Haiti’s President Rex Tillerson Meets with Haitian Officials

Cholera returns to Haiti as nation lurches from one crisis to the next


Marilyn Hager

On the day before his departure for Cuba, the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Monday met with top Haitian officials at the Presidential Palace on the grounds of the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York.

A few days earlier, President Jovenel Moise sent a letter dated January 24, 2020 on behalf of his delegation to the Haitian presidency expressing his country’s readiness to work together with the United States to fight against cholera outbreaks in Haiti and prevent the spread of the illness in the whole of the Americas and beyond.

In his letter, President Moise called on the Haitian authorities “to work in close concert with the [Central American] regional organization to identify the most appropriate and effective measures to prevent, and to alleviate, the spread of this disease in Haiti, and the entire region.”

On December 20, a man in Port-au-Prince died of cholera. While initially thought to be the victim of a traffic accident, the government later identified him as a man who had traveled from Port-au-Prince to the Dominican Republic. Three weeks after his death, the Dominican government confirmed that his death was attributable to cholera. While the Dominican Republic had confirmed the man had traveled by means of a cruise ship to their nation from Port-au-Prince, Haiti had not reported the death to them. Instead, a medical examiner in the Dominican Repubilcan Republic identified that the cholera-infected man contracted the disease by drinking water from a polluted source and had then traveled to the Dominican Republic, where he was buried in an unmarked grave. After his burial, the Dominican Republic had not informed the Haitian authorities of the man’s death. Only in the weeks after the cholera infection’s discovery did the Dominican Republic officially confirm the death.

From the beginning, the Haitian Health Ministry said it believed the cholera infection was not the man’s fault. But instead of taking action to eliminate the outbreak of cholera in Haiti, the government said it intended to take measures to contain the

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