Delays in creation of new Haitian government as streets overrun with violence


Important Takeaways:

  • Panic set in around downtown Port-au-Prince on Monday as wild shooting filled the streets of Haiti’s capital, with heavy gunfire near the national palace.
  • The latest violence to rock the Caribbean island nation comes as the outgoing prime minister signaled that a broad transitional council is nearly finalized and seen as key to ending the current social and political crisis and paving the way for new elections.
  • Reuters saw civilians rush to escape gunfire in the capital, where rival gangs control wide swathes of territory, three weeks after Prime Minister Ariel Henry announced plans to step down pending the creation of the council and the appointment of an interim leader.
  • In a government statement, Henry said the nine members of the council have been forwarded on from regional body CARICOM, but he did not release the names.
  • Henry noted that a council of ministers must still discuss outstanding legal questions later on Monday in order to finalize the transition.
  • The discussions threaten to further delay an already prolonged resolution to Haiti’s lack of a functioning government.

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Carnage on the streets of Port-au-Prince


Important Takeaways:

  • World stalls on a promised intervention for Haiti
  • A woman hustles her young child into a waiting car as she shields his eyes. They’re fleeing anarchy.
  • The reason lies in the street before their house: A burned corpse; the remains of a suspected gang member killed by their neighbors.
  • His knees are bent and torso pitched forward as if in supplication, metal wires wrapped around the charred flesh.
  • Now even the holdouts are leaving amid an unprecedented frenzy of terror in the Caribbean nation.
  • Human remains are lying in the streets, yet the multinational security mission long touted by Haiti’s neighbors as a game-changer for its gang problem is nowhere to be found.
  • “We are ready for (the) multinational support force,” Baptiste said. “We’re ready to work with them. But the plan to receive the mission is not laid out; we think the mission will fail like the others because there is no framework to work together.”

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Haitians call for law and order to be restored as gangs target the wealthy neighborhoods and power stations


Important Takeaways:

  • Former Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe says there’s a ‘total void of law and order’ on stricken island, as power station attacks leave much of capital in darkness
  • Haiti descended into darkness overnight as gangs attacked electrical stations, leading Former Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe to call for law and order to be restored on the island.
  • Nearly 1.5 million Haitians are on the brink of famine as armed gang leader Jimmy ‘Barbecue’ Cherizier attempts to seize power.
  • The nations power company announced on Monday that four substations in the capital and elsewhere, ‘were destroyed and rendered completely dysfunctional.
  • As a result, swaths of Port-au-Prince were without power, including the entrance to the U.S. embassy, the Cite Soleil slum, the Croix-des-Bouquets community and a hospital.
  • ‘Law and order needs to be restored in Haiti as there is a huge security void and breakdown,’ Lamothe said on Tucker Carlson Uncensored.
  • The former prime minister said Haiti had a strong military and police force until Jean-Bertrand Aristide became president and then he disbanded them out of a lack of trust, which has created the void in security the country is seeing now.
  • He claimed Haiti is the only country in the Western Hemisphere outside of Costa Rica that has no military and that has the biggest gang activity after El Salvador.
  • ‘That created a void. And that created a situation where we have to deal with that void is filled by gangs,’ Lamothe said.
  • Gangs attacked two upscale neighborhoods near the capital city of Port-au-Prince and killed at least two dozen people in the rampage on Monday.
  • Gunmen looted homes in the communities of Laboule and Thomassin before sunrise, forcing residents to flee as some called radio stations pleading for police.

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Colombian police say no ‘hypothesis’ in Haiti assassination probe

By Luis Jaime Acosta

BOGOTA (Reuters) – Colombian police said on Monday they could not share any hypothesis about the murder of Haitian President Jovenel Moise and that they respect the Haitian state’s autonomy, after 18 Colombians tied to the case were arrested and three others killed.

Moise was shot dead early on Wednesday at his Port-au-Prince home by what Haitian authorities describe as a unit of assassins formed of 26 Colombians and two Haitian Americans, plunging the troubled Caribbean nation deeper into turmoil.

