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Haiti under siege after the assassination of the president

 Haiti under siege after the assassination 

Haiti's interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph declared a state of siege across the impoverished Caribbean country on Wednesday after the early morning assassination of de facto President Jovenel Moïse.

Haiti under siege after the assassination of the president
Soldiers patrol Pétion-Ville, the neighborhood where the late Haitian President Jovenel Moïse lived, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Wednesday July 7, 2021 (AP Photo / Joseph Odelyn)

Moïse was shot dead at 1 a.m. by a commando armed with military-type assault rifles. His seriously injured wife was transported by air ambulance to a trauma center in Florida. According to witnesses and an audio recording of the attack, members of the death squad spoke English and Spanish.
Sustained gunfire was preceded by one of the squadron members shouting in southern-accented American English, "Operation DEA!" Stand back and throw your guns!), An apparent ruse that sought to identify the shooters as members of the US Drug Enforcement Administration.
The US State Department denied that the assassins were US agents.
While the black-clad Moses killers have been widely described as "mercenaries," there are indications of a high level of sophistication in the attack, as well as apparent support within the Haitian regime. . Witnesses reported seeing drones flying over the home of the Haitian president during the attack and hearing the sound of a grenade.
Moïse's private residence, where the murder took place, is located in the affluent Pèlerin 5 district of Pétion-Ville, an area of ​​fortified villas in the hills above the capital, Port-au-Prince. The only road leading there is regularly monitored by Haitian security forces. Militarized police did not arrive at the scene until after dawn, when the media had full access, photographing the abandoned black hoods and bullet casings on the ground.
The streets of Port-au-Prince, usually crowded, were deserted Wednesday, the population awaiting in fear a response to the assassination. The justified fears range from a bloody state repression to an escalation of violence by armed gangs linked to the security forces, and even armed intervention by the United States and other foreign powers.
With a population of 11 million, Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
"In accordance with article 149 of the Constitution, I have just chaired an extraordinary council of ministers and we have decided to declare a state of siege throughout the country". Joseph made the statement during a speech broadcast on social media on Wednesday. He added: "You can kill President Jovenel Moïse, but you cannot kill his ideas."
The claim that Joseph's actions have anything to do with the constitution is laughable. As for Moses' "ideas", there is no indication that they consisted of anything other than securing his own power and the interests of his imperialist bosses.
Joseph is attempting to succeed Moïse, whom the majority of the Haitian population already considered an illegitimate president, even though Washington, the other major imperialist powers and the Organization of American States continued to support him.
Moses came to power following a fraudulent election, the first round of which had to be called off in 2015. He was installed through a second election the following year in which just 23 percent of the electorate participated. Under the Haitian constitution, his five-year term ended in February, but he refused to resign, insisting on staying in power for an additional year.
In the meantime, he has sought to consolidate a presidential dictatorship. After the failed legislative elections, Moses ruled by presidential decree for over a year, with his appointments, including Joseph's, never legitimately approved. On Monday, Moïse announced that Joseph would be replaced as prime minister by Ariel Henry, a longtime stooge of the United States, who would have been the sixth to hold the post since 2017. With the assassination of the president, the line of succession is far from clear.
Moïse had also replaced local mayors with his own supporters and was preparing to forcefully push through an illegal constitutional referendum that aimed to further consolidate a presidential dictatorship and protect presidents from prosecution for crimes committed during their tenure.
Moïse was the handpicked successor of Michel Martelly, a former singer known as "Sweet Micky," who had been installed as president following direct intervention in the 2010-2011 Haitian elections by the then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Martelly, like Moïse, had close political ties to former members of the US-backed Duvalier dictatorship, which ruled Haiti for three decades before "Baby Doc" Duvalier was overthrown in a popular revolt in 1986. Both have made the overhaul of the Armed Forces of Haiti (FAd'H), dissolved in 1995, a political priority.
While Martelly enjoyed the support of the Clintons (Bill Clinton was then the UN special envoy to Haiti) as responsible for reconstruction after the devastating earthquake of 2010, Moïse introduced himself as the "Haitian Trump Based on his equally suspicious statements about his success as a businessman. Both had Washington's backing because of their unconditional support for IMF-dictated policies that subordinated the interests of the Haitian masses to foreign capital's pursuit of profits based on sweatshops, agribusiness, etc. mining and tourism.
Moses has faced mass opposition in the streets since 2018, when his government suddenly announced a 50 percent hike in fuel prices as part of an IMF "readjustment" program. Mass protests continued when it emerged that around $ 4 billion in oil import subsidies provided by Venezuela under its Petrocaribe program, supposedly for Haitian development, had been pocketed by the government and its cronies. In the process, the corrupt Haitian government succeeded in consolidating Washington's support by backing its regime change operation against the government of President Nicolás Maduro.
Protests erupted again in February against Moses' refusal to step down after his term in office and his increasingly dictatorial takeover. Popular anger has only grown as the COVID-19 pandemic spreads through the impoverished country, without the government providing a single vaccination.
If protests have diminished, it is in large part because of the violent crackdown launched by the government, including by gangs linked to the police force. Opposition figures have been assassinated and residents of the slums of Port-au-Prince massacred.
Arguably reflecting the urgent discussions within the US state apparatus, the Washington Post promptly published an editorial on Wednesday that warned that Haiti was on the brink of "anarchy," posing "an immediate humanitarian threat to millions. Haitians and an equally urgent diplomatic and security challenge for the United States and the main international organizations ”. The conclusion of the Post's editorial board ? "A rapid and muscular intervention is necessary".
The Post continued: "To avoid a collapse that could have dire consequences, the United States and other influential parties - including France, Canada and the Organization of American States - should push for a force. international peacekeeping event, probably organized by the United Nations, which could provide the necessary security for the presidential and parliamentary elections to take place this year, as planned ”.
The Post apparently suggests a revival of the “peacekeepers” of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), which carried out military operations in which hundreds of people were killed in various poor neighborhoods in Port-au-Prince. -Prince between 2004 and 2017, under the command of Brazilian generals. The deployment of MINUSTAH also sparked a cholera epidemic, the first in the country's modern history, which claimed an estimated 10,000 lives.
US President Joe Biden released a statement Wednesday calling the assassination of Moses "odious" and said, "We stand ready to help as we continue to work for a safe and secure Haiti."
The last assassination of a Haitian head of state took place in 1915, when Jean Vilbrun Guillaume was captured and massacred after he himself ordered the mass execution of his opponents. The day after his assassination, US Democratic President Woodrow Wilson ordered the Marines to invade Haiti, where they remained for nearly 20 years, ruthlessly suppressing a popular revolt.
The United Nations Security Council had scheduled a meeting on the situation in Haiti on Thursday.

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