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Trouble in Haiti Part 1: The Assassination of President Moise

Foreign Policy Brief # 125 | By: By Erin Mayer | August 17th , 2021

Header photo taken from: The New Yorker

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Policy Summary

A band of armed men assassinated President Jovenel Moïse of Haiti. The President’s wife was also wounded during a home invasion on July 7th. Police killed four of the attackers.Two others were arrested the same day. Though there have been arrests in regards to Moïse’s prosecution yet to take place..

A number of those rumored to have been involved in Moïse’s death were from Colombia. Approximately 20 Colombian mercenaries are thought to have been connected to the murder. Authorities in Colombia, Haiti and the United States continue to investigate. Additionally, a “former Haitian guerrilla; a convicted cocaine smuggler and DEA informer called ‘Whiskey’; a US-based evangelist with dreams of becoming Haiti’s president; and a Miami security firm which apparently took its name from the television series 24” are linked to Moïse’s murder. However the reasoning for the assassination still is not thoroughly understood.

The Haitian ambassador to the United States, Bocchit Edmond, said that the murder of  President Moïse “was carried out by foreign mercenaries and professional killers — well-orchestrated.” Edmond went on to explain that the men were impersonating officials from the local U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration office, in Port-au-Prince, at the time of the attack.

After the assassination Prime Minister Claude Joseph requested U.S. assistance in deploying armed services to help maintain order. President Biden denied the request and  made his intentions clear when he clarified that sending troops to assist the island nation’s government was “not on the agenda.” “We’re only sending American Marines to our embassy to make sure that they are secure and nothing is out of whack at all. But the idea of sending American forces into Haiti is not on the agenda at this moment,” Biden said.

Photo taken from: The Washington Post

Joseph then agreed to step down in order to ensure stability on the island nation. Power was transferred to Ariel Henry, a former neurosurgeon, who had been appointed Haiti’s prime minister just barely 24-hours prior to Mr. Moïse’s death. Henry had the support of the CORE Group, a network of concerned countries from Europe and the U.S.  Mr. Joseph agreed to  step into a position as foreign minister in Henry’s cabinet.

Haiti  had previously been experiencing reported revolts and mob violence due to the expanding authoritarian control exercised by Moïse. Over the weeks following Moïse’s death, masses of Haitian citizens have been forced to find sanctuary in churches and other safe havens. Others are often afraid to leave their homes at all but risk exposure to local attacks. An estimated 19,000 Haitians have fled areas that have become battle zones, worsening already deteriorating circumstances. This is especially true in neighborhoods surrounding the capital.

Policy Analysis

During a Visit to Haiti U.S. United Nations Ambassador  Thomas-Greenfield’s was able to meet the new Prime Minister Ariel Henry as well as Claude Joseph. Thomas-Greenfield said, “Our delegation is here to bring a message to the Haitian people: You deserve democracy, stability, security, and prosperity, and we stand with you in this time of crisis. So, we come here in solidarity with the Haitian people during this difficult time. 

And also, it’s important that we share our condolences with First Lady Martine Moïse and her family. But we also come to show our support for democracy and democratic process.” Thomas-Greenfield also urged Prime Minister Henry to ensure stability in order to conduct proper presidential elections “as soon as feasible.”

Jake Sullivan, U.S. National Security Advisor, expressed concern over the growing turmoil in the island nation. In a recent statement he said , “We strongly urge all parties to express themselves peacefully, and call on Haiti’s leaders to be clear that their supporters must refrain from violence.”

Photo taken from: The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Haiti, a country which is typically spoken about in regards to tragedy and disaster, is now a country in political turmoil and whose resources are dwindling. The future of the island rests in the hands of the local media, activists, scholars and academics. With any luck, the true sentiments and concerns of the Haitian citizens, who are exposed to violent crime daily, will be expressed through these channels. Moïse’s murder was shocking. However Haitians  now have an opportunity to rewrite their own story; they have a chance to push for their own objectives. If Haitian citizens speak loudly enough, they can change the future of their island nation.

Engagement Resources​

Click or tap on image to visit resource website.

HELP’s mission is to create, through merit and needs based scholarships, a community of young professionals and leaders who will promote a more just society in Haiti.

Hope for Haiti is focused on providing support and partnership for the Haitian people, specifically children, every single day. 

The Lambi Fund tout a proven record of success in assisting Haitian communities to not just rebuild, but become sustainable.

Sow A Seed places a focus on orphans in the Caribbean. The organization provides training for teachers, assisting students with the tools and encouragement they need to continue their education, fighting malnutrition with the help of different food organizations, and building a sense of cultural identity and creative expression with arts programs.

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