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Reauthorize the Haiti Stabilization Initiative

The Haiti Stabilization Initiative, or HSI, has proven to be a success in bringing stability to Cité Soleil and contributing to security in Port-au-Prince generally.

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The Haiti Stabilization Initiative, or HSI, has proven to be a success in bringing stability to Cité Soleil and contributing to security in Port-au-Prince generally. It has also been a useful mechanism for fostering interagency cooperation among USG components operating in Haiti. It is not without justifiable criticism, but it is hard to deny the stabilizing effect it has had on the country.

If the Defense Department does not reauthorize HSI for fiscal year 2010, it could make matters worse than they were before. The United States raised Cité Soleil’s expectations with the program and could dash them again by failing to continue the community building projects that have been so successful. Gangs and other elements could take advantage of such disillusionment and generate insecurity again in Cité Soleil with implications for security throughout the capital. And the USG would rob itself of an invaluable interagency tool by not extending HSI through this critical dual-window of opportunity.

Recognizing that HSI is a so-called “1207” short-term project, now is the wrong time to end the program. The gains have been too great—and remain too fragile—to terminate the program now. A number of studies have been conducted which suggest useful reforms to the 1207 process, not the least of which is allocating such stabilization program funds directly to the State Department instead of routing them through the Pentagon. Imperfect as it is in its present form, the HSI is also an indispensible tool of interagency cooperation in the promotion of sustainable security in Haiti.

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