"Our support is to help the people of Haiti and to help them through the most difficult times," said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki
Authorities from the United States and Colombia announced that they would send law enforcement and intelligence officials to help Haiti after the assassination of President Jovenel Moise and the arrests of Colombian and US citizens by the Haitian authorities.
The United States will send FBI law enforcement officials to Haiti as soon as possible, the White House said on Friday, adding that strengthening Haiti's law enforcement capacity remains a key US priority.
Officials from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security will participate, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a briefing. We want to help the people of Haiti go through a very difficult time, Psaki said.
In addition, Psaki announced that Washington would also send Haiti vaccines against COVID-19 and an aid package of 5 million dollars to help the National Police combat gang violence.
Colombia's national intelligence directorate and the intelligence director of the national police will also travel to Haiti with Interpol to assist in the investigations, Colombian President Iván Duque said on Friday.
We have offered all possible help to find out the truth about the material and intellectual authors of the murder; Duque wrote on Twitter that he has just spoken on the phone with the interim Prime Minister of Haiti, Claude Joseph.
On Friday, Colombian security sources told Reuters that several Colombians believed to be part of the command that killed Moise at his home early Wednesday morning had spent more than a month in Haiti before the murder, after entering through the neighboring Dominican Republic.
The murder of Moise, a 53-year-old former businessman, sparked international outrage and plunged Haiti into a feared political crisis that could exacerbate rising hunger, gang violence, and the COVID-19 outbreak.
Haitian police stated that the murder was carried out by a squad of 26 Colombian mercenaries and 2 Haitian-Americans. The two Haitian-Americans were identified as James Solages, 35, and Joseph Vincent, 55, from Florida.
Nineteen of the men were captured following a shootout with Haitian authorities in Petionville, a suburb on the slopes of the capital Port-au-Prince. At the same time, three were killed, and eight remain at large, according to Haitian police.
Authorities are still searching for the masterminds of the operation, they said. Haitian authorities have not motivated Moise's murder or explained how the killers managed to circumvent his safety.
Moise had faced massive protests against his government since taking office in 2017, first over allegations of corruption and his management of the economy and then over his growing grip on power.
Moise himself spoke of the role of the dark forces behind the unrest: fellow politicians and the corrupt oligarchs who see his efforts to clear government agreements and see Haitian politics as contrary to his best interests.
Investigations show that 19 Colombian suspects, and three who were killed and the rest captured, withdrew from the Colombian army between 2018 and 2020, the commander of the armed forces, General Luis Fernando Navarro, told reporters on Friday.
Colombia is seeking more information from Haiti about all the suspects, said Jorge Luis Vargas, director of the Colombian National Police. He said the two victims traveled to Haiti via Panama and the Dominican Republic, which joins Happy on the island of Hispaniola.
Confusion about political control
The government declared a state of emergency for 15 days on Wednesday to help authorities apprehend the killers but has since urged businesses to reopen.
Grocery stores, gas stations, and commercial banks reopened on Friday, although the streets remained quiet, with only a handful of vendors.
Moise's assassination sparked confusion over who is now the legitimate leader of this country of 11 million, the poorest in America.
" The assassination ... has created a political and institutional vacuum at the highest level of the state, " said Haitian opposition politician André Michel. " There is no constitutional provision for this exceptional situation ."
Under the 1987 constitution, the head of the Supreme Court must assume power. But the amendments that are not unanimously recognized in the country establish that he must be the prime minister or, in the last year of a president's mandate - the case of Moise - that the parliament must elect a president.
The head of the Supreme Court died last month from COVID-19 amid a surge in infections in Haiti, which is one of the few countries in the world that has yet to start a vaccination campaign.
There is no sitting parliament, as legislative elections scheduled for late 2019 have been postponed amid political turmoil.
This same week, Moise appointed a new prime minister, Ariel Henry, to replace Joseph. However, he had not yet been sworn in when the president was assassinated.
Joseph arrived on Wednesday to take command of the situation. Still, Henry - who is seen more favorably by the opposition - told the Haitian newspaper Le Nouvelliste that he did not consider Joseph the rightful prime minister.