The United States moved to block two American citizens, including a former soldier, from leaving Haiti, a day after they were arrested on suspicion of involvement in an attempt to kill the Haitian president.
The United States has arrested two American citizens in connection with the killing of Haiti’s former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. One of the suspects, a U.S. citizen, was arrested Wednesday morning in Haiti, Haitian authorities said. The second suspect, an American, was arrested in Miami, Florida on Tuesday.
Here’s what you need to know:
A police patrol in Port-au-Prince on Thursday.credit…Valerie Baeriswyl/Agence France-Presse – Getty Images
Taiwanese authorities said Friday that 11 heavily armed men were arrested Thursday at their country’s embassy in Port-au-Prince, about a mile from where Haitian President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated.
It was not immediately clear whether those arrested at the embassy were involved in the murder. Joanne Ou, a spokeswoman for Taiwan’s foreign ministry, said Haitian police were still investigating the case.
In a separate statement issued Friday, Taiwan’s embassy in Haiti condemned the killing as brutal and barbaric, calling those arrested on its territory mercenaries.
Ms Au, a spokeswoman, said security staff had spotted a group of armed and suspicious-looking individuals breaching the embassy’s security perimeter on Thursday morning and immediately notified the police and embassy staff.
She said no embassy staff were on the premises when the attackers were discovered, as they had been ordered to work from home shortly after the killing, which took place in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
Ou said embassy officials immediately agreed to allow Haitian police to enter the compound to search it and make arrests.
By 4 p.m. Thursday, police had arrested the suspects, she said, adding that no one had been hurt and that an initial inspection revealed minimal property damage.
It was not immediately clear whether the 11 people arrested at the embassy were part of the group of 19 suspects arrested in connection with the killing, according to Haitian authorities.
Haiti is one of 15 countries with full diplomatic relations with Taiwan, an autonomous island claimed by China. The Taiwanese embassy in Port-au-Prince is located in Pétion-Ville, the suburb where Mr. Moïse was murdered.
At this difficult time, Ou said, the Taiwanese government reaffirms its support for interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph to guide Haiti through this crisis and restore democratic order.
Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, in 2017.Credit…Daniel Berehulak for The New York Times
Since its inception, Haiti as a country has been hampered by outside interests.
For decades the European powers and then the United States refused to recognize the country as an independent republic.
The Caribbean nation became the first republic with a black government when it declared its independence from France on New Year’s Day 1804. On that day Santo Domingo, once the richest colony of France and known as the jewel of the West Indies, became Haiti.
It was a land long coveted for its riches – sugar, coffee and cotton – marketed by enslaved people. The Declaration of Independence means that for the first time a cruelly enslaved people has wrested its freedom from its colonial masters. But this happened only after decades of bloody war.
In 1825, more than two decades after independence, King Charles X of France sent warships to the capital Port-au-Prince and forced Haiti to compensate former French colonists for lost property.
Haiti was unable to pay this enormous sum and was forced to take on a debt that it had to repay for almost a century. Throughout the 19th century. In the early twentieth century, a period of political and economic instability, the country invested little in its infrastructure and education.
In 1915, American troops invaded the country after a mob assassinated Haiti’s president.
The United States later justified the occupation as an attempt to restore order and prevent a perceived imminent invasion by French or German forces. But U.S. troops again introduced forced labor in road construction projects and were later accused of extrajudicial killings.
This largely unpopular occupation ended in 1934, but American control of Haiti’s finances lasted until 1947.
After a series of coups in the middle of the last century, the Duvalier family, father and son dictators, ruled Haiti with brute force until the 1980s. His regime plunged Haiti into debt and introduced the Tontons Macoutes, the notorious secret police that terrorized the country.
In the early 1990s, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a former Roman Catholic priest, was elected president. He was voted out twice in the next 15 years.
With 11 million inhabitants, Haiti is considered the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
In 2010 it was hit by a devastating earthquake that killed around 300,000 people. The country has never recovered and is still in a state of economic underdevelopment and insecurity. In 2016, a cholera outbreak linked to UN peacekeepers killed at least 10,000 Haitians and sickened another 800,000.
Then, early Wednesday, Jovenel Moise, who became president in 2017, was assassinated at his residence.
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