Surprise in Haiti over State Dept. appointment of Kenneth Merten as chargé d’affaires

Secretary of State Antony Blinken appointed Kenneth Merten, the former U.S. ambassador to Haiti during the country’s devastating 2010 earthquake, as chargé d’affaires in Port-au-Prince on Tuesday, catching Haitian civil society groups and political parties off guard. “I am proud to announce that Ambassador Kenneth Merten will return,” Blinken wrote on Twitter. “The United States is a steadfast partner to Haiti, and we remain committed to supporting the Haitian people.” A State Department official told McClatchy that Merten was chosen for the role due to his extensive experience in Haiti.

But at a time when the Biden administration says it is crafting a policy toward Haiti that learns from the lessons of 2010, some Haiti activists took to social media to question the appointment. Merten was ambassador to Haiti in 2010 when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton flew to Haiti and forced then-President René Préval to remove his candidate for succession, Jude Célestin, and replace him with Michel Martelly, a singer. Martelly’s supporters rioted for three days, and Clinton upon arriving told Préval that he would lose U.S. congressional aid and international support if he didn’t remove his candidate.

See the entire article at Miami Herald