On Sunday, Haitian police said they had detained one of the suspected masterminds, 63-year-old Christian Emmanuel Sanon, a Haitian man whom authorities accuse of hiring mercenaries to oust and replace Moise. They did not explain Sanon’s motives beyond saying they were political.

“We cannot construct any hypothesis,” General Jorge Luis Vargas, head of the Colombian national police, told journalists in Bogota. “We respect the judicial autonomy of the Haitian state and its authorities.”

Families of some of the Colombians, many ex-soldiers, have said their loved ones were hired as bodyguards, not as mercenaries, and that they are innocent of killing Moise.

The men were initially contracted to protect Sanon, Haiti’s National Police Chief Leon Charles said Sunday, but then they were given a warrant for Moise’s arrest.

Most of the men were detained after an overnight shoot-out on Wednesday in Petionville, a hillside suburb of Port-au-Prince, and three killed.

Nineteen tickets to Haiti were bought for the men via a Miami-based company called CTU, Vargas added.

CTU, run by Venezuelan émigré Antonio Enmanuel Intriago Valera, has not responded to requests for comment from Reuters made on Sunday.

A man named Dimitri Herard, who served as Moise’s head of security, transited through Colombia multiple times earlier this year, Vargas added, during trips to Ecuador and the Dominican Republic between January and May.

Colombian police are investigating Herard’s activities during his visits, Vargas said.

High-ranking Colombian intelligence officials have been in Haiti since late on Friday to assist with the investigation.

Haitians in parts of Port-au-Prince were planning protests this week against interim prime minister and acting head of state Claude Joseph, according to social media posts.

Joseph’s right to lead the country has been challenged by other senior politicians, threatening to exacerbate the turmoil engulfing the poorest country in the Americas.

(Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta; Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Alistair Bell)

Haitian president assassinated at home, sparking fears of widespread turmoil

By Andre Paultre

PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) -Haitian President Jovenel Moise was shot dead by unidentified attackers in his private residence overnight in a “barbaric act,” the government said on Wednesday, stirring fears of escalating turmoil in the impoverished Caribbean nation.

The assassination coincided with a wave of gang violence in Port-au-Prince as armed groups have battled with police and one another for control of the streets in recent months, turning many districts of the capital into no-go zones.

The 53-year-old president’s wife, Martine Moise, was also shot in the attack that took place around 1 a.m. local time (0500 GMT) and was receiving medical treatment, Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph said in a statement.

“A group of unidentified individuals, some of them speaking Spanish, attacked the private residence of the president of the republic and thus fatally wounded the head of state,” he said.

Joseph said the police and army had the security situation under control though gunfire could be heard throughout the crime-ridden capital of 1 million people after the attack.

With Haiti politically polarized and facing a growing humanitarian crisis and shortages of food, fears of widespread chaos are spreading. The Dominican Republic said it was closing the border it shares with Haiti on the island of Hispaniola.

The bloodshed in Haiti is driven by worsening poverty and political unrest.


The country of about 11 million people – the poorest nation in the western hemisphere – has struggled to achieve stability since the fall of the Duvalier dictatorship in 1986, and grappled with a series of coups and foreign interventions.

A U.N. peacekeeping mission – meant to restore order after a rebellion toppled then-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004 – ended in 2019 with the country still in turmoil. In recent years, Haiti has been buffeted by a series of natural disasters and still bears the scars of a major earthquake in 2010.

Moise, a banana exporter-turned-politician, faced fierce protests after taking office as president in 2017. This year, the opposition accused him of seeking to install a dictatorship by overstaying his mandate and becoming more authoritarian. He denied those accusations.

“All measures are being taken to guarantee the continuity of the state and to protect the nation,” Joseph said.

Moise had ruled by decree for more than a year after the country failed to hold legislative elections and wanted to push through a controversial constitutional reform.

The U.S. Embassy said in a statement it would be closed on Wednesday due to the “ongoing security situation”.

The United States is assessing the “tragic attack” and President Joe Biden will be briefed on the assassination, the White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in Washington.

