The assassination of President Jovenel Moïse opens a scenario of uncertainty in Haiti, as well as in its immediate regional environment.
The first question is: who is responsible?
Obviously, the one who controls the police, the army and who is also recognized by the USA.
Until now, Claude Joseph, who was Prime Minister at the time of the assassination of the president, is the one who holds the reins of power after having declared a state of siege.
The three branches of the state are obvious
Institutionally, the crisis could not be greater, the three branches of the state being now beheaded.
The executive power has been radically dissolved. Congress has not worked in practice since 2020, as the corresponding elections were not called in 2019. The judiciary is also not functioning for several reasons, and two days before his death, the president appointed a new Prime Minister, Ariel Henry, who did not succeed Claude. Joseph.
To further complicate matters, the Haitian Constitution stipulates that Moïse must be replaced by the president of the Supreme Court, who recently died of the Covid.
So, what remains of the Senate – 10 out of a total of 30 senators – has agreed to appoint Joseph Lambert, the Speaker of the Senate so far, as the new president. But the acting prime minister has so far ignored the appointment.
The power of Haitian gangs
Beyond the formal sector, however, Haiti has a proliferation of gangs. Heavily armed bands which control certain territories, in particular in the capital.
They are organized within the “G9”, a criminal federation led by Jimmy “Barbecue” Cherizier, a former policeman who uses populist language, criticizes the “oligarchs” and has maintained links with sectors of the ruling party.
He is not the only one; many observers note links between political and business leaders and these criminal organizations.
These gangs developed because of the state’s weakness in providing security. To give you an idea, in June alone they murdered 30 police officers and carried out over 200 kidnappings.
The 15,000-strong police force, still under development, does not control the entire territory.
The Moïse government recently ordered the reconstruction of the Armed Forces, which were disbanded years ago, and the first contingent of 500 soldiers is now completing their training, with help from Mexico.
Aware of the precariousness of the situation, the interim Prime Minister asked the United States for all kinds of support.
But for now, neither the United States nor the UN is in a position (let alone convinced) to send troops to the island.
Until Moise’s death, the United States and multilateral organizations had demanded that the president call an election and hand over power in 2022.
These elections had been called for September of this year, but in the current context it is unthinkable that they could be held under minimally acceptable conditions.
To political chaos is added the economic catastrophe which has worsened further with the coronavirus pandemic.
According to data from ECLAC (Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean) and the World Bank, 60% of the population lives in poverty (around 6.3 million), including 24% in extreme poverty; Chronic food insecurity affects half of the population, while dollars are increasingly scarce.
And while migration has been a traditional escape valve for Haitians, the pandemic has blocked it by closing borders.
However, a worsening of the crisis could lead to massive emigration.
First to the Dominican Republic, which has for the moment closed its borders with around 9,000 soldiers.
Another, more desirable but harder to reach destination is Florida, where many boats – without a navigation system – end up arriving off Santiago de Cuba, while to a lesser extent others seek out French Guiana.
Before the pandemic, Haitian migrants preferred Brazil and especially Chile.
Internationally, the assassination of the president raises several questions: who hired the Colombian mercenaries, who controls the actions of the private security companies that recruit and equip them, and how are they controlled?
Investigations so far indicate that CTU Security, which operates out of Miami and is owned by Venezuelan citizen Antonio Intriago Valera, who has good partners in Colombia.
Locally, the unanswered question is who ordered the murder.
Besides the perpetrators and the reasons for the president’s death, the underlying problem in Haiti is the lack of institutionalization in a country historically sacked by colonial powers and ravaged by bitter sugar, which has decimated much of the peasantry. to concentrate land and wealth in the hands of a few.
In short, a country with a lot of poverty and few states.
Translation by Damaris Burity