Questions have been raised about Haiti’s official account of the assassination of its president, Jovenel Moïse, who was gunned down last Wednesday in his mansion in Port-au-Prince.
Haitian police and politicians who entered the political vacuum created by the murder of Moïse claimed he was shot at around 1 a.m. by members of a predominantly Colombian squad that stormed the residence of the president on the hillside. “Foreigners have come to our country to kill the president,” said police chief Léon Charles after the shooting.
However, opposition politicians and media reports in Haiti and Colombia are now casting doubt on this version, as uncertainty grips the Caribbean country and the streets of the capital remain eerily quiet in the middle. fears that Haiti may fall into a new phase of political and social upheaval.
Steven Benoit, a prominent opposition politician and former senator, told local Magik9 radio on Friday: “The president was assassinated by his own guards, not the Colombians.
An article in Colombian magazine Semana, citing an anonymous source, suggested that the former Colombian soldiers traveled to Haiti after being hired to protect Moses, who allegedly received death threats, rather than kill him.
Further adding to the mystery, Colombian newspaper El Tiempo claimed that a source told it that security footage of the presidential compound showed Colombian agents arriving there between 2:30 p.m. and 2:40 a.m. Wednesday. “It means they arrived an hour and a half after the crime against the president,” the source said.
Earlier on Friday, Colombian authorities named 13 of the suspected Colombian mercenaries Haitian security officials captured and claim they were involved. Among them, Manuel Antonio Grosso Guarín, former member of an elite unit of the Colombian army called the group of special forces for the fight against urban terrorism, specializing in the management of hostage-taking and the protection of personalities.
Grosso, 41, reportedly arrived in Haiti with 10 former soldiers on June 6 after passing through the resort town of Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti. A second group of former soldiers arrived in Haiti about a month earlier via Panama.
The Haitian police chief told reporters that 15 Colombians were arrested following the murder of the president as well as two American citizens of Haitian descent, who were named James Solages, 35, and Joseph Vincent, 55. Three Colombians were killed while eight suspects were still at large, Charles said, adding: “We urge citizens not to take justice into their own hands. “
The presence of so many foreigners among the Haitian leader’s alleged killers shocked many, especially in Haiti itself. But Colombian guns have been popping up in war zones around the world, including Yemen, Iraq, Israel and Afghanistan, for years. Many have already been trained by American soldiers and, after spending years fighting insurgent groups or drug traffickers in Colombia, found work with private military contractors based in the United States.
“After so many years of war, Colombia has only a surplus of people trained in deadly tactics,” said Adam Isacson, director of defense oversight at the Washington Office on Latin America, a think tank. “Many of them have been hired by private companies, often in the Middle East, where they make a lot more money than in the Colombian armed forces. Others ended up being mercenaries for drug traffickers and landowners, as paramilitaries. And now, for whoever planned this operation, in Haiti.
On Friday, a headline in El Tiempo read: “Colombian Mercenaries: Trained, Cheap and Available. “
The wife of one of the arrested Colombians told local radio that her husband, Francisco Eladio Uribe, had been hired by an agency to travel to the Dominican Republic to ensure the safety of well-to-do families, but had failed. not received specific details on his mission. “He was a very good soldier, husband and partner,” she said, admitting, however, that her husband had been investigated for his role in the enforced disappearance and murder of civilians, who then presented as guerrillas to inflate combat killings and receive bounties.
Conflicting claims about the president’s assassination and controversial calls by Haitian election minister Mathias Pierre for US military intervention to protect key infrastructure have left many of Haiti’s 11 million citizens suspicious and nervous.
Paul Raymond, a 41-year-old teacher from Port-au-Prince, said he was convinced the president had been betrayed by members of his own security team, who were allegedly summoned to explain why they did not have him protected. “It was planned by people who know him and people who know the house,” Raymond said, expressing his amazement that none of Moses’ bodyguards would have been injured in the assault. “Not even his dogs! Raymond added.
Alfredo Antoine, a former member of Congress, said he suspected the murder was the work of powerful Haitian oligarchs. “They killed him because they didn’t want their interests.” [harmed], ”He claimed.
Jake Johnston, a Haiti scholar at the Center for Economic and Policy Research think tank, said sending US troops was not the solution to the political upheaval. “To think that foreign intervention is a solution to this problem is mind-boggling,” Johnson said, pointing to a centuries-old history of foreign interference in Haiti, including an almost two-decade American occupation that followed his assassination. President Jean in 1915. Vilbrun Guillaume Sam.
“The latest United Nations intervention caused cholera and killed thousands of people,” said Kinsley Jean, a young leader and political activist. “That’s not what we need right now. “