“We stand ready and stand by them to provide any assistance that’s needed,” she said. “Of course our embassy and State Department will be in close touch but it’s a tragedy. We stand with them and it’s important that people of Haiti know that.”

The United States had on June 30 condemned what it described as a systematic violation of human rights, fundamental freedoms and attacks on the press in Haiti, urging the government to counter a proliferation of gangs and violence.

Dominican Republic President Luis Abinader held an emergency meeting early on Wednesday about the situation in Haiti but had yet to issue a statement.

(Reporting by Andre Paultre in Port-au-Prince with additional reporting by Ezequiel Abiu Lopez in Santo Domingo, Susan Heavey and Doina Chiacu in Washington Writing by Sarah MarshEditing by Daniel Flynn and Mark Heinrich)

‘Descent into hell’: Kidnapping explosion terrorizes Haiti

By Andre Paultre and Sarah Marsh

PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) – A wave of kidnappings is sweeping Haiti. But even in a country growing inured to horrific abductions, the case of five-year-old Olslina Janneus sparked outrage.

Olslina was snatched off the streets of the capital Port-au-Prince in late January as she was playing. The child’s corpse, bearing signs of strangulation, turned up a week later, according to her mother, Nadege Saint Hilaire, a peanut vendor who said she couldn’t pay the $4,000 ransom. Saint Hilaire’s cries filled the airwaves as she spoke to a few local radio stations seeking help raising funds to cover funeral costs.

Saint Hilaire is now in hiding after receiving death threats, she said, from the same gang that killed her daughter. “I wasn’t supposed to go to the radio to denounce what had happened,” she told Reuters.

Police in her impoverished and crime-ridden neighborhood, Martissant, told Reuters they were investigating the case.

Haiti’s epidemic of kidnappings is the latest crisis to befall this Caribbean island nation of around 11 million people, roiled by deepening political unrest and economic misery. Kidnappings last year tripled to 234 cases compared to 2019, according to official data compiled by the United Nations.

The real figures are likely much higher because many Haitians don’t report abductions, fearing retribution from criminal gangs, according to attorney Gedeon Jean, director of the nonprofit Center for Human Rights Analysis and Research in Port-au-Prince. He said the research center recorded 796 kidnappings last year.

Haiti’s national police force did not respond to a request for comment. President Jovenel Moise has said repeatedly that his government is doing all it can, and has put more resources into anti-kidnapping efforts. Still, he publicly acknowledged on April 14 that “kidnappings have become generalized” and that efforts to combat persistent insecurity have been “ineffective.”

Human rights activists and a new report from Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic allege that Moise’s government has allied itself with violent criminal gangs to maintain its grip on power and to suppress dissent. Opposition groups have called for Moise to resign and hand power to a transitional government that would delay presidential and legislative elections slated for September until the nation is stable enough to ensure a free and fair contest.

Haiti’s acting Prime Minister Claude Joseph denied those allegations and the report’s findings. He said anti-democratic forces are whipping up violence to destabilize Moise’s administration in an election year. “They are fomenting the gangs to stop there being elections,” Joseph told Reuters.

Criminals have targeted some poor people, like Saint Hilaire, for modest sums. Many more victims come from the ranks of the Haitian middle class – teachers, priests, civil servants, small business owners. Such targets aren’t rich enough to afford bodyguards but have enough assets or connections to scrape up a ransom.

In one of the most high-profile recent cases, five Catholic priests, two nuns and three laymen were kidnapped on April 11 in the commune of Croix-des-Bouquets, northeast of the capital. Four members of the group were subsequently released and six are still missing, according to an April 25 statement by the Society of Priests of St. Jacques, a French missionary society linked to four of the kidnapped priests. An official with that group declined to comment on whether a ransom was paid.

“For some time now, we have been witnessing the descent into hell of Haitian society,” the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Port-au-Prince said in a statement earlier this month.


Haiti last experienced a major surge in kidnappings and gang violence after a rebellion toppled then-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004, prompting the United Nations to send in a peacekeeping force.

