WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Clay Higgins (R-LA) delivered an official letter today to the U.S. State Department’s Acting Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor calling for increased assistance in securing U.S. rice and other food shipments in Haiti. The request follows growing gang-related violence, unrest, and the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse.
“Haiti is the top market for U.S.-grown milled rice and has been a loyal and growing market for many years, and the people of Haiti have a strong demand for our product. In recent years, we have shipped about 450,000 metric tons of rice valued at more than $200 million to Haiti annually,” Congressman Higgins wrote. “Unfortunately, the unrest has made unloading rice shipments in Haiti difficult and dangerous. Because of the value of rice as a staple food in Haiti, shipments are prioritized as targets by local gangs and even hired, armed security is unable to prevent theft. These armed robberies often result in the shipment not being delivered to its intended destination.”
“While the continued theft of U.S. rice shipments causes export market and safety concerns, I am worried that this will further increase food insecurity in Haiti. As you and your staff throughout the Department know, food insecurity is the number one driver of conflict and violence,”Congressman Higgins continued. “I ask your help in working with the United Nations to intervene in Haiti and establish peace, or at the very least, better secure the delivery of all critical food inland to the people of Haiti.”
The full letter is available below or as a pdf here.
“The violence and unrest in Haiti ebbs and flows and has been made worse as a result of natural disasters, COVID-19, and the lack of government enforcement of law. Without something changing, like intervention by the UN or some sort of physical support to bring peace to the nation, Haiti will have trouble recovering from this situation,” Louisiana rice miller and chair of USA Rice Bobby Hanks said. “USA Rice appreciates Congressman Higgins’ leadership in addressing the critical situation experienced by our neighbors to our South.”