Haiti's US Backed President Jovenel Moïse Assassinated
Haiti's President Jovenel Moïse has been assassinated on early Wednesday in an attack on his home, according to the country's interim prime minister Claude Joseph.
The assassination occurred on July 7 01:00 local time (05:00 GMT) in the president's home in Port-au-Prince, it was carried out by unidentified armed men. First Lady Martine Moïse was also injured in the attack. Claude Joseph the country's Prime Minister alleges that "all measures had been taken to guarantee the continuity of the state". He has now taken control of the country and has urged the public to remain calm. Prime Minister Claude Joseph said highly trained assassin, some speaking a mix Spanish or English with a US accent, assassinated the president at his home. The assassins yelled, “DEA operation! Everybody stand down! DEA operation! Everybody back up, stand down!” Residents reported hearing high-powered rounds being fired and seeing black-clad men running through the neighborhoods, they also reported exploding grenade and drones buzzing overhead. Prime Minister Claude Joseph said police and the armed forces were controlling security. A resident who lives near the presidential residence compared the sound of the shooting to an earthquake. Bocchit Edmond, the Haitian ambassador to the U.S., described the attackers as “well trained professional commandos” and “foreign mercenaries.” Their motives are currently unknown.
President Jovenel Moïse was brazenly holding on to power for another year past his official term, a move that drew mass protests earlier in 2021. Moïse’s term ended on February 7, according to the constitution, which he openly ignored. Moïse claimed he should remain in power for another year, bolstered by the controversial OAS and support from the Biden administration's United States Department of State, support extended from previous administrations. Moïse has only served four years of a five year term, but was elected five years ago. Following a dispute over the validity of the election, he spent a year as President-Elect. Since January 2020, Moïse has governed by decree after failing to hold parliamentary elections. The United States Department of State spokesman Ned Price relayed the United States’ support of Moïse’s "interpretation" of the constitution in a press conference.
In a joint statement in late December, by the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Rep. Gregory Meeks and fellow Democratic Reps. Albio Sires and Andy Levin, “Moïse is pursuing an increasingly authoritarian course of action, issuing a series of recent decrees that include creating an extra-constitutional domestic ‘intelligence’ force, ... His latest actions are reminiscent of past anti-democratic abuses the Haitian people have endured, including the run-up to the Duvalier dictatorship,” referring to the brutal François Duvalier, who ruled Haiti from 1957 to 1971.
During the protests against Moïse's power grab, multiple protestors were killed by the police and many more were injured or arrested, including a supreme court judge. President Moïse also arrested members of the political opposition, claiming an attempted coup. Many Haitians believe the incident was a kidnapping of prominent opposition figures in an effort for Moïse to retain power. Jovenel Moïse had been in power since February 2017, after his predecessor Michel Martelly stepped down. Moïse saw significant U.S. backing and in general acted like a tyrant who was above the law. Under his rule police were known to attack dissenters, journalists, and even judges. US mercenaries were also spotted during the crackdown on protests but are alleged to have been limited to protecting Moïse.
Haiti's economy also failed to recover and international funds sent for recovery appear to evaporate without explanation. An earthquake in 2010 killed more than 200,000 people and caused extensive damage to infrastructure and the economy. A UN peacekeeping force was put in place in 2004 to help stabilize the country, and only withdrew in 2017 around the period Moïse took power. Haiti has also seen an increase in organized crime, violent gang crime, and kidnappings as well as worsening living standards in a nation where nearly 60% already live below the poverty line.
It is currently unknown who assassinated President Moïse and the list of suspects and motives could prove to be rather long. Furthermore the line of succession in the country is currently unavailable. The president of the country’s Supreme Court would normally be next in line, but recently died of COVID-19.
We'll update this post as more information becomes available.