Haiti: president killed amid paramilitary strife

Cherizier

An apparent squad of mercenaries, arriving in nine brand-new Nissan Patrol vehicles, staged a night raid on the home of Haiti’s President Jovenel Mo√Įse in the upscale Port-au-Prince suburb of¬†of P√®lerin in the wee hours of July 7,¬†and shot him dead. His wife, Martine, was also gravely wounded. The seemingly professional hit job followed weeks of rapidly rising violence in Haiti. On¬†June¬†29, three gunmen on motorcycles killed at least 15 people in the Delmas¬†32¬†area of¬†Port-au-Prince. Shortly later, gunmen¬†believed to be from the same group carried out the targeted assassinations of¬†prominent women’s rights activist Marie Antoinette “Netty”¬†Duclaire and Radio T√©l√© Vision 2000 journalist Diego Charles, who were together at¬†Charles’ home¬†in the Christ-Roi neighborhood.

The next day, Haitian National Police (PNH) chief L√©on Charles and interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph stated that the killing spree was the work of Fant√īme 509, a shadowy paramilitary organization believed to be made up of current and former police officers, which over the past months has carried out jailbreaks, burned shops and vehicles, and exchanged fire with PNH units.

However, the National Human Rights Defense Network (RNDDH) issued a¬†press release¬†stating¬†that “according to certain residents of Delmas 32‚Ķthe individuals implicated in…these attacks were part of the Base Krache Dife,” or Spit Fire Gang. This outfit is affiliated with¬†the Revolutionary Forces of the G-9 Family & Allies (FRG-9), a network¬†of neighborhood vigilante militias led by Jimmy “Barbecue”¬†Cherizier. RNDDH director Pierre¬†Esp√©rance called the PNH declaration¬†blaming Fant√īme 509 “hasty and irresponsible.”

Ironically, the same day PNH chief Charles made his accusation, Cherizier gave¬†a press conference in which he called for peace¬†and “calm among everyone implicated in the armed confrontations”¬†in Port-au-Prince’s poor neighborhoods.¬†In early June, a year-long truce between the city’s gangs was broken when those in the neighborhoods of Grand Ravine and Village de Dieu¬†attacked that of Ti Bois enclave, a FRG-9 stronghold. That conflict touched off neighborhood battles across the capital.

A scheduled June 27 referendum on constitutional reform, aimed at resolving¬†Haiti’s political crisis, was indefinitely postponed in response to the outbreak of violence, and the COVID-19 surge currently wracking the country. The proposed reform would have centralized more power in the hands of the president.

The G-9 Family &¬†Allies,¬†founded a year ago, added the words “Revolutionary Forces”¬†to their name and said that they would use their weapons to “deliver the country [from its travails] once and for all,”¬†in a dramatic televised ceremony on June¬†23¬†in the Port-au-Prince shantytown of La Saline. (Haiti Liberte, Haiti Liberte, WLRN, Miami)

Photo: Haiti Liberte

  1. Haiti interim government calls for US troops

    Haiti’s interim government said that it asked the US to deploy troops to protect key infrastructure as it tries to stabilize the country and prepare the way for elections in the aftermath of the assassination of President Jovenel Mo√Įse.

    “We definitely need assistance and we‚Äôve asked our international partners for help,”¬†Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph told the Associated Press in an interview, declining to provide further details. ‚ÄúWe believe our partners can assist the national police in resolving the situation.”

    Haitian National Police Chief L√©on Charles said 17 suspects have been detained in the brazen killing of Mo√Įse.¬†Two are Haitian Americans and the remainer seem to be Colombian nationals.

    Bogot√° authorities said that the Colombians implicated in the assassination were recruited by four companies and traveled to the Caribbean nation in two groups via the Dominican Republic.

    The wife of a former Colombian soldier arrested in the assassination says her husband was recruited by a security firm to travel to the Dominican Republic last month. The woman told Colombia’s W Radio that her husband, Francisco Uribe, was hired for $2,700 a month by a company named CTU to travel to the Dominican Republic, where he was told he would be providing protection to some powerful families.

    Uribe has been under investigation for his alleged role in extrajudicial killings carried out by Colombia’s army more than a decade ago. Colombian court records show that he and another soldier were accused of killing a civilian in 2008 who they later tried to present as a guerilla killed in combat.

