Jul 09, 2021
Officials from Haiti's U.S.-backed government on Friday reportedly requested the deployment of American troops to the Caribbean nation to protect key assets--and presumably the regime itself--amid the chaotic aftermath of Wednesday's assassination of President Jovenel Moise in Port-au-Prince.
"There's this folly... that these moments should be used as opportunities to exert influence internationally. I think that's short-sighted."
--Jean Saint-Vil, Haitian-Canadian activist
The New York Timesreports Haitian officials have asked for U.S. troops to intervene to protect the nation's port, airport, gasoline reserves, and other critical infrastructure from possible attack by foreign mercenaries. Matthias Pierre, Haiti's elections minister, said the request was made because U.S. President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken had promised to help his country in the wake of Moise's murder.
While Jalina Porter, a deputy State Department spokesperson, would not confirm the Haitian request for U.S. troops, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Friday that senior homeland security and FBI officials would travel to Haiti "as soon as possible" to determine how to best help there.
Details of Wednesday's assassination are still emerging.
According to the Times:
Haitian authorities have said the assassination involved "foreign" forces, and the police have identified more than two dozen people involved in the assassination of the president, including 26 Colombians and two Americans of Haitian descent. Colombia's president asked several of the country's top intelligence officials and an officer from Interpol's central office in Colombia to travel to Haiti to assist with the investigation, Colombia's defense department said on Friday.
The Guardianreports that "Colombia's police director, Gen. Jorge Luis Vargas Valencia, told reporters four companies had been involved in the 'recruitment' of the murder suspects but did not identify them because their names were still being verified."
Haiti is no stranger to unwelcome U.S. military interventions, having suffered several of them, including a 19-year military occupation in which American troops killed thousands of people, instituted forced labor and Jim Crow segregation, and committed widespread sex crimes against women and children.
Although Haiti's government has apparently asked for an armed U.S. intervention this time, observers noted that the Moise administration is highly unpopular and increasingly authoritarian.
\u201cI wrote this yesterday morning. According to some breaking news, it looks like the fears are already materializing. Haitian authorities have reportedly requested U.S. troops. https://t.co/YWVP4YMNAh\u201d— C.J. Atkins (@C.J. Atkins) 1625865363
People's World managing editor C.J. Atkins notes that Moise's assassination "has left Haitians at home and in the diaspora conflicted and uneasy about what could come next."
"Few have much sympathy for Moise, but the uncertainty of what will happen now is generating widespread fear," he says.
Almost from the time it took office, [Moise's] administration was beset by protests. Legislative elections due in late 2019 never happened, and in January 2020 Moise completely dismissed parliament--announcing he would rule by decree. In all but name, he made himself the dictator of Haiti. When his own term was scheduled to end in February this year, Moise declined to step down, using the pandemic as an excuse to postpone elections to some unknown future date. Meanwhile, he pushed constitutional amendments that would allow him to stay in office even longer, established a new political police force, and officially designated anyone who protested against the government a "terrorist."
Jean Saint-Vil, a Haitian-Canadian activist, told the Toronto Star that to many Haitians, Moise was already a "foreign-imposed puppet."
Saint-Vil added that he hopes the U.S. and Canada "don't do anything" in Haiti.
"I hope they get out," he said. "There's this folly... that these moments should be used as opportunities to exert influence internationally. I think that's short-sighted."
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