Haiti Requests US Troops After President Is Assassinated, 2 US And 18 Colombian Mercenaries Captured After Attack

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Haiti Requests US Troops After President Is Assassinated, 2 US And 18 Colombian Mercenaries Captured After Attack

The Haitian president's alleged assassins captured as the ongoing gang war escalates. 1 Million are at risk of Famine as COVID Increases By 500%.

Haitian police confirm 28-member hit squad made up of US citizens and Colombians assassinated President Jovenel Moïse, several have been captured and others are still on the run, and at least three have been killed. 

 

 

Police General Director Leon Charles described the men killed as “mercenaries” and said that security forces were locked in a fierce gun battle with them. “We blocked them en route as they left the scene of the crime ... Since then, we have been battling with them... They will be killed or apprehended.” Bocchit Edmond, the Haitian ambassador to the United States, said the gunmen were well-trained “foreign mercenaries” and said they had masqueraded as DEA agents during the assassination.

 

The captured mercenaries

At least two of the captured men, James Solages, 35, and Joseph Vincent, 55, are believed to be duel Haitian US citizens. According to investigators, Solages said that he and Vincent had been told they were executing an order to arrest the president authorized by a judge. Solages also admitting to being the one who called up to the president’s guards during the attack telling them they were from the US Drug Enforcement Agency and ordering them to stand down. The suspects claim that when they discovered the president had been assassinated they handed themselves to authorities. According to Clément Noël, an investigating judge who interrogated the US suspects, said, “They said they turned themselves in because they did not feel like they had a choice... They did not have a mission to kill the president. When they realized that things had changed, they brought themselves to the police.”

Public records show Solages lived in Tamarac, Florida, and does not have any criminal record. His record shows he was president of FWA SA A JACMEL AVAN, INC., the nonprofit organization named after the port of Jacmel in Haiti. On his charity website, hosted on wordpress, he identifies himself as a former bodyguard for the Canadian Embassy in Port au Prince and alleged to be a certified diplomatic agent. He also describes himself as an advocate for children and an up and coming Flordia politician. The website jacmelfirst.org has gone dormant since his arrest and the content has been scrapped, a copy has been saved to archieve.org. A search on Solages' social media shows a very confused footprint and it is unclear how he earned a living. Less is known about Vincent Joseph, except that he lived in Miami. In response to reports that Haitian Americans were being held, the State Department stated it could not confirm this or comment.

At least eighteen of the captured men are from Colombia, according to Leon Charles, chief of Haiti's National Police. The majority of suspects involved in the assassination were retired officers and soldiers of Colombia’s armed forces, who had been recruited by four security companies to work on the island. The head of the Colombian national police, Jorge Luis Vargas, said that Colombian authorities were looking into four businesses suspected of recruiting suspects and that they were using the Colombian tax identification numbers of the businesses to gather more information. Gen. Jorge Luis Vargas Valencia, told reporters that Ivan Duque told the army and police to cooperate with Haiti during the investigation. Colombia has sent top Colombian intelligence officials to travel to Haiti to assist with the investigation, including the head of the national intelligence office, the head of the police intelligence office, and an officer from the Interpol central office in Colombia.

According to reports, one of the suspects, Francisco Eladio Uribe, was under investigation for homicide by the country's special peace court last year. Uribe was accused of being involved in the “false positives” case, in which hundreds of members of the military were accused of killing civilians and claiming that they were combat casualties in order to boost their careers and eliminate dissenters or activists. His wife identified the company that employed him only as “C.T.U.”

It was reported that some of the suspects had left Bogota as early as May, en route to Panama before traveling to the Dominican Republic and then Haiti. Others arrived in the Dominican Republican as early as June. Gen. Luis Fernando Navarro claims that the suspects had left the military between about 2002 and 2018, that they were engaged in "mercenary activities," and that their motives were purely economic. It is currently under investigation if they knew what their mission was or if they knew it was to assassinate the Haitian president.

The White House also announced that the US would send a delegation including senior FBI and homeland security officials to Haiti as soon as possible to assist in investigation efforts.

 

How were the suspects captured?

At least two of the suspects, identified as "white men", were captured on Thursday hiding in bushes in Port-au-Prince by an angry crowd. They were almost lynched until police showed up and arrested the men. The crowd chanted at police: "They killed the president! Give them to us. We're going to burn them!" The crowd later set fire to several abandoned cars riddled with bullet holes that they believed belonged to the suspects, accidentally destroying evidence. There were no license plates on the cars, and inside one of them was an empty box of bullets and some water.

 

How is the Haitian government reacting?

Police are urging people to remain calm and let the police do their work and warned that authorities needed evidence that the angry crowds were destroying in anger, including the burned cars. Officials have not addressed a motive for the President's assassination, saying only that the attack was carried out by "a highly trained and heavily armed group."

 

The Haitian judge, Carl Henry Destin, involved in the investigation stated that president Moïse had been shot a dozen times and his office and bedroom had been ransacked, according to the Haitian newspaper Le Nouvelliste. The judge also said investigators found 5.56 and 7.62 mm cartridges between the gatehouse and inside the house. President Moïse's daughter, Jomarlie Jovenel, hid in her brother's bedroom during the attack, and two workers were tied up by the attackers.

 

How has the world reacted?

Countries all around the world have condemned the attack and called it heinous. The US and Mexico called for an emergency Security Council meeting to address the Haiti situation. The Security Council met Thursday to discuss the situation in Haiti, and U.N. special envoy Helen La Lime told reporters that Haiti made a request for additional security assistance. A UN-styled military intervention may be considered, however, the ongoing gang war that's displaced 14,700 people make the prospect challenge.

