December 04, 2023
On November 30, former coup leader Guy Philippe was deported to Haiti. Philippe was released from prison in the US in September after serving six-plus years on charges related to drug trafficking and money laundering. He had been held in an ICE detention center since his release.
Philippe was arrested in Haiti in January 2017 while giving an interview to a local radio station. He had recently been elected to the Senate and was due to take office shortly thereafter.
After being questioned by Haitian authorities upon his expulsion from the US, Philippe was released over the weekend. He has previously stated his desire to return to politics.
This article from 2017 provides more background on Philippe’s history and arrest.
Kenyan Parliament and Cabinet Approve Mission to Haiti Despite Delays in High Court Decision
Kenya’s National Assembly has approved the deployment of police officers to Haiti after several interventions by opposition lawmakers questioning the logistics and justifications for the force. This comes after the Kenyan Cabinet green-lighted the deployment of 1,000 police officers for the multinational security support mission in October. The decision was hotly debated, with opposition MP Rozzah Buya asking: “Where is the sense in taking 1,000 police officers to Haiti when Kenyans are dying, in need of protection, in need of service from their police officers?” In the meantime, a High Court case against the deployment, brought by former presidential candidate Ekuru Aukot, is still pending, with Judge Chacha Mwita again delaying a ruling, this time to January 26.
Several other countries, including Jamaica and Belize, had also pledged troops to the mission. Kenyan president William Ruto, during his address to the European Parliament, took the opportunity to call on EU members to actively support the multinational effort: “The Haiti mission will need some 5,000 men and women to address the challenge posed by armed gangs … The support from the EU will be instrumental in bolstering the initiative, providing the necessary resources and legitimacy,” he stated. The Organization of American States also adopted a resolution on November 17 calling on its member states to support the mission, a call echoed by the US Ambassador to the body.
Renewed Gang Attacks Worsen Security Crisis in Haiti
November saw a surge in attacks among various gangs in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area and beyond, with several groups launching assaults on cargo and civilians. The Grand Ravin gang again attacked the population in Carrefour-Feuilles, killing six people and wounding several more. In Léôgane, multiple armed men seized two boats, belonging to the NGO Food for the Poor, as they attempted to expand territorial control beyond Carrefour and Gressier.
Haiti’s national electricity provider, L’Électricité d’Haïti, was also forced to abandon its headquarters on Harry Truman Boulevard due to threats from the leader of the Village-de-Dieu gang Izo. This follows moves by several other state institutions that have left their offices due to the climate of insecurity. There were also a number of unexpected leadership shake-ups among gangs following the deaths of two successive heads of the Belekou gang in Cité Soleil, “Iska” and “Black Alex Mana.” The death of Iska led to several violent clashes in the area, with trucks unable to refuel at the Varreux terminal.
Judge Overseeing Moïse Assassination Case Orders Arrest of Jacmel Mayor
Jacmel Mayor Marky Kessa, who was implicated in the plot to assassinate former president Jovenel Moïse, was arrested on November 20 on orders of the judge overseeing the investigation. The arrest was ordered after Kessa was interviewed by the judge. The judge has also issued summons to the former secretary general of the National Palace, Lyonel Valbrun.
Judge Walter Voltaire is expecting to hear from five people who were close collaborators of the ex-president this week: Rénald Lubérice, former secretary general of the Ministers’ Council; Esther Antoine, a former advisor; Louis Edner Gonzague Day, former head of the Ministry of the Interior; Anrino Destinoble, a consultant to the education ministry; a consultant to the education ministry; and Jean Gué, the brother of former minister of agriculture former minister of agriculture Joanas Gué.
Former justice justice minister Rockefeller Vincent, who was expected to appear in front of the judge this week, did not show up. According to his lawyer, he is currently abroad and has filed an asylum claim, and wishes to speak to the judge via videoconferencing instead. De facto prime minister Ariel Henry, who was invited to appear in August, has also refused to show.
CARICOM Eminent Persons Group Fails to Broker Political Agreement for a Third Time
The third CARICOM mission tasked with brokering a political agreement has also failed. The Eminent Persons Group, which had delayed its visit to Port-au-Prince, arrived in Haiti for a weeklong trip from November 8 to 14. The disagreement stems from the opposing parties standing firm that Prime Minister Ariel Henry must resign, while parties allied with Henry’s de facto government propose expanding the High Council of the Transition, even though this was already rejected. High Council President Mirlande Manigat, who appeared to be feuding with Henry, said she favored the expansion.
The Eminent Persons Group (EPG) has also submitted a new proposal to the parties that would include a national unity government for an 18-month transition period. Prime minister Ariel Henry would stay in his position, with a Transition Council composed of seven members holding some presidential powers. The proposal details constitutional reform and formation of a Provisional Electoral Council to oversee elections. However, Henry’s resignation appears to be non-negotiable for various opposition party members, potentially making this new proposal a nonstarter.
