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General Says Crisis in Haiti Requires International Response

The crisis in Haiti requires an international solution that also includes the Haitian perspective, said Army Gen. Laura Richardson, commander of U.S. Southern Command. 

Surgeons perform surgery.
Surgery Center
Air Force airmen and surgical teams from Caribbean partner nations perform orthopedic surgery at Milton Cato Memorial Hospital during a mission in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, March 7, 2024.
Photo By: Air Force Tech. Sgt. Rachel Maxwell
VIRIN: 240307-F-AN818-1406

Southcom has a wide range of contingency plans and is prepared for a possible mass migration from Haiti or elsewhere, she said today at an Atlantic Council event. 

"We want to be able to do what's right and humane and be able to take care of the populations that are trying to escape the crisis," Richardson said. 

As of now, the U.S. doesn't have plans to send troops into Haiti, she said. The State Department is working with other governments in the region and internationally, as well as with nongovernmental organizations, to provide solutions. 

Richardson said there's a lot of international support for Guyana, as neighboring Venezuela disputes their common border. "We continue to watch the situation very, very closely," she said. 

A soldier dangles from rope hanging from a hovering helicopter as others on the ground watch.
Fast Rope Training
Military members from seven countries take part in fast-rope insertion and extraction training at Air Base London, Guyana, on July 17, 2023. Participants included people from Mexico, the Dominican Republic, St. Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, Belize and Guyana. The training was part of a U.S. Army-sponsored multinational exercise designed to build capabilities and interoperability.
Photo By: Courtesy of the Royal Bermuda Regiment
VIRIN: 230717-O-A4505-1748

When asked about a Chinese space facility in Argentina, Richardson said the U.S. continues its close collaboration with Argentine government. "That is for Argentina to decide on how that facility will remain, if it remains there, and what the way ahead for it is." 

Regarding China's strategy for the region, Richardson said Beijing is eager to import minerals and food from various nations. China's trade within Southcom's area of responsibility has gone from about $12 billion to about $300 billion over the last 20 years and is expected to double by 2035. 

She said China has also provided loans to nations in the region with strings attached. The U.S. doesn't do business with strings attached "because we're a like-minded democracy. We would like this region to remain free, secure and prosperous," Richardson said. 

Ships sail on the sea.
Caribbean Exercise
The littoral combat ship USS Billings participates in an exercise with the special mission ship U.S. Motor Vessel Kellie Chouest in the Caribbean Sea, Oct. 24, 2021.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Austin G. Collins
VIRIN: 211024-N-KY668-1618C

Equipment Swap 

Nine nations in the region have Russian military equipment, she said. The U.S. is offering to swap out that equipment for use in Ukraine and will backfill it with U.S. equipment, which is much better than Russian-made equipment. 

Richardson said she's enthused that women's peace and security efforts in the region are making progress. Women are being integrated into the military, thereby increasing readiness of nations. 

The general said she looks forward to continuing to engage with partners in the region to cut down on illegal fishing, mining and logging and the trafficking of people, drugs and counterfeit goods, as well as other criminal activities. 

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