Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today joined several Members of Congress in urging the president of the Haitian Senate, Dieuseul Simon Desras, to move forward with critical elections that have been delayed since 2011. Rubio joined his colleagues as part of a bicameral letter to Desras.
For more than three years, Haitian leaders have been engaged in serious efforts to find a way forward on a long-delayed electoral process to renew hundreds of key parliamentary and municipal offices. Failure to move forward on this process could lead to an unnecessary and damaging constitutional crisis in Haiti at a time when the people of Haiti are working towards a more prosperous and hopeful future.
“I urge Senator Desras and his supporters to put aside their narrow political differences and allow the Haitian Senate to meet and consider legislation needed for these elections to take place by October. Failure to do so, not only endangers Haiti’s democratic progress, but its very existence for which so many have sacrificed so much,” said Rubio. “It is with utmost respect that I join my colleagues in urging Senator Desras to help end this impasse and move forward with the necessary reforms.”
In addition to Rubio, the letter was signed by Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), and Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Joe Garcia (D-FL), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Frederica Wilson (D-FL), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Gregory Meeks (D-NY), John Conyers (D-MI), Ed Royce (R-CA), Albio Sires (D-NJ), Matt Salmon (R-AZ) and Nita Lowey (D-NY).
A PDF of the letter is available here. The full text of the letter is below.
September 15, 2014
Senator Simon Dieuseul Desras
President, Senate of Haiti
Dear Senator Desras:
As members of the United States Congress and as longtime friends of Haiti, we write to express our concern over the continued delay in the holding of critical elections this year in Haiti.
As elected representatives of the Haitian people, we are sure you and your colleagues share the conviction that free, fair, and credible elections are an indispensable tenet of any democracy. Haitians, like all citizens in a democracy, have a right to express their will through regular and timely elections for their government representatives. That is why we are deeply concerned that the Haitian Senate has been unable to pass the requisite legislation to authorize elections this year. We believe that Haitians deserve better than to have this fundamental democratic right continually delayed. We are deeply concerned that should the protracted political impasse continue, Haiti’s standing as a stable democracy could be at risk. This could have grave consequences, potentially reversing progress made in recent years and impeding the kind of development Haiti needs so badly.
We respectfully are writing to you, because we believe you can help end the impasse in the Senate by supporting the formation of a quorum to move the stalled elections legislation forward. It is in this spirit that we urge you to take a leadership role in passing the stalled elections legislation.
As advocates for Haiti in our own Congress, we pledge to work closely with your government and international partners to support free, fair and transparent elections. The Obama Administration ensures us that it will work with your government and international donors to support independent election monitoring to help ensure a fair election process for all candidates. But first, legislation must be passed to enable these elections to take place.
We urge you and your colleagues to quickly pass legislation to enable elections to take place, and we kindly ask that you share this letter and our concerns with all of your fellow Senators. We look forward to our continued collaboration in strengthening the U.S. – Haitian partnership. Thank you very much for your attention to this important matter.