By: NATHANIEL BALLANTYNE
Pictured: Ariel Henry, Joseph Lambert, Joseph Badio and Members of the Haitian Diaspora
TrueNewsBlog: Power struggles and the eventual assassination of Jovenel Moïse have led to a political and constitutional crisis in Haiti with only a handful of elected officials, including Joseph Lambert (the president of the Haitian Senate), left in office after Moise failed to hold parliamentary or municipal elections.
The man Moïse appointed (Ariel Henry) days before his demise may have conspired to kill him, according to a Haitian prosecutor in Port-au-Prince. Ariel, who became the de-facto leader of Haiti since the assassination of Moise on July 7, has been through a grinding and spewing political mill probe, focused on the killing and whether he had a role in it.
Evidence revealed that Henry had several telephone conversations on July 6 and 7 hours before and after Moïse was savagely murdered. So the question is, did Ariel Henry conspire to kill Moïse? The Washington Post recently published an OpEd asking the State Department to investigate the content of telephone conversations between Joseph Badio and Henry. Badio, according to investigators, is the mastermind of the killing. He is the man who allegedly recruited, paid the assassins, and issued orders on how many people to kill.
As the investigation unfolds, a huge battle breeds among different political factions, including the Haitian Diaspora. But, unfortunately, none of the actors fighting for power and influence have any sound plan to get Haiti out of this morass.
Joseph Lambert, the current president of the Haitian Senate, has been fighting to be the president. Still, neither the CORE group nor the American government seems willing to work with Lambert, whom many believe has been involved in drug dealing. Lambert, who has been diagnosed with a bone marrow disease, is currently seeking treatment in the Dominican Republic. But even being sick would not stop someone like Lambert from fighting to be president because it is an assured way of becoming a millionaire.
This intense battle among political factions to see who will inherit the mantle of the presidency is really a battle for the right to loot government coffers. Every Haitian president and prime minister came to power with modest means and ended up stealing hundreds of millions of dollars from the government.
So far, Henry seems to continue to enjoy the blessing of the CORE group and the American government as he continues to navigate his way out of the conflict. Two weeks ago, Henry signed a political accord with certain political actors, including former Senator Youri Latortue, whom many believed to be corrupt.
Given the current situation, it is hard to imagine Henry emerging victorious. If he is involved in the murder of Moïse, as evidence suggests, he most likely will end up in prison.
Given that Haiti is a country full of surprises, it is hard to guess what will happen next. The day after the Haitian prosecutor issued an order barring Henry from leaving Haiti, Henry fired and replaced him with one of his political supporters.
Most of the actions in the past few days are, to some extent, a concentrated and dangerous version of the political turf battles one sees during elections elsewhere.
But “political” in this instance is not meant to suggest that the assassination or the investigation into it has anything to do with policy or the future of Haiti or how the Haitian people could be helped to move out of their impotent and immiserated situation. Instead, all of it is about who will be able to steal the most with the greatest impunity.
The more powerful you are in Haiti, the more you can suck out of state coffers. Most Americans don’t think there’s much to be had in Haiti, but they’re wrong. And much of what’s available to be siphoned comes in from the exterior, in the form of foreign aid, petroleum subsidies, and international contracts. Additionally, monies can be embezzled or taxed in customs and at the ports and from profitable illegal import/export goods, such as narcotics.
The hundreds of millions of dollars that flowed into the country after the devastating 2010 earthquake further enriched many of the wealthiest Haitians, along with the politicians with whom they did business.
This year’s earthquake has no doubt caused another if lesser frisson of anticipation to run through this same crew of vultures.
As Graham Greene wrote in “The Comedians,” his 1966 novel about Haiti, “It is astonishing how much money can be made out of the poorest of the poor with a little ingenuity.”
At the center of this battle for position and profit is Ariel Henry, who just managed to keep his title of prime minister this week. But for how long, no one knows for sure. But many political factions, including some diaspora members, are looking for their part in the spoils.