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US blocks ex-Haitian PM Lamothe from entering country, citing corruption

Tan KW
Publish date: Sat, 03 Jun 2023, 02:27 PM
Tan KW
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PORT-AU-PRINCE - The United States on Friday blocked former Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe from entering the United States over what Secretary of State Antony Blinken said was his "involvement in significant corruption."

"This action renders Lamothe generally ineligible for entry into the United States," the State Department said.

In its statement, the State Department accused Lamothe of misappropriating "at least $60 million from the Haitian government's PetroCaribe investment and social welfare fund for private gain."

Lamothe, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment, resigned in 2014 following weeks of protests calling for him and then-President Michel Martelly to step down.

Citing an unnamed U.S. official, the Miami Herald reported that Lamothe, who has a home in Miami, left the United States late last month and that the State Department issued the travel ban once that had been confirmed.

A rising star in Haitian politics in the early 2010s, Lamothe stepped down amid rising frustration about alleged corruption in his government and a lack of transparency involving funds from a Venezuelan program known as PetroCaribe intended for Haiti's rebuild after the catastrophic 2010 earthquake.

Canada sanctioned Lamothe last November alongside Martelly and another former prime minister, Jean Henry Ceant, as part of measures targeting alleged backers of armed gangs in the country.

At the time, Lamothe was quoted in Canadian media as saying that Ottawa was misinformed and he intended to defend himself in court.

Heavily armed gangs are now thought to control large parts of Haiti, displacing tens of thousands amid a worsening humanitarian crisis that the United Nations said could put 100,000 children at risk of starving to death.

The current caretaker government of Prime Minister Ariel Henry requested last October an international strike force to help restore order.

While countries have been wary of sending troops in support of Henry's unelected government, Canada and the United States have launched a series of sanctions against Haitian political figures and businessmen.


 - Reuters

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