Gov. DeSantis says Florida has competition in Haitian rescue mission
TALLAHASSEE, FLA. 5/5/23-Gov. Ron DeSantis during a news conference after the 2023 legislative session concluded, Friday at the Capitol in Tallahassee. COLIN HACKLEY PHOTO

Costs for the 90 people brought to Florida at taxpayer expense have not been released by the Governor's Office.

Gov. Ron DeSantis spoke to Florida’s ongoing mission to bring back Americans from Haiti amid its latest deterioration of civil society, and noted that taxpayers in his state aren’t the only ones involved in rescue efforts.

“So another flight has come in, we expect more to be happening. There were hundreds of people, we’ve got 90 back so far. And I think some of the other people — you know, they sign up with us. But if they can get a ride, I think other people have gotten out as well. So we’re going to continue to do that,” he said during remarks in Orlando.

Those 90 evacuees are just a fraction of the over 500 people who signed up on the state’s Division of Emergency Management assistance portal for Floridians and other Americans trapped in the Caribbean country, suggesting the state mission is supplementary to other efforts despite the hype around it.

The first flight from Haiti arrived in Sanford with 14 total travelers, including some children. DeSantis noted on Wednesday that people being picked up will be on the taxpayers’ dime, so that evacuees won’t be “stuck with the bill.”

Costs for this operation are undisclosed. These can add up, especially given a lack of oversight or need to cap expenses. The Israel evacuation flights last year cost Florida taxpayers $19 million, as the Tallahassee Democrat reported.

The Governor has acknowledged difficulty in accomplishing the state’s mission, and previously said he wanted help from Haiti’s neighbor and the federal government, which has its own logistics for bringing people back from unsafe places.

“Part of the thing that’s going to help us is to be able to launch some flights out of the Dominican Republic,” DeSantis said in his latest appearance on “Fox & Friends.”

“So we’re trying to work with the State Department. We’re trying to work with the Dominican Republic to say, ‘Hey, if we helicopter people over, can we then fly out of there?’ Because I think the airport situation in Haiti is just something that is not necessarily optimal and we want to make sure we can get as many people out as possible.”

There are differences between the federal and Florida models when it comes to rescue, including financial responsibility.

The State Department bills travelers and not taxpayers for the cost of the flight.

There has been a long-standing travel warning advising people shouldn’t go to Haiti “due to kidnapping, crime, civil unrest, and poor health care infrastructure,” so Florida’s flights are for people who already disregarded the advice of the federal government.

However, DeSantis has been agnostic about that diplomatic advice, saying earlier this month the flights were intended to rescue “Christian missionary groups.” Vacationers wouldn’t go to Haiti given more stable options, but Americans with the zeal to proselytize outside of U.S. territory often make the trip despite discouragement from the federal government.

Meanwhile, DeSantis supporters, such as Duval County’s evocatively named Doodle Cinotti, have been among those who came home in recent days.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


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  • Bethany Chance

    March 27, 2024 at 5:46 pm

    Also not mentioned here is whether the planes are coming from the same company funding Matt Gaetz, who reeived unconstitutionally allocated funds, paid via an illegal, no-bid contract, to kidnap Texas asylum seekers. These people were legally present in the country. Also not mentioned that much of Ronnie’s Israel boast was a lie.

  • ScienceBLVR

    March 28, 2024 at 10:21 am

    However, DeSantis has been agnostic about that diplomatic advice, saying earlier this month the flights were intended to rescue “Christian missionary groups.”
    Perhaps their Diety can fly the Jesus Fre@ks home on gossamer wings…
    My tax dollars ? Separation of church and state? If these were Muslim missionaries would we be flying them back?

Comments are closed.


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