Haitian first lady Martine Moïse says she’s considering running for president after her husband was assassinated

Former first lady of Haiti, Martine Moise, speaks during the funeral of her slain husband, former President Jovenel Moise, accompanied by her children in Cap-Haitien
Former first lady of Haiti, Martine Moise, speaks during the funeral of her assassinated husband.

  • Former Haitian first lady Martine Moïse said she’s considering running for president.
  • This came less than a month after her husband, Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, was assassinated at their home.
  • There are still many open questions about the killing.
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Former Haitian first lady Martine Moïse says she is now seriously considering running for president after her husband, Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, was assassinated at their home, leaving her wounded in the attack earlier this month.

“President Jovenel had a vision,” Moïse told The New York Times in a report published Friday, adding, “and we Haitians are not going to let that die.”

A band of armed gunmen stormed into the couple’s private residence in Haiti on July 7 and assassinated the president, critically wounding his wife.

“I would like people who did this to be caught, otherwise they will kill every single president who takes power,” the first lady told the Times in her first interview since her husband’s brutal murder.

“They did it once. They will do it again,” she said.

Haitian authorities have arrested over two dozen people in connection to the assassination – including two US citizens. They’ve pointed to a Florida-based pastor, Christian Emmanuel Sanon, as a key conspirator in the killing. But there are many open questions about the assassination, and few answers.

Moïse’s assassination by a hit squad of foreign mercenaries in early July pushed an already struggling country into further chaos. Haiti was facing ongoing political turmoil, on top of rampant gang violence and poverty, when he was killed. Shortly before the assassination, the United Nations Security Council in a statement expressed “deep concern regarding deteriorating political, security, and humanitarian conditions in Haiti.”

He came to power in 2017 after a prolonged and rocky election cycle. Prior to his killing, there was a contentious consistutional dispute over the length of his presidential term.

Moïse’s opponents claimed that he stayed in power past his term limit, but he refused to step down. This prompted protests against his rule. Compounding the matter was the fact Moïse had been ruling by decree since January 2020 after dissolving parliament and failing to hold legislative elections.

Back in February, Haitian officials arrested nearly two dozen people in what was described as an attempted coup. At the time, Moïse said, “The goal of these people was to make an attempt on my life.”

Haiti continues to be gripped by political uncertainty and unrest.

A new prime minister, Ariel Henry, was sworn-in last Tuesday after a brief power struggle between him and Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph.

At Moïse’s funeral last week, protestors clashed with police and gunfire prompted President Joe Biden’s ambassador to the UN to leave early.

The Biden administration has offerred assistance to Haiti as it investigates Moïse’s assassination, but rebuffed a request for the US to send in troops to help quell the unrest.

US ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield last week said Haiti took a “positive step” forming a new government under Henry, but underscored that a key task facing Haitian leaders “will be to create the conditions for free and fair legislative and presidential elections as soon as feasible.”

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Gunfire prompts Biden’s UN ambassador to abruptly leave Haitian president’s funeral

Soldiers of the Armed Forces of Haiti guard carry the casket of slain President Jovenel Moïse before his funeral on July 23, 2021, in Cap-Haitien, Haiti.
Soldiers of the Armed Forces of Haiti guard carry the casket of slain President Jovenel Moïse before his funeral on July 23, 2021, in Cap-Haitien, Haiti.

  • Biden’s UN ambassador abruptly left the funeral for Haiti’s president amid unrest surrounding the ceremony.
  • There was reportedly gunfire heard, prompting the US delegation to leave within 30 minutes.
  • The assassination of Jovenel Moïse has pushed Haiti into a deeper crisis after years of struggles.
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The US ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, abruptly departed a funeral for Haitian President Jovenel Moïse on Friday after gunfire was reportedly heard.

Thomas-Greenfield and the rest of the US delegation left the funeral after less than 30 minutes, per the New York Times.

“The presidential delegation is safe and accounted for in light of the reported shootings outside of the funeral,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Friday.

“We are deeply concerned about unrest in Haiti,” Psaki said.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield
US ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield.

Protestors clashed with police outside of the ceremony on Friday, per Reuters, prompting riot gas to be deployed.

Moïse was assassinated by a hit squad of foreign mercenaries in early July, pushing an already embattled, struggling nation into an even deeper crisis. There are still many open questions surrounding his shocking killing, though Haitian authorities have arrested over two dozen people in connection to the assassination – including two US citizens.

