Almost a month has passed since the death of former Haitian president Jovenel Moïse, who was tortured and murdered in the room of his own home in Port-au-Prince by a group of Colombian mercenaries, and the question of who ordered and financed the crime remains unanswered. answer. Despite the fact that there are around thirty detainees of various nationalities, the true motives for the assassination remain a mystery around which conspiracy theories multiply. For the Haitian political scientist Joseph Harold Pierre, the case is a “puzzle” of which, he believes, the truth will never be known if the international community is not fully involved in the investigation and if there is no willingness to share and make the result public.
Assassination in Haiti
“Haitian justice is not that it is weak, it is that it practically does not exist. You can have a person whose offense is to have stolen a rooster and can be imprisoned for up to four years before appearing before the judge, ”said Pierre, who is also an economist and international consultant, in an interview with EL PAÍS. “It would be incoherent to think that this justice has the minimum capacity to carry out such a complex investigation and with a political dimension.”
For this academic expert in democratization processes in Latin America, his country is experiencing a political anarchy and a social crisis due to insecurity, the pandemic and the economic crisis, a chaos to which the murder of the former president has been added. Moïse was killed by 12 bullets on July 7 at his residence, where he was spending the night with his wife, who was injured, and their two children. According to the investigation, the operation was perpetrated by a command of 24 Colombian mercenaries who did not encounter any type of resistance from the president’s security team. So far, the police have arrested several agents, including the ex-president’s security coordinator, Jean Laguel Civil, and the head of security for the National Palace, Dimitri Hérard, in addition to a score of Colombian mercenaries and several Haitians, some of them residents in the United States and who are accused of planning the attack.
“Haiti, more than a failed state, is practically a non-existent state,” says Pierre. “The raison d’être of a State is to give the minimum security to the citizens. In Haiti, the state cannot provide itself the minimum security because a president was assassinated in his own room, ”laments the political scientist. In addition to the security crisis – which has its most visible reflection in the criminal gangs that have sown fear with attacks, robberies, extortions and kidnappings – the Caribbean nation, the poorest in the region, is plunged into a deep economic depression, with an exchange rate crisis since 2014.
“The depreciation is more than 25% every year. Currently it is very difficult to buy up to $ 50 in the formal market. Imagine the entrepreneurs who need millions of dollars for their businesses ”, he adds. That, in his opinion, contributes to the impoverishment of the population and drives away foreign investment. Furthermore, he believes that such decline has also been seen during the pandemic. Despite the fact that Haiti has not registered particularly high contagion rates compared to other countries, he points out, “it has not had the minimum capacity to respond” to the health emergency.
No conditions for elections
Ariel Henry, the man who took over as prime minister after Moïse’s assassination, has promised to create “as soon as possible” the conditions for holding free, honest and transparent elections. The presidential, legislative and municipal elections are scheduled for September 26, but Pierre believes that a political campaign at this time could further escalate the conflict in the country, since electoral periods in Haiti are often accompanied by an escalation of the violence.
“It is clear to me that there cannot be elections in Haiti next September. That would be laying the foundations for a civil war, ”says the analyst. “Now there are no political, security, logistical, or constitutional conditions for these elections to take place. Thus, the only thing we are going to is a failure that can lead to a civil war. Haiti is the poorest country in America, but it could become the second Somalia in the world with a civil war ”, he adds.
He proposes what he calls a “socio-political solution” that would involve bringing together diverse actors – political parties, the private sector, civil society, universities, churches, members of the diaspora and the press – at a negotiating table to seek a minimum agreement. To reach it, he points out, four basic conditions are needed that at this time are not guaranteed: a consensus on the fundamental points between the Government and the opposition, some “minimum security conditions”, a constitutional legal condition – that the electoral administration be sworn in. before the Supreme Court – and provide adequate logistics for holding elections.
According to his theory, this process should be accompanied by international society, a critical point in a country where part of the population blames a good part of its ills on the foreign presence in the past. An example of this is the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), which was in the country between 2004 and 2017 to collaborate with local institutions in a context of political instability dominated by organized crime, and which also had to provide assistance after the devastating 2010 earthquake. But soldiers from that force were accused of numerous cases of sexual exploitation and abuse and of being responsible for a cholera outbreak in the country.
“The international community has not delivered the expected results in Haiti, it is true. But it has played a deterrent role against insecurity. The Haitian police do not have the capacity to solve the problem of insecurity. The international community has to intervene. It’s sad to say, but you have to intervene, ”he says. The political scientist believes that what his country needs in order to benefit from the international community are stronger political, economic and intellectual elites than there are now, which he considers to be practically non-existent. “I firmly believe that the development of Haiti is possible, but the first step is to understand the Haitian reality in itself and abroad from another angle,” he concludes.
Subscribe here to newsletter from EL PAÍS América and receive all the informative keys of the current situation of the region