Haitian police announced on Wednesday night the deaths of four alleged “mercenaries” and the arrest of two others, accused of murdering President Jovenel Moïse in the early hours of Tuesday to Wednesday. “Four mercenaries were killed, [e outros] two posts under our control. Three police officers who had been taken hostage were rescued,” Haitian police director general Léon Charles said in a statement read on television. Charles also revealed that his men are running a capture operation in the capital, Port-au-Prince.
According to the police chief, his men were able to locate the alleged magnicides because they chased them after the attack, which took place in the private residence where the president was sleeping with his wife, who was injured but “is out of danger,” according to Haitian authorities.
Charles did not reveal any other information about the identity or motives of the perpetrators of the murder, reports the AFP agency. According to the judge investigating the case, quoted by the local press, President Moïse, 53, was shot 12 times, and his office and bedroom were ransacked. Martine Moïse, the president’s wife, was also injured and, according to Efe, is being treated at a hospital in Miami.
Hours before the police operation, Prime Minister Claude Joseph had promised Haitians that the president’s killers “will pay in court for what they have done.” According to Haiti’s ambassador to the United States, Bocchit Edmond, the command was made up of mercenaries “well-trained professionals, assassins” who pretended to be employees of the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and spoke Spanish to each other during the attack.
Moïse’s death plunges the country into a stage of uncertainty and fuels the idea of creating a “Somalia in the Americas”, as some analysts have already described. In addition to the humanitarian crisis caused by a year of pandemics and hurricanes, there is the violence of urban gangs, which have raised the level of terror due to the assaults and kidnappings that plague the country. At the same time, political chaos seems to set in as the only form of government in the poorest nation in the Americas (and one of the poorest in the world).
The assassination surprised the political and diplomatic classes in the country, as it takes place just over two months away from the presidential and legislative elections scheduled for September 26th. It had already been established that Moise could not run for a new term, and this was therefore the path accepted by the international community out of the protracted political crisis. The opposition accused Moise of clinging to power and ruling by decree since he dissolved the Assembly. In an interview given to this newspaper, the president promised that he would leave the position in 2022, arguing that he actually only took office in 2017, later than expected.
Moise came to the presidency after a controversial election that had to be overturned. In the replay of the election, however, he clearly won, with no need for a second round. Last February, Moise denounced a failed coup d’état and an assassination attempt against him, and even a Supreme Court judge proclaimed himself legitimate president. “The coup d’état is not a one-off event, but a sequence of actions. Until now, governments were puppets of economic groups, but today this does not happen, and our decisions are very bad for those who feel powerful and untouchable. A small group of oligarchs is behind the coup and wants to take over the country”, denounced Moïse in that interview to EL PAÍS.
Jovenel Moïse was elected with the promise of bringing running water and electricity throughout the country. With the arrival of Joe Biden at the White House, the State Department joined the OAS (Organization of American States) and the so-called group of friendly countries of Haiti (which includes Canada, the United States, France, Spain and Brazil) to support the option for Moise to complete his term in 2022, although they demanded the restoration of the different powers of the State.
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