Moïse’s Murder Evokes Mixed Feelings as Haiti Struggles to Heal

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At least two Haitian Americans were among six men who have been arrested in the assassination of Haiti’s president early Wednesday — a mission officials say took at least three months of meticulous planning.

Haiti’s minister of elections, Mathias Pierre, identified James Solages as one of the two Haitian Americans. He did not provide the name of the second Haitian American.

According to a judicial official, Solages told investigators he had become involved after “finding the job on the internet.” Solages reportedly claimed he had believed the group’s mission was to arrest the president of Haiti. Not to murder him. They had been on the island for three months before the ambush.

The Haitian government believes the attack was carried out with the assistance of Haitian nationals.

Jovenel Moïse, 53, was shot and killed in his private residence in Pétion-Ville. The First Lady Martine Moïse was also shot but survived the attack.

The Guardian reports the hit squad also consisted of about two dozen Colombians who had assembled a stockpile of weapons, money, mobile phones and other equipment, including rental cars.

Haiti has been in turmoil for months. In February, Moïse refused to step down from power and ruled by decree. No national elections were held — a regular occurrence under the Moïse regime.

In a move which further angered his critics, Moïse then tried to introduce a new constitution that would have given his office greater powers and secure the late leader even more terms in office. The ongoing pandemic put a spanner in the works.

Despite Moïse insisting that the country has thrived under his leadership, protests erupted across Haiti earlier this year, calling for his ousting. Citizens accused his administration of corruption and of intentionally turning a blind eye to the rising gang violence and killings.

Moïse was constantly linked to a former police officer Jimmy Cherizier, otherwise known as “Barbecue.”

Cherizier says he was given the name because of his mother’s love of barbecuing — terrified locals say it’s because of his reputation for setting fire to entire villages and burning his victims alive.

Cherizier leads Base Delmas 6 in Port-au-Prince’s poverty-stricken Lower Delmas neighborhood. Police and witnesses also accuse him of helping to facilitate the slaughter of up to 59 men, women and children in the nearby community of La Saline last year.

It’s been months, but people in La Saline now sleep on the streets… too afraid to return home.

An internal investigative report by the Haitian police Bureau of Criminal Affairs, obtained by The Associated Press, Cherizier’s arrest and 68 others on charges including murder and rape. But gang members have infiltrated the police force.

Still, Moïse appeared to make no genuine efforts to bring Cherizier to justice.

As authorities continue to piece together the moments leading up to Monday’s attack, Moïse’s death has left Haitians with mixed feelings.

Dahoud André, a Haitian radio host from Brooklyn, told The New York Times that he was “overjoyed” by the news.

“There will be celebrations on the streets of New York,” he said.

“We believe it is a good thing for the Haitian people that Jovenel Moïse is dead,” he said. “He was a criminal, who never had any legitimacy and under his leadership, there have been massacres, and corruption, and the arming and financing of street gangs. The only people mourning will be those who were helping him to steal.”

In a statement released by the White House, President Joe Biden said: “We are shocked and saddened to hear of the horrific assassination … and the attack on First Lady Martine Moïse of Haiti. We condemn this heinous act, and I am sending my sincere wishes for First Lady Moïse’s recovery.”

The assassination of any global leader is a travesty. But Haiti’s roots are planted firmly in the kernel of revolution. And although some are shocked and hurt over the president’s murder, others think Moïse’s killing is simply a case of history repeating itself–with Haiti ousting the oppressor.

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