A bill calling for cancellation of Haiti’s $1.5 billion debt to world financial institutions has passed the U.S. House. The measure now goes before the U.S. Senate.
Passage comes as the U.S. and other countries of the world debate how to best assist Haiti’s recovery from January’s massive earthquake, which left more than 220,000 people dead and upwards of 1 million people homeless.
The bill, called Debt Relief for Earthquake Recovery in Haiti Act, H.R. 4573, was introduced by Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., shortly after the earthquake. It calls upon the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank to cancel a series of loans made to Haiti.
Waters, a longtime advocate for the impoverished Caribbean nation, said in a statement she was pleased by the House’s action. “Debt relief is essential for Haiti’s future,” she said.
Waters returned from Haiti just before the House vote and pledged to work on long-term housing needs for earthquake victims. With hundreds of thousands of people still living outside in large parts of the country near the capital of Port-au-Prince, the concern is to get adequate shelter to Haitians before the rainy season arrives in April.