Tag Archives: Haitians

As Haitians woke up to learn their President had been killed, an unidentified man called into a radio station and unleashed a strange monologue live on air

He was the translator for a group tasked with providing security for Haitian President Jovenel Moise, he said — but during an encounter at his private residence, “something terrible happened.”
“There’s loss of life but we didn’t do it,” he said.
The killing of Moise has sparked a sprawling investigation across multiple countries, supported by both the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation and Colombian intelligence services. No public statements have been released by at least two dozen people who have been detained in relation to the case. However, new audio and video recordings from the day of the killing obtained by CNN may offer a glimpse into the mindset of those now implicated in the assassination.

Overheard in Route de Kenscoff

While the unidentified caller was on Radio Mega, a local reporter happened to overhear him in person.
A reporter and his cameraman for Radio Television Caraibes, one of Haiti’s biggest radio stations, were driving up the hilly Route de Kenscoff on a motorbike toward the President’s private residence, on a mission to see what they could find out about the assassination.
Footage they filmed shows an apparently unsecured roadblock of two trucks, which they easily bypassed — the beginning of an extraordinary five minutes in the company of people who would soon be the most wanted men in Haiti.
Just up the hill, two men in balaclavas rose out of a ditch holding long guns and shouted. Malhaiko Senechal, the reporter, was unfazed. “I’m used to seeing men with guns in my work, when I’m driving around the city,” he said. “I thought they were helping the police who were responding to the murder.”
After 15 years of digging up news in Port-au-Prince, Senechal’s instinct was to stop and find out more. He saw more men standing under the shade of bushes and flowers overhanging a nearby wall. They looked watchful and a little restless, but not obviously hostile or upset, he told CNN. Three held guns and apparent protective vests, and a fourth was sitting down, speaking rapidly into his cellphone in Haitian Creole.
According to Senechal, the speaker described himself as a translator and insisted on the phone that he and his group had attempted to serve an arrest warrant to the President.
Meanwhile, Radio Mega listeners were hearing this live from the unidentified caller:
“This group is from the President’s own hand; it is a group that he let into the country to provide security for him. It turns out that the same group has been given a warrant to arrest the President.”
The same caller described the purported warrant in detail, and added, “Something terrible happened, although we were not expecting that to happen. I was only translating for them, though. When we tried to enter the gate to serve the warrant, the President’s entourage opened fire. Consequently, these agents opened fire in return to protect their lives.”
Standing a few feet away, Senechal called his boss, who confirmed his own growing suspicion — he was likely standing in the midst of those involved in the attack at the President’s house.
“When I heard the interpreter who was doing the interview with Radio Mega, I immediately knew that I was in danger, in danger because these were men that came and assassinated the President. If they can assassinate my President and I am just a simple citizen — well I was scared for my life,” Senechal said.
The Haitian flag flies at half-mast at the Presidential Palace in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on July 10, three days after President Jovenel Moise was assassinated in his home.

An arrest plan

That anyone would claim they were both hired to protect the President and instructed to arrest him appears at best contradictory. Yet it bears close resemblance to explanations already given by Haitian and Colombian authorities in the week since the President’s killing.
At least 39 people have been implicated in the killing of President Moise, and 26 of the suspects are Colombian, many of them ex-military. Citing Haitian authorities, Colombian police said Thursday that some of the Colombians were hired and brought to Haiti on the understanding their job was to detain the leader and hand him over to United States law enforcement.
The initial plan was to “arrest the president and put him on display for the (US Drug Enforcement Agency),” Colombian police chief General Jorge Vargas said at a press conference in Bogota on Thursday. Haitian police have also said the suspects allegedly carried a document purporting to be an arrest warrant. CNN has no evidence of the document’s authenticity.
Several suspects did have US ties — some had been informants for the DEA and FBI, while others had participated in US military training and education programs while serving in the Colombian military. However, there is no indication of the DEA’s direct involvement in the operation that killed President Moise, according to Vargas, and the agency has said that none of the attackers were operating on its behalf.
A number of suspected killers were likely deceived by their compatriots, Colombian President Ivan Duque told a local radio station on Thursday. Preliminary investigation suggests the Colombians were working in two groups, he said: A smaller group who knew of a “criminal” objective and were aware the bigger operation was a cover-up, and a larger group that had been kept in the dark.
“An important group was taken there to work on a supposed private security mission, for protection. But there was a smaller group who apparently had detailed knowledge that the outcome of the mission was to be a criminal one,” Duque said, without offering further evidence.
Whether that outcome was meant to be a presidential assassination is not clear, he added.
A man is reflected on a cellphone at a memorial outside the Presidential Palace in memory of slain President Jovenel Moise, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Wednesday, July 14, 2021.
Two former Colombian military officers, Dubernay Capador and German Rivera, have been accused of leading the operation. The pair previously met with Christian Emmanuel Sanon, the Florida-based pastor whom Haitian authorities allege coordinated the military operation in hopes of seizing power for himself, according to Vargas, the Colombian police chief. Sanon has denied all knowledge of the operation and insisted on his innocence, according to a source close to the investigation who cannot be named because they are not authorized to discuss the affair.
A Colombian security guard for an oil company in Bogota, Matias Gutierrez, also said that Capador attempted to recruit him to travel to Haiti in early May, describing a job “as private security in Haiti. Security for the President of Haiti, who was believed to be under death threat.”
Three more of the known suspects are Haitian-Americans, of which two are believed to have been hired as translators for the group. Based on photos released after their arrest, Senechal believes that the man he spoke to — and who called into Radio Mega — was one of them.
Haitian Chief of National Police Leon Charles has declined to comment on whether any of the suspects have been formally charged or have legal representation, citing the ongoing investigation.
Capador and least two other Colombians were killed by Haitian authorities responding to the assassination.
Security forces conduct an investigation as a soldier stands guard at the entrance to the residence of Haitian President Jovenel Moise, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Wednesday, July 7, 2021.