 

An ongoing gang war is escalating

Despite the presidential assassination and heavy government security presence, gunfire was heard intermittently across the city hours after the killing as a war between gangs continues uncontrolled. According to the National Commission for Disarmament, Dismantling and Reintegration (CNDDR), there are 76 armed gangs in Haiti today. Large parts of Port-Au-Prince have become hot warzones, endangering thousands of civilians trapped in the crossfire. The Ti Lapli and the Krisla gangs are currently at war over territory, weapons, fuel, and other resources, meanwhile, another group of gangs, called the G9 who are linked to the former President Moïse, are expanding their influence among the chaos. The government of the assassinated President Jovenel Moïse has faced credible accusations of funding numerous gangs, as well as theft of public funds and involvement in organized crime. The gangs have also engaged in numerous assassinations of business leaders, civil society, and activists. 

The National Police who served as the strong arm of President Jovenel Moïse has also had reports that members of the police form part of these gangs. In a declaration, the former leader of the National Police, Normil Rameau, accused police of the Police Officers Union of Haiti, of being “terrorists” and accused them of being tied to organized crime. Harvard Law School and a Haitian crime observatory reported that state officials and police assisted in gang attacks that massacred hundreds of people in government opposition areas.

According to investigators the government of the now dead Haitian President Jovenel Moïse allegedly took part in state-sponsored massacres by providing gangs with money, weapons, police uniforms, and government vehicles. These were used in three prolonged attacks on neighborhoods in Port-au-Prince between 2018 and 2020.

Activists on the ground say that Jimmy Chérizier is the “boss of the G9 gang, and has police officers working for him who guarantee and maintain his power.” Under Normil, was unable to arrest a former cop turned gang leader, Jimmy “Barbecue” Cherizier. Cherizier, has evaded arrest for over two years and has gone on to unite warring gangs into the G-9 Families and Allies, he's been implicated in several massacres, including the killing of dozens of women and children in the La Saline neighborhood in 2018. Witnesses reported that former government official, Joseph Pierre Richard Duplan, had been present during the attack in La Saline, communicating with Chérizier and other gang leaders, according to the report. At the time, Duplan was the West department's "delegate," one of ten government representatives appointed by the now dead President Moïse across the country. 

According to the UN, the basic wellbeing of millions of Haitians is in peril, as gangs captured oil distribution centers in the weeks leading to the President's assassination. This has led to fuel shortages that have hindered the transportation of necessary goods. Some gas stations have been dry for over a month. Furthermore, the gangs blocked off the highway connecting Port-au-Prince with the southern region of the country, stopping the delivery of fruits and vegetables to Port-au-Prince. 

As a result of gang looting, sequestering, and blockade, Haiti has lost vital food supplies. Some 46 percent of the Haitian population, or 4.4 million people, requires "urgent action" to combat the growing food crisis, and more than one million people are now on the brink of famine, according to the National Food Security Coalition. Hospitals have reported a drastic increase in gunshot victims, spreading doctors thin as the COVID-19 epidemic continues to escalate. The gang war has forced thousands to shelter together in crowded makeshift camps inside public buildings ran by the government and UN. 

On June 23, Jimmy “Barbeque” Cherizier, the leader of the G9 gang collective, suspected of having ties to President Moïse’s government, declared his gang a “revolutionary force”. Less than three weeks later, than President was dead.

 

What happens with Haiti now?

Currently, Haiti still has no president or working parliament and at least two people are professing to be the prime minister. According to Haiti's constitution, President Moïse should be replaced by the president of Haiti's Supreme Court, but he died recently from COVID-19. Furthermore, Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph assumed leadership of Haiti with the backing of police and the military. However, Joseph was supposed to be replaced by Ariel Henry, a neurosurgeon who had been named prime minister by President Moise a day before his assassination. Prime Minister Henry calls it an exceptional and confusing situation and told reporters, "I am the prime minister in office." The Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph who decreed a two-week state of siege following Moise's killing asked the population to reopen businesses and go back to work, he also ordered the reopening of the international airport. It is currently unknown if Joseph plans to relinquish power anytime soon or if he can hold on to it if he plans to stay long.

Haiti's elections minister, Mathias Pierre, announced, Haiti’s government has requested that the United States send troops to protect key infrastructure. This request is especially precarious as an ongoing gang war has left the country in a state of collapse. Haitian officials said they had requested military support to protect port, airport and gasoline facilities and other key infrastructure. Many of these infrastructures have recently been seized by heavily armed gangs and it unknown if US troops are expected to recover them if sent into the country. The US state department confirmed the request has occurred but did not mention if it planned to fulfill it. The state department spokesperson said, “The Haitian government has requested security and investigative assistance, and we remain in regular contact with Haitian officials to discuss how the United States can assist." The White House spokesperson, Jen Paski also said, “Making sure we are providing resources, in terms of woman and manpower, but also financial resources, is part of what our objective is as well”.

In a letter addressed to the Secretary of State, Tony Blinken, the Haitian ambassador to Washington, Bocchit Edmond, requested help from the FBI and justice department training programmes. He also requested that US sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Act be imposed on those who aided and abetted the assassination.

As the ongoing gang war escalates in Haiti it has become clear that the capture or removal of Jimmy Chérizier and related top bosses, including Moïse linked government officials, must be an international priority if stability is to return to the country.

 

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