Haitian security forces were involved in a series of shootings on Wednesday by assassins who killed President Jovenel Moise at his home overnight, plunging the already poorest and most violent nation into chaos.
Police killed four “mercenaries” and arrested two others, “Director General of Police Leon Charles said in a televised comment on Wednesday, adding that security forces would not rest until they received medical treatment.
“We stopped them on the way home from the crime scene,” he said. “Since then we have been fighting them.
“They will be killed or arrested.”
Moise, a 53-year-old businessman who took office in 2017, was shot dead by his wife, Martine Moise, who was critically injured when gunmen stormed the couple’s home in the mountains above Port-au-Prince around 1 p.m. . local time (0500 GMT).
Haiti’s ambassador to the United States, Bocchit Edmond, told Reuters in an interview that armed men were acting as agents of the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as they entered the residence. Moise looked under the cover of the night – a decision that would likely help them get in.
The brass massacre, which handed down sentences from Washington and neighboring Latin American countries, came at a time of political unrest, escalating gang violence and a growing humanitarian crisis in the country. The poorest America.
The government announced a two-week state of emergency to help track down the killers, whom Edmond described as a group of “foreign mercenaries” and well-trained assassins.
The troops spoke English and Spanish, said Acting Prime Minister Claude Joseph, who has taken over the country, where most people speak French or Haitian Creole.
“I want stability. Everything is under control,” Joseph said on television with Director General of Police Charles. “This brutal act will not be punished”.
The first woman was transported to Florida for treatment where she was in good condition, Joseph said.
Haiti, a country of about 11 million people, has struggled to find stability since the fall of the Duvalier dictatorship in 1986, and has been plagued by a series of coups and foreign intervention.
US President Joe Biden described the killings as “horrific” and called the situation in Haiti – which is 700 miles (1,125 km) off the coast of Florida – worrying.
“We are ready to help as we continue to work for Haiti safely and securely,” he said.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in a call to Joseph, expressed Washington’s commitment to working with the Haitian government to support “democratic rule, peace and security,” the spokesman said. State Department Ned Price in a statement.
Many Haitians wanted Moise to step down. Since taking office in 2017, he has faced calls for resignation and mass protests – first over allegations of corruption and his economic management, then over his growing power.
More recently, he has overseen the escalation of gang violence which activists say is politically motivated by business leaders who use armed groups for their own purposes.
In recent months, many suburbs in the capital Port-au-Prince have become unprofitable and one of Haiti’s most powerful gang leaders has warned that he is launching a coup against the country’s economic and political elites – despite activists The justice said he was more linked to Moise than to the opposition.
Moise himself had spoken out about the dark forces playing out behind the unrest: his political colleagues and corrupt oligarchs are unhappy with his attempts to clean up government contracts and reform Haiti politics. He did not provide any proof of this.
FEAR OF VALUES
On Wednesday, the streets of the crowded capital were deserted and the airport was closed despite gunshots.
The convoy, as well as an ambulance carrying Moise’s body to the lake, had to change lanes due to gunfire and roadblocks, local reports said.
If Hakiiti is politically divided and faces growing hunger, fears of a systematic collapse grow.
The Dominican Republic has closed the border with which it shares with Haiti on the island of Hispaniola, except for returning citizens, and strengthening security.
“This crime is an attack on the democratic order of Haiti and the region,” said Dominican President Luis Abinader.
The UN Security Council expressed shock and sympathy for Moise’s death ahead of a closed-door meeting on Thursday, requested by the United States and Mexico, to assess the situation.
The UN peacekeeping mission – intended to restore order after the uprising that toppled then-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004 – ended in 2019 while the country was still in a state of disarray. In recent years, Haiti has been plagued by natural disasters and is still reeling from the devastating earthquake of 2010.
Moise’s assassination comes during a power vacuum. The politician-turned-banana politician, who took office in 2017, had been in power for more than a year after the country failed to hold parliamentary elections. There are only 10 elected in the Haitian government, all senators.
Just this week, he appointed the prime minister to replace Joseph – who was only supposed to be interim prime minister – but the official has not yet been sworn in. The head of the Supreme Court died last month from COVID-19 in the middle of a number of infection concerns and has yet to be rehabilitated.
A shocking statement from the Official Gazette on Wednesday said the prime minister and his cabinet – that is, the Joseph government – would assume administrative power until a new president was elected, in line with Haiti’s constitution.
Elections were already scheduled for September, with a controversial referendum on a new constitution that Moise said would ultimately help bring political stability to the country.
Opposition leaders said this was part of his attempt to establish a dictatorship by extending his term and becoming more authoritarian. He denied the allegations.
The US embassy said it would be closed on Wednesday due to “the current security situation.”
The United States, Haiti’s largest donor and has long exaggerated its policies, condemned on June 30 what it called a systematic human rights violation, fundamental freedoms and attacks on journalists in the country. The Biden regime has urged the Haitian government to crack down on gangs and violence.
The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) on Wednesday expressed concern that the violence could undermine efforts to combat COVID-19 in Haiti – one of the few countries in the world that has not yet given a single coronavirus vaccine.