Search turns up more questions

Arrests continue in Haiti amid the search for a local mastermind — or several — capable of bringing in, arming, and moving around dozens of foreign mercenaries. Several police officers and heads of security units have been put under “precautionary measures,” which are typically intended to limit movements, according to Haitian police. Four have been put in isolation, including the head of national palace security Dimitri Herard.
“I also believe this has been a much bigger plot and that the authorities will have to clarify many aspects. Who pushed for changing the outcome of the operation? Why all the people involved end up in the same place and not in two places? Who was in charge of protecting the President? These are all things we need to answer and we’re working with Haitian authorities so that they lead to the instigators of this assassination,” Duque, the Colombian President, said on Thursday.
But much of the investigation remains opaque, leaving plenty of fertile ground for conspiracy theory, speculation and rumor. Several key pieces of information remain undisclosed, including CCTV footage from inside the President’s residence, and the account of Haiti’s most prominent potential witness, First Lady Martine Moise, who was injured during last week’s attack. Her official Twitter account has released multiple statements reflecting on her husband’s death and thanking medical staff in Miami, where she is hospitalized, but has not commented on what happened.
Without the testimony of the suspects themselves, yet to be explained is why they apparently allowed Senechal and his cameraman to get so close and also to depart, asking only whether the pair had seen army or police troops at the bottom of the hill. The two journalists had not noticed any security forces on their way up the hill, Senechal says, though around 20 armed security officers could be seen coming from the nearby Place Saint Pierre as he left, about five minutes later.
Which raises one more question: Why Haitian authorities might have left a key roadblock unattended in front of the suspected assassins, even briefly. A spokeswoman for the Haitian police did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.

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U.S. Grants Temporary Protections to Thousands of Haitians

U.S. Grants Temporary Protections to Thousands of Haitians

The Biden administration on Saturday extended special protections to Haitians living temporarily in the United States after being displaced by a devastating 2010 earthquake, reversing efforts by the previous administration to force them to leave the country.

The decision, announced by the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Alejandro N. Mayorkas, makes good on President Biden’s campaign promise to restore a program that shields thousands of Haitian migrants from the threat of deportation under the restrictive policies put in place under President Donald J. Trump.

Mr. Mayorkas said the new 18-month designation, known as temporary protected status, would apply to Haitians already living in the United States as of Friday.

“Haiti is currently experiencing serious security concerns, social unrest, an increase in human rights abuses, crippling poverty, and lack of basic resources, which are exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic,” Mr. Mayorkas said in a statement on Saturday.

The protections, created in a 1990 law, allow foreigners who have had to flee their homes because of natural disasters and conflict to work and live in the United States. Haiti is one of 11 countries that are beneficiaries of the program, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The Obama administration granted the temporary protected status to Haitians living in the United States illegally after the 7.0-magnitude earthquake in January 2010.

Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the new designation could protect as many as 150,000 Haitians from having to return to the political and security crisis in their home country.

“The last thing our country should be doing is forcing an entire community in the U.S. to decide between packing up their lives and tearing their families apart by self-deporting, or becoming undocumented and forced into the shadows of our society,” Mr. Menendez said in a statement on Saturday.

As part of its hard-line efforts to curb legal and illegal immigration, the Trump administration sought to end protections for about 400,000 immigrants living in the United States, including Haitians. Officials at the time said that the emergency conditions that had compelled the immigrants to flee their countries — earthquakes, hurricanes, civil war — had occurred long ago and that most of the immigrants no longer needed the haven provided by the United States.

Lawsuits blocked the cancellations, but in September a federal appeals court sided with the Trump administration, putting hundreds of thousands of immigrants on notice that they would have to leave the country or face deportation. Many of the people affected had been living in the United States for years. The Trump administration agreed to keep the protections in place at least through early 2021, meaning a new administration could decide to continue the policy.

Immigration advocates have called on the Biden administration to restore the temporary designation for Haitians and other immigrants living in the country and welcomed the decision announced on Saturday.

“Better late than never,” the National T.P.S. Alliance, a grass-roots organization wrote on Twitter.

In March, the Biden administration issued special protections for as many as 320,000 Venezuelans living in the United States, citing the extraordinary humanitarian crisis in the country under the leadership of President Nicolás Maduro.

But some said more needed to be done to give many of those immigrants permission to live in the United States permanently.

“Haitians have been living in uncertainty for the past several months,” Erika Andiola, the chief advocacy officer for the nonprofit organization Raices, said in a statement. “In the future, that uncertainly could be solved by a permanent fix through legislation that puts T.P.S. holders on the path to citizenship,” she added, using the abbreviation for the program.

This month, the House passed a bill that would create a path to citizenship for an estimated four million undocumented immigrants living in the United States, including those granted temporary protected status for humanitarian reasons. The bill passed mostly along party lines, and getting it through the more evenly divided Senate is likely to be a challenge.

Author: Eileen Sullivan
This post originally appeared on NYT > U.S. News