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Hunting assassins in Haiti

Hunting assassins in Haiti

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Who orchestrated the killing of the country’s president? Suspicion is now falling on the country’s prime minister.


Transcript
Andrew Butler, narrating:

Hello, I’m Andrew and this is the Sensemaker.

One story, every day, to make sense of the world.

Today, has Haiti become a narco state?

***

When Ariel Henry became acting Prime Minister and President of Haiti in July 2021, he promised to usher in a new era of political unity and peace.

“The other problem was, fundamentally I regarded him as unfit for the job…” 

Dominic Cummings giving evidence to Parliament, May 2021

Six months after leaving his role as chief aide following an internal power struggle, Dominic Cummings sat in parliament and gave evidence on the government’s handling of the pandemic.

“Moving on now, Haiti has appointed a new prime minister in the wake of president Moïse’s assassination Ariel Henry assumed office two weeks after the president’s assassination…” 

WION

Just two weeks before Jovenel Moïse, then the country’s president, had been assassinated in his own home in the hills above the capital of Port au Prince.

“The the assassination of Haiti’s president Jovenel Moïse has drawn international condemnation Haiti has declared a two-week state of emergency following the deadly attack on the president.”

DW News

His assassination plunged Haiti, a country that was already in disarray, into further crisis.

“Aid workers in Haiti are racing to provide food water and shelter to survivors of Saturday’s earthquake before a major tropical storm hits the country…”

BBC News

“Clashes between the opposition and security forces right next to the presidential palace it’s become a regular occurrence on the streets of Port au Prince”

Al Jazeera

But Ariel Henry was seen as a safe pair of hands. 

The then 71-year-old neurosurgeon was a close ally of Jovenel Moïse – and he was no stranger to crises. 

He led the public health response following the devastating 2010 earthquake and the deadly cholera epidemic that followed in 2012.

It seemed like stability might be on the cards for Haiti. That was until last September.

“Ariel Henry has close ties to the prime suspect of the president Moïse assassination…” 

France24

Haitian authorities investigating the death of Moise have arrested 44 suspects, including foreign mercenaries and serving police officers. 

They believe that President Moise might have been killed because he was cracking down on the systemic corruption that meant drugs flowed through Haiti’s public institutions. 

Since the 1980s, Haiti has been an international centre for cocaine trafficking.

“Neighbourhoods in Port au Prince are ruled by competing gangs who either support or oppose the government…”

VICE

President Moise – who was increasingly unpopular with Haitians – was compiling a comprehensive list of high ranking politicians and businessmen who were involved in Haiti’s drug trade. His plan was to send these names off to the US government. 

In September last year Ariel Henry was accused of having close ties with Joseph Felix Badio – a former justice ministry official who is currently wanted by authorities on suspicion organising the assassination. 

It was reported that the pair spoke on the phone before and after the assassination. 

Ariel Henry was banned from leaving the country and Haiti’s top prosecutor called for him to be charged. 

But Ariel Henry says he never spoke to Joseph Felix Badio – and responded by sacking the prosecutor. 

So just how committed is he to solving the murder of his predecessor?

***

New evidence published by the New York Times suggests there is more tying Ariel Henry to Joseph Felix Badio. 

As well as the phone calls, the newspaper alleges that four months after the assassination, while wanted by police, Joseph Felix Badio visited the Haitian leader’s house at night. Twice. 

Now, the alleged contact between Ariel Henry and Joseph Felix Badio doesn’t prove the leader helped the suspect, or that he was actually involved in the plot. 

And Ariel Henry strongly denies any involvement at all. He’s promised to bring the assassins to justice. 

But the allegations don’t do anything to help a country in deep crisis.

Violent crime and kidnappings are on the rise — with ordinary people often caught in the crossfire. 

For now it seems like the people of Haiti might be waiting a while for that new era of political unity and peace.

Today’s story was written by Nimo Omer and produced by Xavier Greenwood.


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