The situation in Haiti has presented a new foreign policy challenge for the Biden administration, which has so far rebuffed a request from the Haitian government for US troops to be sent in to help quell the unrest. The administration did, however, bolster security at the US embassy after Moïse’s killing.

“We’re only sending American Marines to our embassy,” President Joe Biden said earlier this month. “The idea of sending American forces to Haiti is not on the agenda.”

A new prime minister, Ariel Henry, was sworn-in on Tuesday. Henry had been tapped to be the new prime minister only days before Moïse was killed. In the initial aftermath of the killing, Henry and then-Prime Minister Claude Joseph both claimed to be the legitimate prime minister. Joseph ultimately agreed to step down, and the US has applauded Haiti over the transition.

“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,” Thomas-Greenfield said in a statement on Friday. “The formation of a new government is a positive step, and it is a necessary first step as part of a broad and inclusive dialogue that responds to the needs of the Haitian people and begins the work of restoring Haiti’s democratic institutions.”

Thomas-Greenfield went on to emphasize that one key task before the new government “will be to create the conditions for free and fair legislative and presidential elections as soon as feasible.”

National security advisor Jake Sullivan in a statement on Friday urged Haiti’s leaders to “be clear that their supporters must refrain from violence.”

“The United States will continue to provide requested assistance, including equipment and training, to the Haitian National Police and the Government of Haiti amid ongoing security challenges,” Sullivan added, going on to say that the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security are assisting Haitian authorities in the investigation into Moïse’s killing and that the US will continue to collaborate with international partners to bring those responsible to justice.

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An assassination in Haiti shows how Colombia’s war machine has gone global

Palmira, Colombia
A Colombian soldier guards explosives confiscated by during a raid in Palmira, Colombia.

  • Haiti says 21 Colombian military veterans were involved in the assassination of President Jovenel Moise earlier this month.
  • The former troops were working as private contractors, and their involvement reflects Colombia’s prominence in the mercenary industry.
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BOGOTA, Colombia – Carlos Martinez joined the Colombian military at the age of 17, a minor who had to obtain his parents’ written permission to enlist.

“I didn’t have many options. There aren’t a lot of opportunities in this country for someone like me who grew up poor,” he said, “but war will always be profitable.”

Martinez spent almost 10 years on active duty in the army, eventually joining an elite special forces unit that fought armed groups and drug traffickers in the Andean countryside.

Colombia, which currently boasts some 250,000 active-duty armed forces personnel, produced millions of soldiers like Martínez during its five-decade conflict with guerilla groups, as well as its ongoing campaign on the front lines of the so-called War on Drugs – both efforts heavily subsidized by the United States.

“We are trained to kill,” Martinez told WPR. “There is no other way to describe it.”

The problem for Colombia, though, is where do these trained killers go when they leave the military? Lacking the skills necessary to readapt to civilian life, many become private security contractors, a euphemism for mercenaries that became widely used during the US war in Iraq.

And now, the government of Haiti says 21 Colombian military veterans working as private contractors were involved in the assassination of President Jovenel Moise in a nighttime assault earlier this month that also left his wife seriously wounded.

17 arrested in haiti assassination sitting in a line
Suspects in the assassination of Haitian president Jovenel Moise in Port-au-Price, July 8, 2021.

Colombian mercenaries have been spotted in nearly every conflict-stricken corner of the world, working legally as contractors in Iraq, Yemen and Afghanistan, or training cartels in Mexico. They are in high demand because of their reputation as well-trained and battle-tested fighters, with considerable combat experience in guerrilla warfare and other complex security environments.

In addition to its large and capable military, Colombia has a long history with more informal paramilitary groups from across the political spectrum. Rebel groups like the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – better known as the FARC – and the National Liberation Army, or ELN, battled not only against the Colombian armed forces, but against private militia groups organized by government supporters as well.

All of these entities have been guilty of grave human rights violations, but that has not stopped some of them from marketing their battlefield experience. Some paramilitary veterans drawn from groups that supported the Colombian government during the civil war were even hired to help defend Honduran landowners in the aftermath of the country’s 2009 coup.

US military involvement in Colombia has only enabled the growth of its private security contractors. Under a joint operation known as Plan Colombia, which began in 2000, the American and Colombian governments funded and trained both the Colombian military and paramilitary groups to fight drug traffickers and rebel groups like the FARC.

