Haitians protest and pay homage as country grapples with murder of president
PORT-AU-PRINCE, July 14 (Reuters) – Scattered protests erupted in the Haitian capital on Wednesday as gasoline shortages add to concerns over insecurity and police announced new arrests a week after the assassination of President Jovenel Moise which threw the already troubled Caribbean nation into political chaos.
Almost all of Port-au-Prince’s gas stations were closed and long queues formed outside the few that were still functioning, with residents blaming both the criminal gangs that control the main supply routes and opportunistic black market fuel sellers crippling distribution in Haiti’s largest city.
Some protesters set tires on fire in the middle of sandy streets, which remained quieter than usual following Moise’s murder in early July 7.
Moise was shot dead in his home by what Haitian authorities describe as a unit of assassins, including 26 Colombians and two Haitian Americans. Eighteen of the Colombians were arrested, three were killed by police and five were still at large, Haitian police said. A third Haitian-American, Christian Emmanuel Sanon, was arrested Sunday by the Haitian authorities, who accused him of being the mastermind of the attack.
Haitian police said Wednesday they had arrested two other men after searching their homes and finding weapons.
Police said at a press conference that 24 police officers had been subject to “precautionary” measures and four were in isolation as part of the investigation.
National Police Chief Leon Charles has identified former Haitian Senator John Joel Joseph as a key player in the plot. He provided weapons and scheduled meetings, Charles said, adding that police were looking for him.
Charles also singled out a company he identified as the World Wide Capital Lending Group as being responsible for raising funds “to carry out this criminal act.”
Florida-based World Wide Capital Lending Group did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Colombian media Semana reported that one of the Colombians in detention confessed to Haitian authorities Wednesday afternoon that seven of the Colombian suspects were what he called Moise’s “killers”, without giving further details.
Semana did not provide a source for the apparent confession, which she said the retired soldier made “in tears”. The report was not verified by Reuters, and Colombian officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Prosecutors are preparing to question the head of Moise’s security team, Dimitri Herard. It was not clear whether the interrogation had already taken place.
Moise’s murder came amid an upsurge in gang violence in recent months that has displaced thousands of people and hampered economic activity in the poorest country in the Americas. At the Justice Department where Herard was to be questioned, spray-painted graffiti on the wall said, “We reject gang power.
Eugène France, 63, speaking outside the ministry, said he struggled to sell the men’s dress shoes he put around his neck and feared more violence.
“No one is safe, not even the police,” he said. “I’m scared because the gangs keep killing people and I can’t sell anything.”
Outside the National Palace, a small crowd gathered in front of a makeshift memorial with floral arrangements, rows of white candles and a Haitian flag halfway up in front of a large photograph of Moses.
Damy Makenson, a 30-year-old office worker, slowly approached the memorial, laid flowers and solemnly made the sign of the cross on his head and chest.
“He died working to remake Haiti, and I want you to know that his ideas did not die with him,” said Makenson, comparing Moise to Jean-Jacques Dessalines, a Haitian founding father and military leader who helped put an end to French colonization. reigns in the early 1800s.
In New York, Haiti’s ambassador to the UN, Antonio Rodrigue, on Wednesday launched an appeal for international aid.
“In these uncertain times, Haiti needs the support of the international community more than ever,” he told the 193-member United Nations General Assembly, where the ambassadors stood to mark a minute. of silence in honor of Moses.
Rodrigue cited the organization of democratic elections and the government’s ability to meet Haiti’s socio-economic needs as challenges facing the nation.
US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said a recent US delegation to Haiti called for dialogue to help enable free and fair presidential and parliamentary elections.
The United States is still evaluating Haiti’s request for assistance, and its goal is to help the Haitian government “navigate the investigation into the assassination of President Moise,” the department spokesman said. ‘State, Ned Price.
“The Ministry of Justice will continue to support the Haitian authorities in their examination of the facts and circumstances surrounding this attack,” Price said during a press briefing on Wednesday.
Reporting by David Alire Garcia in Port-au-Prince, Michelle Nichols in New York and Daphne Psaledakis in Washington; Additional reporting by Oliver Griffin in Bogota; Written by Daina Beth Solomon and Cassandra Garrison; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien and Leslie Adler
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