    A judge investigating the assassination of Mo√Įse says the two Haitian-Americans arrested in the case were acting as translators for a larger group of attackers that originally planned to arrest, not kill the leader, Haiti’s Le Nouvelliste newspaper reported. Judge Cl√©ment No√ęl didn’t elaborate on what grounds the group sought to arrest Moise. No√ęl said one of the suspects, James Solages, told him he “found this job on the internet.” (AP,¬†AP)¬†

  2. Interim power contested in Haiti

    Haiti’s interim prime minister, Claude Joseph, says he has taken command of the police and the army, declaring a “state of siege.” But constitutional experts questioned his right to impose it, and his claim to power was quickly challenged by a rival.

    Two days before his death, Mo√Įse had appointed a new prime minister, Ariel Henry, a neurosurgeon who was supposed to take up the role this week and told a local newspaper that he was the rightful prime minister instead. The dueling claims have created a volatile political crisis that has diplomats worried about a broad societal collapse. (NYT)

  3. Suspect named as mastermind of Mo√Įse assassination

    Haitian authorities say that Christian Emmanuel Sanon, a Haitian American who lives in Florida, is lead suspect in the assassination of President Jovenel Moise. In 2011, Sanon appeared to promote himself as a leader for Haiti.¬†Police Chief Leon Charles said Sanon had arrived back in Haiti in June, and is now¬†in police custody.¬†In a search of Sanon’s home, officers found weapons, bullets, and a hat with an emblem from the US¬†Drug Enforcement Administration.¬†Video shot at the scene of the crime appeared to show someone purporting to be a DEA agent. ¬†(PBS)

  4. Haiti gang boss calls on followers avenge Mo√Įse death

    Haiti’s powerful gangs are taking advantage of the power vacuum. Notorious leader Jimmy Cherizier, AKA Barbecue, urged gangs to avenge the assassination of Mo√Įse.¬†“It was a national and international conspiracy against the Haitian people,” he said in a video address, dressed in khaki military fatigues and sitting in front of a Haitian flag. He accused the police and opposition politicians¬†of colluding with the “stinking bourgeoisie” to “sacrifice”¬†Mo√Įse. (PBS, Reuters)

  5. Suspect in Mo√Įse assassination was DEA informant

    One of the suspects arrested in connection to the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise was a former confidential source for the US Drug Enforcement Administration, the agency has confirmed.

    The DEA did not name which suspect was the informant, but noted it was one of the two arrested last week, adding that the suspects “were not acting on behalf of DEA.”

    “Following the assassination of President Mo√Įse, the suspect reached out to his contacts at the DEA,”¬†the agency said in a statement. “A DEA official assigned to Haiti urged the suspect to surrender to local authorities and, along with a US¬†State Department official, provided information to the Haitian government that assisted in the surrender and arrest of the suspect and one other individual.” (Washington Examiner)

  6. Colombia police: Haitian ex- official suspected in Mo√Įse hit

    Former Haitian justice ministry official Joseph Felix Badio may have ordered the assassination of President Jovenel Moise, a Colombian police chief said, citing a preliminary investigation into the murder. 

    The group of assassins included 26 Colombians and two Haitian Americans, according to Haitian authorities. Eighteen of the Colombians have been captured, while five are on the run and three were killed. (Reuters)

  7. US charges Colombia national in Haiti president assassination

    The US Department of Justice issued a statement Jan. 4 outlining its charges against Colombian national Mario Antonio Palacios, including “conspiracy to commit murder or kidnapping outside the United States”¬†in connection with the July assassination of former Haitian President Jovenel Moise. He was also charged with “providing material support resulting in death.”

    Palacios was arrested based on a criminal complaint filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida. The complaint alleges that Palacios was one among approximately 20 other Colombian citizens and Haiti-based Haitian-American citizens participating in a conspiracy to kill or kidnap Moise. A squad of gunmen, allegedly including Palacios, stormed the president’s residence in Port-au-Prince, on July 7, 2021. An apparent plot to kidnap the president resulted in his death.

    Palacios evaded arrest in Haiti and traveled to Jamaica, from where he was deported. US authorities extradited Palacios during a layover in Panama on his way back to Haiti. While Haiti has arrested several people in connection to the murder, it has not charged anyone. Palacios is the first to be officially charged for the offense. If found guilty, he faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

    Moise’s murder resulted in greater¬†political instability in the Caribbean nation. Ariel Henry assumed the positions of interim prime minister and president soon after the assassination, a move welcomed by the US government. On Jan. 1, during a celebration on the anniversary of Haiti’s independence, gunmen¬†attempted to assassinate Henry. The Haitian government has issued arrest warrants for those behind the attempt. (Jurist)