Queens congressman Gregory Meeks said that the current status quo in Haiti, including an increase in kidnapping and gang violence, is unsustainable.
Meeks, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, made the comments during a Zoom meeting which was broadcast live on Facebook on Wednesday evening. Comments and shares on social media indicate that the event was viewed by more than 400 people, including members of the Haitian community.
Meeks, who has previously called for a transitional government in Haiti said that elections, including a constitutional referendum, are not feasible under current conditions.
“I will continue to urge the Department of State to use their voice and vote within [international] institutions to ensure that U.S. taxpayer dollars are not spent in support of this referendum,” said Meeks, a Democrat and member of the Congressional Black Caucus, during the town hall.
Haitian President Jovenel Moise, who has ruled by executive decree since January 2020, has scheduled a constitutional referendum for June 27. Legislative and presidential elections will follow on Sept. 19.
But Moise’s calls to change the constitution were met with mass protest in Haiti and abroad on March 28-29, which overlapped with the 34th anniversary of Haiti’s current constitution.