MIAMI (WSVN) - As Haiti deals with the aftermath of a devastating earthquake, Haitian Americans in South Florida now have the ear of a top government official.
Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas visited South Florida to speak at a news conference focused on helping Haiti after the earthquake over the weekend and the recent assassination of the country’s president.
Mayorkas will discuss what the United States is doing to help the island nation.
Meanwhile, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation chartered two planes to fly into the earthquake-ravaged nation.
“The focus of this flight is to get the life-saving materials into the hands of the doctors, the hospitals and the first responders,” AIDS Healthcare Foundation spokesperson Mike Kahane said.
He also met with the Cuban American community on Thursday morning in Coconut Grove.
“This issue screams for presidential leadership,” City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said. “We need to exercise and express the moral authority of this country that has been a beacon for freedom and democracy throughout the world since its existence.”
In Coconut Grove, Mayorkas talked about the Biden administration’s support for the Cuban people following last month’s historic demonstrations as the fight for freedom continues.
“This is a president who I am so thankful has made Cuba and freedom for the Cuban people and a transition to democracy in Cuba a priority,” U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., said.
“I think he’s definitely taken a stand,” Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said. “He’s shown the world that he recognizes the importance of what’s happening in Cuba.”
“We see they are taking the time, taking a lot of notes, asking a lot of questions, and some people have different opinions, but we all want the same: to make sure that Cuba will be free,” Emilio Estefan said.
Ahead of a similar meeting in Little Haiti, the Haitian American Professionals Coalition hosted a news conference.
“We see you. We hear you, and we are collaborating together to provide you with the support you need and that you deserve,” community activist Naomi Blemur said.
Several organizations have asked South Floridians to donate to help the country in crisis. Hours later, they met with Mayorkas inside Notre Dame D’Haiti Catholic Church.
“The Haitian community was very frank in expressing what they would hope the Biden administration would do to assist Haiti,” Archbishop Thomas Wenski said. “Not to do so in a paternalistic way, but to do so in a way that respects the dignity of the Haitians and allows them to forge for themselves a way forward out of this situation.”
“These people are suffering,” U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., said. “This is something that we have to get a hold of, and we have to get the leadership in Congress involved in this fight.”
The secretary’s final stop will be the memorial set up for the 98 victims of the devastating Champlain Towers collapse in Surfside.
He will also meet with the first responders who risked their lives to rescue and recover the victims.
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