From 2000 until 2017, the US provided more than $10 billion in aid to Colombia, more than 70% of which went directly to the military and police. To avoid getting its own troops directly involved in the fighting, the US hired private contractors such as DynCorp, which earned hundreds of millions of dollars from Colombian contracts under Plan Colombia, to bridge the gap.

“The US military pioneered this trend [of using private contractors] in Colombia even before the Iraq and Afghanistan wars made the issue well-known globally,” said Adam Isacson, director of the Defense Oversight Program at the Washington Office on Latin America, an NGO that specializes in human rights issues in the region. “As part of the drug wars in Colombia, they began hiring outsiders and private companies to fulfill military roles.”

US troops Colombia explosive ordnance disposal
US Navy explosive-ordnance-disposal technicians and Colombian troops discuss EOD disposal techniques in Coveñas Colombia, August 21, 2018.

The private security industry took a big reputational hit in 2007, when armed guards working for Blackwater, founded by Erik Prince, massacred 17 Iraqi civilians and injured 20 more in Baghdad. But Prince continued to expand his empire, reaching an agreement to build a private standing army in partnership with Saudi Arabia in 2011.

The corporate mercenary industry had gone global, and some of its most attractive recruits were Colombian veterans and ex-paramilitary members.

“The selling point was not only that Colombian soldiers were ‘battle tested,'” said Sergio Guzman, director of Colombia Risk Analysis, a research and consultancy firm in Bogota. “They had worked with US special forces. They had been trained by US advisers.”

As if to underscore his point, the Pentagon announced Thursday that at least some of the 21 former Colombian soldiers arrested in connection with Moise’s assassination in Haiti had been trained by US advisers during their time in the Colombian military.

Another factor adding to the appeal of Colombian veterans to the private security industry, Guzman added, was that “they were cheaper than their North American counterparts.”

And that attraction was mutual. Colombians with battlefield experience found that as foreign security contractors, they were able to earn 10 times what they could at home, and former fighters flocked to the industry.

The economic draw of private contractors created a “brain drain” for the Colombian military, with Washington footing the sizeable bill.

“The US was effectively paying three times to train these contractors,” said Guzman. “They paid to train someone, who would then leave to work for a US company in the private sector, also paid for by the US, and the absence of the soldier meant [the Colombian military] had to immediately train someone else.”

Armed police officers stand in front of a mural of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse
Armed police in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

The turnover became so bad that the US insisted the Colombian military modify its contract, so that soldiers had to fulfill a minimum period of service before leaving for the private sector.

Not all soldiers dream of becoming mercenaries, however. “I would never work as a contractor,” said Martinez. “To me that’s just more paramilitarism, which is something that has torn my country apart. But many of my colleagues couldn’t retire fast enough to take military jobs abroad in the private sector.”

According to one Colombian veteran, who worked for years as a security contractor in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen, there is a culture surrounding paramilitary fighters in Colombia – known locally as paracos – that enables the growth of the private security industry.

Paraco culture, sadly, has become a national culture,” he told WPR. The veteran asked that his name be withheld to avoid potential issues with his current employer.

“We all grew up in it. After more than half a century of conflict, it has become normalized,” he continued. “And unfortunately, some of those who are part of that culture have less scruples than others when it comes to deciding which jobs to take.”

The phenomenon is likely to continue. With Washington’s backing, the current Colombian government led by President Ivan Duque has ramped up the military’s anti-drug trafficking efforts.

Duque has also slow-rolled the implementation of the government’s landmark 2016 peace agreement with the FARC, which was signed by his predecessor, and the promise of peace remains a mirage for large parts of the country.

Colombia soldier border Venezuela
A Colombian soldier guards the border with Venezuela in Cucuta, Colombia, February 9, 2018.

In the FARC’s absence, other armed factions, including offshoots of some of the same paramilitary groups that received US funding in the past, simply moved into the vacuum.

“There will always be an economic impetus for more Colombian fighters,” said the Colombian veteran who currently works as a contractor. “We have become very good at what we do.”

And due to an extreme lack of transparency in the industry, as well as varying legal frameworks in the countries in which they operate, there will always be a gray area where unethical private entities hire these soldiers of fortune.

They include the shadowy firm that calls itself the Counter Terrorist Unit Federal Academy. Run by a Venezuelan exile from a small warehouse in Miami, it hired the Colombians awaiting trial in Haiti for allegedly killing the president.

“The armed forces in Colombia are made up of people who didn’t start with advantages,” said Martinez, who is now a reservist. He said his current salary from the government is about twice the minimum wage, which is roughly $264 a month.

