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Haitian-American delegation travels to earthquake-stricken nation to meet with new prime minister

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The Miami-based U.S. Southern Command has been assisting with aid distribution in Haiti’s southern peninsula for about two weeks.

The region is facing the hurricane season after the 7.2 magnitude earthquake destroyed nearly 130,000 homes. The aftershocks continued after Aug. 14. More than 2,200 died. The crisis hit just after President Jovenel Moise’s July 7 assassination.

U.S. Marines and Haitian aid workers unload food from a VM-22 Osprey at Jeremie Airport, Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021, in Jeremie, Haiti. The VMM-266, "Fighting Griffins," from Marine Corps Air Station New River, from Jacksonville, N.C., are flying in support of Joint Task Force Haiti after a 7.2 magnitude earthquake on Aug. 22, caused heavy damage to the country. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

A delegation of The National Haitian American Elected Officials Network, a nonprofit organization based out of Orlando, traveled to Haiti on Monday.

They plan to meet with Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry and officials with President Joe Biden’s administration who are working on the $32 million effort to help the earthquake-stricken nation.

NHAEON delegate Florida Rep. Marie P. Woodson, who was born in Port-de-Paix, said since Henry, a 71-year-old neurologist, just assumed office on July 20th the Haitian American community wants to understand his plans.

“We know things are not good down there,” said NHAEON delegate Alix Desulme, a councilman of the city of North Miami.

Food is loaded onto a VM-22 Osprey at Toussaint Louverture International Airport, Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The VMM-266, "Fighting Griffins," from Marine Corps Air Station New River, from Jacksonville, N.C., are flying in support of Joint Task Force Haiti after a 7.2 magnitude earthquake on Aug. 22, caused heavy damage to the country. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

The delegation includes Florida Rep. Marie P. Woodson, who was born in Port-de-Paix; Michael Joseph, a Haitian-American commissioner of the city of North Miami Beach; and Mary Estimé-Irvin, a Haitian-American councilwoman of the city of North Miami.

The group departed for a one-day trip on Monday morning out of Fort Lauderdale International Airport.

The itinerary also includes a helicopter tour and meetings with U.S. Agency for International Development officials working in Haiti; Michele Sison, the U.S. ambassador to Haiti; and Bocchit Edmond, the Haitian ambassador to the U.S.

A Haitan aid worker tosses a hygiene kit while unloading a VM-22 Osprey at Jeremie Airport, Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021, in Jeremie, Haiti. The VMM-266, "Fighting Griffins," from Marine Corps Air Station New River, from Jacksonville, N.C., are flying in support of Joint Task Force Haiti after a 7.2 magnitude earthquake on Aug. 22, caused heavy damage to the country. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

The visit comes just as a group of more than 300 nonprofit organizations in the U.S., including the Haitian-American Diaspora Council and the National Immigration Law Center, in the U.S. sent a letter to Biden and U.S. Homeland Security asking to halt the deportation of Haitian migrants.

Last week, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents arrested more than 40 undocumented migrants who arrived at Crandon Park in Key Biscayne.

Read the letter

Letter from 300 nonprofit organizations to President Joe Biden asking him to halt deportations to Haiti. (NAHA)

Local 10 News Reporter Glenna Milberg contributed to this report.


About the Authors:

Trent Kelly is an award-winning multimedia journalist who joined the Local 10 News team in June 2018. Trent is no stranger to Florida. Born in Tampa, he attended the University of Florida in Gainesville, where he graduated with honors from the UF College of Journalism and Communications.

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.