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Senate confirms ambassador to Haiti amid political turmoil

The Senate overwhelmingly voted to confirm Dennis Hankins as the ambassador to Haiti on Thursday, as the Caribbean country struggles amid rising gang violence and political instability.

Hankins will be the first full ambassador for the country since October 2021, when Michele Sison left the post. Hankins’s appointment passed in an 89-1 vote.

Rampant gang violence quickly increased in Port-Au-Prince in late February, when Prime Minister Ariel Henry left for Kenya to establish and organize a United Nations-backed multinational police mission. The violence led the U.S. government to urge all Americans out of the country, evacuate the U.S. Embassy and deploy a group of Marines.

Henry remains unable to return to Haiti due to the violence and is staying in Puerto Rico. He announced he will resign Tuesday, endorsing a U.S.-backed transitional council that has faced opposition from some Haitian political leaders.

Hankins, a career member of the foreign service, previously served as the ambassador to Mali and Guinea. He worked in the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince early in his career with the State Department.

Before the vote Thursday, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) described the need for a full ambassador as dire.

“We are on the verge of having a failed state roughly 800 miles from our shores,” he said on the floor.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced his state will deploy extra resources to South Florida and the Keys starting Thursday in anticipation of a wave of migrants from Haiti, while the Biden administration has floated using Guantanamo Bay as a processing center for Haitians, CNN reported.


Source: The Hill

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