“Some of us feel we have no choice [but to work as mercenaries], but we do,” he added. “There are other options.”

However, the continued expansion of the private sector seems to confirm Martinez’s sentiment. War is profitable.

Joshua Collins is a freelance journalist based in Bogota, focused on migration and violence. Follow him on Twitter @InvisiblesMuros.

Parker Asmann is a journalist who writes about human rights, security policy and organized crime across Latin America and the Caribbean. Follow him on Twitter @PJAsmann.

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Haiti’s interim prime minister is stepping down and the man the assassinated president named as his successor is taking over

nterim Prime Minister Claude Joseph gives a press conference almost a week after the assassination of President Jovenel Moise, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti July 13, 2021.
interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph gives a press conference almost a week after the assassination of President Jovenel Moise, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti July 13, 2021.

Haiti’s interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph is stepping down from his role so his successor, who President Jovenel Moïse named one day before his assassination earlier this month, can take over, the nation’s minister for elections told The New York Times.

Minister of Elections Mathias Pierre told The Times that Joseph is stepping down “in favor of Ariel Henry.”

Henry was scheduled to replace Joseph, but was not sworn in before Moïse was killed.

Following Moïse’s death, however, both Joseph and Henry claimed the official title of Prime Minister and gave disputing interviews to the press.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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Widow of Haiti’s assassinated president returns to the country wearing her arm in a sling and a bulletproof vest

Haitian President Jovenel Moise
Haitian President Jovenel Moise is seen with his wife at the Te Deum during his inauguration ceremony at the National Palace in Port-au-Prince, on February 7, 2017.

  • Martine Moïse, the wife of Haiti’s assassinated president, has returned to the Caribbean nation.
  • She was pictured at Port-au-Prince airport on Saturday wearing an arm sling and a bulletproof vest.
  • Moïse had returned to the country to prepare for her husband’s funeral next week, an official said.
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Martine Moïse, the wife of Haiti’s assassinated president, returned to the Caribbean nation on Saturday after receiving medical treatment in Florida.

The widow was photographed arriving at Port-au-Prince airport with bodyguards, wearing an arm sling and a bulletproof vest. She was greeted by Haiti’s interim Prime Minister, Claude Joseph, and other top officials.

Moïse was with her husband, Jovenel Moïse, on July 7 when a group of assassins broke into their private residence and killed him. She survived the attack but had to be flown to a hospital in Miami, Florida, for treatment.

Read more: Joe Biden has a 2nd chance to take on the NRA with action on background checks for gun sales

In a tweet, a Haitian official said Moïse had returned to the country to prepare for her husband’s funeral.

Her arrival was unannounced and surprised many in the impoverished country of more than 11 million people, who are still reeling from the assassination.

Last week, Moïse spoke from her hospital bed for the first time, saying in a voice message posted to Twitter that the attack happened so quickly her husband was unable to “say a single word.”

“In the blink of an eye, the mercenaries entered my house and riddled my husband with bullets,” Moïse said, according to the BBC.

Earlier this week, she tweeted: “The pain will never pass.”

It is still unclear who exactly was behind the attack. Haitian police previously pointed to what it said was a group of assassins that includes 26 Colombians and two Haitian Americans.

Eighteen of those Colombians were detained, three were killed by the police, and five were still on the run, police said, according to Reuters.

This week, police took Jovenel Moïse’s chief of security into custody – a decision that “came from above,” CNN reported.

Jovenel Moïse’s funeral is expected to happen next week.

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Colombians accused in Haiti assassination were once trained by the US military, Pentagon says

Armed police officers stand in front of a mural of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse
Armed police in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

  • A “small number” of Colombians detained in the assassination of Haiti’s president received US military training, the Pentagon told The Washington Post.
  • They received the training while they were active members of the Colombian Military Forces, the Pentagon said.
  • It’s unclear when the training took place or how many of the suspects took part in it.
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A “small number” of Colombians detained in the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse had previously received US military training, the Pentagon said on Thursday.

“A review of our training databases indicates that a small number of the Colombian individuals detained as part of this investigation had participated in past U.S. military training and education programs, while serving as active members of the Colombian Military Forces,” Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Ken Hoffman told The Washington Post.

It’s unclear how many Colombians had the training as well as when the training to place, though Colombia is a US military partner and its military members have received training and education for decades, The Post reported.