UN General Assembly President Dennis Francis also visited Haiti to meet with the different political and civil society actors involved in discussing a potential transition, participating in a meeting alongside María Isabel Salvador, the head of the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH). Several meeting participants, including a member of the Montana Accord, and former prime minister Claude Joseph, criticized Salvador for being too partial to Henry, with Joseph alleging that she “blindly supports” Henry. The EPG, for its part, has decried the “zero-sum” approach taken by dialogue participants, noting that “Haiti continues to hurt.”
State Department Announces Sanctions Against Operators of Haitian Migrant Flights to Nicaragua
In a statement published on the website of the US Embassy in Nicaragua, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller announced that the US government will launch a new visa restriction policy targeting those who run charter flights into Nicaragua to facilitate irregular migration. “As part of our comprehensive approach to addressing irregular migration, the U.S. government is taking steps to impose visa restrictions under INA 212 (a)(3)(C) against owners, executives, and/or senior officials of companies providing charter flights into Nicaragua,” read the statement.
Another Suspect in Florida Assassination Case to Plead Guilty
As reported by the Miami Herald, Joseph Vincent, a former informant for the Drug Enforcement Administration alleged to be part of the South Florida plot to assassinate Haitian president Jovenel Moïse, is expected to plead guilty on December 5. This would make him the fourth defendant to plead guilty in the case being pursued in the United States.
US and Haiti Sign Agreement for Firearms Tracing
The United States and Haiti have signed a memorandum of understanding to enable tracing of weapons used in criminal activities, making Haitian law enforcement one of the newest agencies to use eTrace. The illicit firearm flow to Haiti has been a longstanding contributor to the security crisis. The State Department press statement website also refers to ongoing collaboration between Homeland Security Investigations and the Haitian police to develop a Transnational Criminal Investigative Unit to facilitate investigations and prosecute transnational crimes.
FBI Doubles Reward for Vitel’homme Innocent to $2 Million
The Federal Bureau of Investigations recently announced that VItel’homme Innocent, leader of the Kraze Barye gang, had been added to its “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” list. The Bureau also doubled the award to $2 million for information leading to his arrest. Innocent is wanted for his role in kidnapping a Haitian-American couple and several missionaries. Local human rights groups allege that Innocent maintains strong ties to police officers and high-ranking politicians in the current government. Another gang leader, Jhon Peter Fleronvil, who leads the Kokorat San Ras gang, and who was wanted for his role in kidnapping three US citizens at gunpoint, has been extradited to the United States.
Tensions between Haiti and the Dominican Republic Come to a Head in Border Dispute
As Haiti’s land crossings with the Dominican Republic remain shut down, Haitian civilians near the controversial canal being built for land irrigation in the Mariboux plain using waters from the Massacre River faced off against Dominican military agents near Pyramid 13, one of several border markers between the two countries. The dispute resulted from confusion over a border wall built inside Dominican borders, outside which the Dominican military was patrolling. The sudden appearance of Dominican soldiers on what Haitians believed to be the Haitian side of the wall led to a standoff with civilians attacking Samson Samiel, the Haitian director of the Protected Areas Security Brigade, over his role in allegedly stripping weapons from Haitian agents.
In the two months since controversy over the canal began, Haitian-D.R. relations have shown no signs of improving, even after both countries agreed to have the Organization of American States mediate the conflict. Some merchants and transport carriers have asked local Haitian authorities to call a truce in the closure of the land crossing to facilitate relocation of products still stuck in the Dominican Republic. Former UK prime minister Tony Blair recently visited the Dominican Republic after meeting with Haitian de facto prime minister Ariel Henry to discuss Blair’s potential involvement in mediating the dispute. According to Dominican Today, Blair’s discussion with Dominican president Luis Abinader and foreign minister Roberto Álvarez touched on “finding equitable and lasting solutions to the conflict.”
Inter-American Development Bank Approves Millions in New Funding to Haiti
The Inter-American Development Bank has green-lit several new programs, including a $44 million scheme to strengthen educational standards in Haiti. The bank also approved a $50 million grant to fight food insecurity among vulnerable populations and to improve access to preventive and essential health services.
Center for Analysis and Research on Human Rights Temporarily Suspends Activities Due to Threats
Gédeon Jean, the executive director for the Center for Analysis and Research on Human Rights, a prominent human rights organization in Haiti, announced that the Center would suspend activities due to the “imminent danger facing the staff,” reported Le Nouvelliste. “We have reached a phase where the threats that we’ve been receiving for a while now have begun to be acted upon. In fact, some members of our staff were attacked in spite of the various measures we had taken ahead of time,” Jean said during a broadcast on Radio Magik 9. “These threats are of a grave nature, and we have even been physically attacked. Most likely, the next step would be assassination. So we have no choice but to temporarily close our doors,” he lamented.