They shoot ambulances, kidnap nuns, extort the poor. Gangs are the terror of Haiti, but they are not news. It took the assassination of the President of the Republic to bring to the attention of the world the long wave of unpunished violence that is sweeping the most devastated country in the Americas as do the cyclones of the Caribbean that cyclically devastate it. With the difference that the violence does not pass, it does not degrade like cyclones that deflate at sea.
The assault on the president
Violence affects the lives of 11 million inhabitants who have not yet risen from the impact of the 2010 earthquake. It is this unnoticed agony that is the backdrop to a rare event such as the murder of a president in office, in a country where even the dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier known as Baby Doc was allowed to return from exile and die in his bed in 2014 of a heart attack. Destiny has reserved another end to Jovenel Moïse, Just turned 53: at one o’clock last night he was killed in his villa in Pelerin 5, among the houses of the wealthy people of Petionville in the hills of the capital Port-au-Prince (his wife Martine was taken to hospital in very serious condition ).
The strange case of the premier
The news was announced on the radio by Prime Minister Claude Joseph, who the president himself had fired the day before. The replacement, a 71-year-old neurosurgeon close to the opposition, didn’t have time to swear. And so it was the politically revived Joseph, appointed premier in April of this year, to declare a state of emergency and to impersonate the state left without its controversial leader, that “banana president“(Nickname resulting from his commercial activities) who had come to power after the disputed 2016 elections and who wanted to stay in power by changing the Constitution, with a long-awaited and always postponed referendum that would have perhaps allowed him to stand for a second term . An authoritarian leader who for a couple of years had governed by decree, thanks to the postponement of the legislative elections, and who recently told the envoys of the US Congress that he wanted to reintroduce a real army to Haiti (dissolved in 1994).
The Petrocaribe scandal
A bold man, already accused of corruption (without trial) together with a varied clique of politicians for the Petrocaribe scandal (money obtained from the purchase of Venezuelan oil at discounted prices that instead of helping the poor ended up in the pockets of the rich). A leader in the crosshairs, who at the beginning of 2021 had announced a thwarted coup (23 people arrested including the president of the Constitutional Court) and who a few days ago had publicly challenged the threats and requests to step aside.
Who killed him?
“A lot of people had an interest in getting rid of the president,” he says New York Times Didier Le Bret, former French ambassador. President Joe Biden says he is “very worried” about the situation in Haiti. A report discussed a few days ago at the UN Security Council speaks of “violence out of control”. But who killed Jovenal Moïse? The premier who remained in his post last night speaking on TV reaffirmed that in the commando that attacked the villa there were foreigners who spoke English and Spanish. The Miami Herald published a video in which a man with an American accent speaks into a megaphone before the attack (“This is a Goddess operation”) quoting the US Anti-Drug Agency. Eyewitnesses say they saw men dressed in black running around the president’s private residence.
Commander Barbecue’s Challenge
Investigations are announced. But there is no need to think of a commando of foreign mercenaries. Haiti without an army is full of “armed forces”: they are gangs that terrorize the territory, kidnap schoolchildren, shoot nurses, fight each other, join forces, have powerful contacts, even announce “the revolution” as a leader did at the end of June called Barbecue, aka Jimmy Cherizier, a former policeman who leads the self-styled G9, a federation of nine gangs.
If anyone can kill a president, no one is safe. There are already thousands of “urban displaced persons” such as Daniella Francois, 18, an orphan with a 4-year-old daughter, who fled in early June from a room without services in the Martissant neighborhood, because the gunmen had arrived on their street. They now live in a gym in the neighboring neighborhood, Carrefour. They are the hidden face of Haiti, where Commander Barbecue’s G9 is more powerful than a president.
July 7, 2021 (change July 7, 2021 | 22:58)
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