Hoffman told The Post that the Pentagon is reviewing its training databases.

The Pentagon did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Haitian police have said that 26 Colombians and two Haitian Americans are among the suspects in Moïse’s assassination.

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The man suspected of masterminding the Haiti assassination told police he didn’t know anything about the attack, report says, as his brother claims he was framed

Christian Sanon against an orange background.
A still from a YouTube video showing Christian Sanon.

  • Haitian authorities have called Christian Sanon the mastermind of President Moïse’s assassination.
  • A source close to the investigation told CNN that Sanon has claimed innocence.
  • Sanon’s friends and family previously said they believed he was duped or framed.
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A Florida-based doctor accused of being the mastermind of the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse has told the police that he knew nothing about the attack, CNN reported, citing an anonymous source close to the investigation.

Christian Emmanuel Sanon, an evangelical pastor and doctor licensed to practice in Haiti, was arrested over the weekend in connection to Moïse’s killing.

“He doesn’t know. He doesn’t know. This is what he said since the day authorities interviewed him,” the CNN source said.

Haiti’s police chief, Léon Charles, said Sunday that Sanon was the mastermind behind Moïse’s killing, saying he flew to Haiti in June with a plan to steal the presidency.

Haiti President Jovenel Moise
Haitian President Jovenel Moise was assassinated in his home on July 7.

But the source who spoke to CNN said that Sanon maintains his innocence.

Sanon was arrested at a complex with a sign outside reading “International Medical Village,” but inside police found boxes of ammunition and holsters for rifles and pistols, the CNN source said.

Sanon told the police he didn’t know anything about the items seized from the building where he was staying, and that it was neither his home nor his property, CNN reported.

Sanon’s statements continue to raise questions about the quickness to which Haitian authorities labeled him as a leader of the plot. Charles said there were two other masterminds in the plot, but did not name them.

The New York Times reported that Sanon filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2013, suggesting that it’s unclear if he even had the money to pay for the hit on Moïse.

Friends and family of Sanon recently told the Associated Press and DailyMail.com that he was a peaceful man and would not have been involved in an operation to kill anyone, though they did say that he did want political change in the country. Sanon’s brother, Joseph, told DailyMail.com that he thinks his brother was being framed.

While Sanon is in custody in Haiti, he has not been formally charged with a crime yet.

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Judges’ clerks assisting in the Haiti assassination investigation have reportedly received ‘serious death threats’

President of the Republic of Haiti H.E. Jovenel Moise speaks onstage during the 2018 Concordia Annual Summit - Day 2 at Grand Hyatt New York on September 25, 2018 in New York City.
President of the Republic of Haiti H.E. Jovenel Moise speaks onstage during the 2018 Concordia Annual Summit – Day 2 at Grand Hyatt New York on September 25, 2018 in New York City.

  • Judge’s clerks assisting in the investigation into the murder of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse have gotten death threats.
  • The National Association of Haitian Clerks said Monday that two of its members received the threats, Le Nouvelliste reported.
  • Moïse was assassinated by a group of armed assailants who stormed into his home at around 1 a.m. on July 7.
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Judge’s clerks who have been assisting in the investigation into the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse have recieved “serious death threats,” a local report said.

The National Association of Haitian Clerks said Monday that two of its members, Marcelin Valentin and Waky Philostène, clerks of the Pétion-Ville peace court, have gotten the threats, according to French-language newspaper Le Nouvelliste.

In a note Monday, the president of the association called on Haiti’s Justice and Public Security Minister Rockefeller Vincent to “pass the necessary instructions in order to guarantee the security of these aforementioned clerks, so that they can carry out their task in peace,” the news outlet reported.

Moïse was assassinated by a group of armed assailants who stormed into his home at around 1 a.m. Wednesday.

Haitian first lady Martine Moïse was also critically injured in the attack.

Authorities in Haiti have said 26 Colombians and two Haitian Americans have been linked to the president’s killing.

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Ex-solider colleague of accused Haiti assassins: ‘There has to have been a conspiracy’

Haiti Jovenel Moise and wife Martine Moise
Jovenel Moïse and his wife Martine Moïse in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on November 28, 2016, after he won the country’s 2016 presidential election.

  • A former solider who was a colleague of the Colombian mercenaries suspected of assassinating the Haitian President says he doesn’t believe the men he knew were the killers.
  • He told Reuters that he and the other Colombian men were hired as bodyguards.
  • He said there “has to have been a conspiracy.”
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A former solider who was a colleague of the Colombian mercenaries suspected of assassinating Haitian President Jovenel Moise says he doesn’t believe that the men he knows were the killers.

