see that that’s not only where the polling is, but that’s what the data shows and that’s what the evidence shows is the best way to support reductions in crime. It is with anti-violence programs, which is one of the reasons why I’ve requested community funding projects to help support anti-violence programs, which can help reduce incidents and reoccurrence of violence by more than 50%, which is more effective than almost any policing strategy that we know of. And so, the message should not be that we should continue to overpolice and oversurveil people in order to create reductions in crime and increase public safety. And I think that the point that —

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Rep. —

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIOCORTEZ: Sure, go ahead.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Oh, I’m sorry.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Representative, I wanted to ask you about — in the infrastructure and the developing agreement between Democrats and Republicans on infrastructure, the concerns of you and other members of the Progressive Caucus about what is going to happen to efforts to combat climate change in these battles over infrastructure?

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIOCORTEZ: Well, I believe that the Progressive Caucus is rather united in the fact that we will not support bipartisan legislation without a reconciliation bill, and one that takes bold and large action on climate, drawing down carbon emissions, but also job creation and increasing equity and resilience for impacted communities, particularly frontline communities. And so, we’ve made that very clear and that a bipartisan agreement will not pass unless we have a reconciliation bill that also passes. And so, that is where we’ve drawn a strong line. And I believe that Speaker Pelosi, the White House and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer have taken that threat quite seriously. They know that we fully intend on acting out on that if a reconciliation bill does not come to the floor of the House.

And, you know, we have many — there’s many, many different actions that we need in a climate bill for reconciliation, whether it’s a Civilian Climate Corps, whether it is increased infrastructure and investment in rail, in mass transit, and whether it’s also centering frontline, Indigenous, Black and Brown and low-income communities that are polluted on and often experience the greatest brunt, and will be experiencing the greatest brunt, of climate change-related infrastructure failures.

AMY GOODMAN: So, this issue of trying to get a massive Green New Deal proposed — I mean, Bernie Sanders, of course, head of the Budget Committee, said $3 trillion is simply not enough to deal with what must be dealt with in this country — also involves this filibuster. And there are many right now, in the voting rights community, for example — and this all overlaps — who are saying just President Biden is simply not expending his political capital to get this dealt with, because he has a very limited amount of time, possibly, when the Democrats are in power in the Senate and he’s the president and Democrats control the House, to get some of this groundbreaking legislation through. Tomorrow he’ll be giving a voting rights speech in Philadelphia. What does he have to do? What are you saying behind the scenes? What is Schumer saying? What is your relationship like with Schumer? What are you demanding they do that they’re failing to do right now?

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIOCORTEZ: Well, I do believe that there is a sense, particularly among members of Congress, that believe that the White House is leaving some of its leverage on the table in terms of really pushing on voting rights and the passage of H.R. 1, and particularly in its conversations with those in the Senate, whether it is Senator Manchin, Sinema — or, frankly, there are others. It’s not just Manchin and Sinema that have been hesitant on the filibuster, but I believe that there are other members of the Senate that are essentially hiding behind them in their hesitations, as well. And, you know, the White House has been stepping up slightly in that campaign, and I think that’s evidenced by their decision to make a speech tomorrow.

But I do believe that all of these conversations are quite interlinked, and I believe that it should be coming up in every conversation and every negotiation, whether it is infrastructure, whether it is voting rights and so on, that, you know, the White House needs to be making explicit, frankly, to members of Congress the way that it is — what they are doing, particularly within our own party, to make sure that this gets done, because the last thing that we want to see is a lot of wonderful speeches and public-facing statements but no actual passage of critical voting rights legislation.

And I think that this is — it cannot be stated enough that the United States is in a very fragile and delicate precipice of democracy in our own right. And if we do not get H.R. 1 passed, if we do not pass it in this term, I think I and many other individuals, frankly, are quite fearful for the state and future of our democracy. It is that simple. We have state Republican parties that are setting up the infrastructure and, frankly, the practice to overturn the results of an election. And that includes the presidential election.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And speaking of presidential elections, former President Trump delivered the keynote address at the Conservative Political Action Conference, known as CPAC, in Dallas, Texas, over the weekend. He captured over 70% of the 2024 GOP presidential nomination poll at CPAC. Should Democrats be concerned about his continued popularity?

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIOCORTEZ: I mean, I think the whole country should be concerned. You know, I think that there are two minds of this. One is that I do believe that whether he intends to run or not, former President Trump will be indicating and will continue to essentially tease the possibility. So, what that is to say is to not discount the ability and the popularity that he may have and the possibility of him running again. But it is also to say that he may not, but wants to continue his — essentially, his vise grip over the Republican Party. And so there are two distinct possibilities here. But I do believe that the Democratic Party should be worried.

And that cuts straight to the voting rights provisions. And I do want to state that even Senator Manchin and some others have indicated that H.R. 4, the John Lewis Voting Rights, is what they would support instead. And I think while H.R. 4 is critical for passage, it does not solve this problem. And it is not a substitute for passing the For the People Act. One main and enormous provision is that H.R. 1, it is essentially retroactive, in that it will overturn and it will supersede many of these anti-democracy laws that are being passed in states across the country. And the Voting Rights Act doesn’t — I mean, the John Lewis — the John Lewis Voting Rights Act does not do that. It restores key provisions of the Civil Rights Act, but H.R. 1 is what will actually institute and reverse some of these very corrosive and very frightening, frankly, anti-democracy laws that are being passed in state governments across the country.

AMY GOODMAN: Congressmember, if the pandemic taught us anything, the horror of this last year, it is that we are all in this together, I mean, not only in this country, but all over the world. If one person is sick, we are all vulnerable, which means we all have to protect each other

According to The New York Times, at the end of March 30th, 86% of shots that have gone into the arms worldwide have been administered in high- or upper-middle-income countries. Only 0.1% of doses had been administered in low-income countries. In Haiti, for example, they haven’t gotten a shot. They haven’t gotten a vaccine at all.

What has to be done in this country? Now the discussion, today specifically, is: Should Americans get a third booster shot? And, of course, there are many areas of grave concern in the United States, where less than a third of the population is vaccinated, but let’s look at the rest of the world. What can the U.S. do, and you as a representative do, and Congress do?

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIOCORTEZ: Well, you know, I think that there’s a lot that we can do. And one thing that is extremely concerning is that if only the wealthy are being vaccinated, then the majority of the population in the world is not being vaccinated. And if that is the case, then we are not — we are not protecting ourselves from the virus, and we, frankly, are setting up the virus and COVID for being around for generations, if we continue at this pace.

AMY GOODMAN: We have 20 seconds.

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIOCORTEZ: So, I believe that we should — we should be examining tools, whether it’s the Defense Production Act or whether it is other modes of mechanism, that we take — we look at this as a defense issue and that we mobilize mass production of vaccines and export them across the world, and, in additionally, taking on the Big Pharma companies that are trying to profit off of mass vaccinations. They should be free and fully available to people around the world.

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