The departure of that force in October 2019 was followed by a resurgence in gang crime, according to human-rights activists, who say kidnapping has proven lucrative at a time when Haiti’s economy is teetering.

Rights activists say politics also play a role. They allege Moise’s government has harnessed criminal groups to terrorize neighborhoods known as opposition strongholds and to quell public dissent amid street protests that have rocked the country the past three years.

The report released April 22 by the International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School alleges “high-level government involvement in the planning, execution and cover-up” of three gang-led attacks on poor neighborhoods between 2018 and 2020 that left at least 240 civilians dead. The report relied on investigations of the attacks by Haitian and international human rights experts. It alleges the government provided gangs with money, weapons and vehicles and shielded them from prosecution.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury in December sanctioned reputed Haitian gang leader Jimmy Cherizier and two former Moise administration officials – Fednel Monchery and Joseph Pierre Richard Duplan – for helping orchestrate one of the attacks. All three have denied wrongdoing.

Kidnapping is an outgrowth of impunity for criminal organizations, according to Rosy Auguste Ducena, program manager of the Port-au-Prince-based National Network for the Defense of Human Rights.

“We are talking about a regime that has allied itself with armed gangs,” Ducena said.

Justice Minister Rockefeller Vincent denied any government alliance with gangs. He told Reuters in December that the wave of kidnappings was the work of political enemies seeking to undermine Moise “by creating a sense of chaos.”

The rise in kidnappings has petrified many Haitians. The heads of seven private business associations this month issued a joint statement saying they had reached “a saturation point” with soaring crime. They endorsed a nationwide work stoppage that occurred on April 15 to protest Haiti’s security crisis.

“Kidnapping is killing the economy,” said Haitian economist Etzer Emile. He said the tourism and entertainment sectors have withered.

Moise’s administration says it is working hard to end the terror. Two years ago it revived a commission aimed at disarming gang members and reintegrating them into society. Over the past year, the government has increased the police budget and solicited advice from Colombia, which once battled its own kidnapping epidemic. In March, Haiti created an anti-kidnapping task force to attack the problem with tactics such as tracing laundered ransom money.

Still, four policemen died last month in a gun battle with alleged criminals in a slum where kidnapping victims are often held. The government declared a month-long state of emergency in gang-controlled neighborhoods. Yet abductions continue to mount.

Moise, who has opted not to seek re-election this September, has defied the opposition’s calls for him to step down early. On April 14 he issued a statement saying he aimed to form a government of national unity to better tackle the “pressing problem of insecurity.”


Many Haitians remain skeptical – and on edge.

One victim was a 29-year-old doctor. He was kidnapped in his own vehicle last November after leaving the Port-au-Prince hospital where he had just finished an overnight shift. He told Reuters his story on condition of anonymity.

At dawn, four armed assailants hustled him into the back seat, threw a hood over his head and held him at gunpoint as they drove, he said. His captors eventually tossed him into a room with three other abductees – a man and two women – who had been snatched earlier.

The physician said his kidnappers ordered him to phone his family to request $500,000 for his release. The first two people he tried said they couldn’t pay. The kidnappers slapped him and delivered a threat.

“They said that if I called a third person that didn’t give me a satisfying response, they would kill me,” he said.

The doctor’s girlfriend said she and three friends negotiated with the gang. She wouldn’t say how much they paid, fearful of becoming targets for other criminals.

The doctor said he reported his abduction to Haiti’s national anti-kidnapping police unit. That unit did not respond to requests for comment.

The physician does not know the fate of his fellow abductees. He said the kidnappers poured melted Styrofoam on their skin because their families had yet to pay up.

Saint Hilaire, the mother of the young girl who was kidnapped and murdered, said she continues to watch her back after speaking publicly about the abduction.

The kidnappers “told me to make sure I never ran into them, because they would kill me,” she said.

(Reporting by Andre Paultre in Port-au-Prince and Sarah Marsh in Havana; editing by Marla Dickerson)