Haitian authorities have said 26 Colombians and two Haitian Americans were behind Moise’s killing, but Matias Gutierrez, a retired special forces sniper who now works in security, told Reuters that he and the other Colombian men were hired as bodyguards.

“It wasn’t our commandos. There has to have been a conspiracy,” Gutierrez told Reuters. “Their extraction was total chaos. Why? Because they weren’t going on an assault, they went in support of a request by the security forces of the president.”

Gutierrez said he was not with the group last week because he tested positive for COVID-19.

Moise was killed in his home in the early morning of July 7. A motive for the president’s killing remains unclear.

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3 men suspected of assassinating Haiti’s president were killed in a bloody shootout, holed up in a concrete building, report says

A Haitian policeman in mask and helmet holding a firearm as he searches for suspects in the killing of Jovenel Moïse.
Police search for suspects who remain at large in the murder of Haitian President Jovenel Moise in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Friday, July 9, 2021.

  • Suspects in the killing of Haiti’s president were pinned down in a shootout, CNN reported.
  • The network retraced the aftermath, where 25 men were pinned down in a concrete building.
  • Some died, while some escaped to hide in the conveniently empty Taiwanese embassy, CNN said.
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The suspects in the killing of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse got into an protracted and bloody siege in the aftermath of the assassination, according to a CNN report.

Much is still unclear about the July 7 attack, which left the president dead, riddled with bullets, and Haitian security forces scrambling to catch the perpetrators.

Citing a source with knowledge of the operation, CNN reported on the multi-day chase between security forces and at least 25 suspects.

Among them were two Haitian-American suspects, taken alive, and two hostages who were members of the presidential guard, CNN reported.

In the early hours, after Moïse had been shot in his home outside Port-au-Prince, police set up a blockade on a narrow route and intercepted a convoy of five cars, the source said.

Trapped, the suspected assailants fled, abandoning guns and water supplies in their vehicles, per CNN.

The group headed up a steep hill, some scattering but most taking shelter along with the hostages in a two-story concrete building, which CNN visited.

“We could hear them talking and shouting in Spanish,” the source told the network. “They were talking, and they knew exactly what they were facing.” Fifteen of the suspects eventually captured were Colombian.

In the afternoon heat, the standoff lasted until 4 p.m. local time, when Haitian forces threw tear gas into the building, prompting a negotiation, CNN reported.

A close-up of a uniformed Haitian police officer holding a firearm, prior to planned protests at the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse.
Haitian police stand guard as protests were planned five days after the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, July 12 2021.

Two Haitian-Americans were the first to surrender, saying they were interpreters, CNN reported.

The network did not name James Solages and Joseph Vincent, two Haitian-American suspects who have made this claim. The hostages also left the building, CNN reported.

A shootout began, with Haitian security forces advancing and the heavily-armed suspects throwing a grenade out towards them – which didn’t explode, per CNN.

Three suspects were killed in the exchange of fire, which went on for two hours, CNN’s source said. But when the security forces reached the building, most of their assailants had fled, having quietly escaped uphill during the shooting, CNN reported.

Two bodies, one shrouded and the other just out of view, in the back of a van. Haitian police say they are suspects in the killing of Jovenel Moïse.
A police vehicle carrying the bodies of two people killed in a shootout with police in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Thursday, July 8, 2021. According to Police Chief Leon Charles, the two dead are suspects in Moïse’s killing.

The group ended up at the Taiwanese embassy, which was left empty. CNN noted that Haitian forces were suspicious that the men knew how to reach such a perfect hideaway nearby,

Diplomatic properties have special rules and are not easily accessible by the police, buying the men some time.

A spokeswoman for the embassy said staff were kept home after hearing of the previous day’s assassination. She confirmed that the grounds were breached by armed men, and said that Taiwan gave Haitian security forces permission to enter as soon as they were asked.

Eleven suspects were eventually captured there, according to CNN’s source, with others swept up from the surrounding area.

Exactly what the assailants hoped to do is still unclear. A Haitian-American, Christian Emmanuel Sanon, is suspected of masterminding the attack, which he didn’t join in person.

Solages and Vincent, the other two Haitian-Americans under suspicion who claim to be translators, believed that the plan was to arrest, not kill Moïse, a judge said.

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