In the aftermath of President Jovenel Mose's killing, Haiti's interim administration claimed it asked the US to deploy soldiers to defend crucial infrastructure as it seeks to stabilize the country and prepare for elections.
In a phone conversation late Friday, Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph stated, "We definitely need assistance, and we've asked our international partners for help" (Saturday AEST). “We are confident that our partners will be able to assist the national police in resolving the situation.”
The United States has turned down the request, telling Reuters that there are "no plans to provide US military assistance at this time."
The unexpected appeal for US military assistance recalled the upheaval that followed Haiti's last presidential killing, in 1915, when an enraged mob pulled President Vilbrun Guillaume Sam out of the French Embassy and thrashed him to death.
As a result, President Woodrow Wilson dispatched the Marines to Haiti, justifying the almost two-decade-long American military occupation as a means of preventing anarchy.
However, the Biden administration has made no indication that it will deploy military support.
For the time being, it simply intends to send FBI agents to assist with the ongoing investigation into a crime that has thrown Haiti, already beset by poverty and gang violence, into a destabilizing power struggle and constitutional impasse.
In a direct challenge to the interim government's authority, a handful of lawmakers pledged loyalty and recognized Joseph Lambert, the chairman of Haiti's destroyed senate, as provisional president on Friday. They also recognized Ariel Henry as Prime Minister, whom Mose had chosen to succeed Joseph the day before he was assassinated, but who had not yet taken office or formed a government.
Others would try to exploit Mose's death for political benefit, Joseph expressed his displeasure.
“I'm not interested in a power struggle,” Joseph, who took over with the support of the police and military, stated. “In Haiti, there is only one way for people to become president. And it'll be done through elections.”
As further information about a murder that has taken on the air of a dark international conspiracy involving a Hollywood actor, a shootout with gunmen holed up in a foreign embassy, and a private security service operating out of a large warehouse in Miami emerged, Joseph spoke.
Two Haitian Americans, one of whom worked alongside Sean Penn after the country's terrible 2010 earthquake, are among those arrested. More than a dozen “mercenaries” who were former members of Colombia's military have also been detained or killed, according to police.
Some of the suspects were apprehended after a raid on Taiwan's embassy, where they had sought asylum. Another eight individuals are still on the loose, according to National Police Chief Léon Charles.
The incident, which occurred early Wednesday morning at Mose's home, also gravely injured his wife, who was transported to Miami for surgery. Joseph said he spoke with the first lady but did not probe about the attack out of respect for her grief.
The guys were allegedly recruited by four companies and traveled to the Caribbean nation in two groups via the Dominican Republic, according to Colombian officials. Because of their experience in a decades-long struggle against leftist rebels and powerful drug cartels, private security corporations and mercenary armies in global conflict zones are in high demand for Colombian soldiers trained in the United States.
Some of the guys uploaded images on Facebook of themselves touring the presidential palace and other tourist attractions in the Dominican Republic, which shares Hispaniola Island with Haiti, in an unfathomable twist that would have exposed any highly sensitive mission.
The perpetrators of the attack are unknown. And many concerns remain regarding how the culprits, posing as US Drug Enforcement Administration officials, were able to break into the president's mansion with no resistance from those tasked with protecting him.
Two Haitian Americans were among those held by police, in addition to the Colombians.
The arrested Americans, James Solages and Joseph Vincent informed Le Nouvelliste that the attackers only intended to apprehend Mose, not kill him, according to the investigating judge. According to the publication, Nol said that Solages and Vincent were working as translators for the attackers.
On a now-defunct website for a charity he founded in 2019 in south Florida to help residents of his hometown of Jacmel, on Haiti's southern coast, Solages, 35, identified himself as a "certified diplomatic agent," a kid champion, and a future politician.
Following a magnitude 7.0 earthquake that killed 300,000 Haitians and displaced tens of thousands, he briefly worked as a driver and bodyguard for a rescue organization founded by Penn. He also mentions the Canadian Embassy in Haiti as a previous employer. His Facebook profile, which was also taken down after his detention, has photographs of armored military vehicles and a photo of him standing in front of an American flag.
Joseph refused to name the attackers but claimed that Mose had made a lot of enemies by going after powerful oligarchs who had benefitted for years from unduly lavish state contracts.
Authorities have asked presidential aspirant and well-known businessman Reginald Boulos and former Senate president Youri Latortue to meet with prosecutors early next week for interrogation. There was no other information given, and none of the males have been charged.
According to analysts, whoever planned the heinous murder was likely connected to a criminal underworld that has grown in recent years as corruption and drug trafficking have gotten entrenched. Even before Mose's assassination, Port-au-Prince had been on edge due to gangs' growing influence, which displaced more than 14,700 people last month alone as they set fire to and plundered homes in a territorial dispute.