Haiti president, Jovenel Moise, assassination
Haiti President Jovenel Moise ruled Haiti from 2017 until his assassination on July 7, 2021. File photo.

By Garry Pierre-Pierre | The Conversation

I was in the middle of the Jean-Bertrand Aristide coup d’etat in the Fall of 1991 when I got the call.  It was the foreign editor at the Sun-Sentinel, where I worked at the time, asking me to return to Fort Lauderdale ASAP to head to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. 

A group of celebrity activists were headed to the military-controlled detention camp. They were looking into the conditions of Haitian refugees being held there temporarily after fleeing Haiti on rickety boats to reach the shores of South Florida. It would be the first time journalists would be interviewing the detainees.

I got the scoop and, three weeks later, I returned to Haiti to continue reporting on the situation on the ground. In that brief span of time, I came back to find that an entire anti-Aristide movement had been established, with hierarchy and all. It was FRAPH, the French acronym  that sounds like “frapper,” which means “to hit.” FRAPH had a slogan, graffiti scrawled on walls throughout the country and its own sort of charismatic leader in Emmanuel “Toto” Constant. 

The whole thing was well organized. They would slide press releases under journalists’ hotel rooms. Constant’s private home served as FRAPH’s headquarters, where he would hold court in front of the gaggle of journalists in town to cover the story. 

After the first news conference, I told my Haitian colleagues that FRAPH reeked of a CIA operation with its efficiency. I reasoned that if Haitians were that organized, the country would not be in the condition it was in then. 

Years later, Constant would confess that indeed, he was a CIA agent, working for peanuts considering the destabilizing role he was playing to undermine the rule of law. Eventually he settled in Queens, NY and did what grifters do. He was sent to prison for his role in a mortgage scheme, then deported to Haiti a few years ago.  

Another efficient operation 

The assassination of Jovenel Moise at the hands of foreign mercenaries raises many questions for me and I ask again: What role, if any, is the CIA playing here? 

There is absolutely no way that the agency was unaware of this plot because one of the things we learned clearly during the odious Trump regime is that every foreign leader, including allies, are routinely monitored.

For obvious reasons, some people are looking at this assassination through the political prism since, after all, Moise was president. That assessment would be wrong. To me this was a mob hit. It was personal. The assassins riddled the man with bullets, bashed his eyes in and broke his arm and neck — presumably before opening a fusillade on him and his wife Martine Moise. She is still fighting for her life at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami as of this writing. This was clearly a message.

The assassination of Jovenel Moise at the hands of foreign mercenaries raises many questions for me and I ask again: What role, if any, is the CIA playing here? 

The assassination prompted Reginald Boulos, an opposition leader and former ally of Moise to tell The Haitian Times exclusively that the opposition couldn’t carry this out even if it had wanted to. 

The last Haitian president to be assassinated while in office was Jean Vilbrun Guillaume Sam. He was killed in July 1915, following a period of intense instability where Haiti was changing presidents like people change shirts. That instability was the catalyst for the American invasion months later. The U.S. would occupy Haiti until 1934. 

And so we are 106 years later at a similar crossroads and there are people who are making references to that period. The U.S should not get involved militarily. It is time for Haitians to take the lead in solving their problems. It’s about time we take the training wheels off and let Haitians ride out this crisis. 

A man alone on an island 

I don’t know who killed Jovenel or ordered the assassination, and we may never know. In Haiti that’s the way it is. Jean Dominque, the famed journalist, was gunned down in front of his radio station. His killers remain at large more than 20 years later. One thing I do know is that Jovenel Moise did not have to die. Not this way. 

I was told by almost everyone I know in his circle that Moise was arrogant and did not listen to advice, sage or otherwise. He fancied and presented himself as a man of the people, hailing from Port-de-Paix, a seaside city in the country’s northwest. He dressed in clothes that engulfed his small frame and spoke like a peasant. 

But the peasants did not love him back. He was mistrusted and seen as a puppet of the elite whose interests he was defending. He had no support from the masses, the civil society nor the political class. Even his PHTK cohorts abandoned him. He was a man alone on an island. 

When Moise embarked on what is now clearly a suicide mission of lashing out at his political opponents as well as the captains of Haiti’s economy, the backlash was swift.

When Moise embarked on what is now clearly a suicide mission of lashing out at his political opponents as well as the captains of Haiti’s economy, the backlash was swift. He had no chance of winning. He kicked butts and named names. Enemies were fleeing to exile and he ruled for most of his presidency by decree, having failed to hold parliamentary elections. 

His only trump card was from the former president of the United States. That administration needed Haiti’s vote to ostracize Venezuela. Moise made the pilgrimage to Mar-a-Lago, not the White House, to etch out a transactional agreement: Give me the vote and I got your back.   

This deal was not well-received in Haiti. For one thing, Venezuela was the only ally that respected Haiti and gave the country a sweetheart deal in the PetroCaribe program, where the Haitian government is the exclusive seller of oil and reinvest the profits. Of course, that turned into a huge, unsettled scandal with people still asking for financial transparency. Moise was deeply involved as a bag man for others before being tapped by his predecessor to lead the PHTK party, according to audits of the PetroCaribe funds. 

Unexpected mourning 

I have written critically about Moise, as I have of all of his predecessors. It’s not personal. I don’t have an agenda. I don’t want to hold political office. I would be terrible at it because I don’t suffer fools gladly. I want to try to explain Haiti to readers of The Haitian Times in a way that makes sense because they’re not on the ground in Haiti. 

I’m mourning Moise’s death. It has affected me in a way that I didn’t think it would. I never met or interviewed Moise, unlike the other presidents, whom I got to know personally. I say enough is enough. In the words of singer Bob Dylan, how many more people must die before we’re allowed to be free?

And oh, there is one thing that the CIA or U.S. law enforcement officials can do: Help find the killers and bring them to justice. 

It’s only the fair and decent thing to do. 

Garry Pierre-Pierre

Garry Pierre-Pierre is a Pulitzer-prize winning, multimedia and entrepreneurial journalist. In 1999, he left the New York Times to launch the Haitian Times, a New York-based English-language publication serving the Haitian Diaspora. He is also the co-founder of the City University Graduate School of Journalism‘s Center for Community and Ethnic Media and a senior producer at CUNY TV.

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6 Comments

  1. Since you are a journalist, please do an investigation in the reformed that Jovenel wanted to do. Are all reform in the country suicidal? Please don’t mixed the political parties with the Oligarchy.

  2. Gary,
    I am perplexed by this op-ed. It starts by confirming how your instinct that “FRAPH reeked of a CIA operation with its efficiency.” This was later confirmed when Toto did “confess that indeed, he was a CIA agent.”

    Then you went on to share those same instincts in the form of a question which asked whether “The assassination of Jovenel Moise at the hands of foreign mercenaries raises many questions for me and I ask again: What role, if any, is the CIA playing here?”

    What is perplexing to me is your closing which states that there “is one thing that the CIA or U.S. law enforcement officials can do: Help find the killers and bring them to justice. ”

    If the CIA is/may be linked to the president’s assassination, then how could they (the CIA) bring the killers to justice?

  3. As per the reference for the CIA and US Law enforcement officials to help find the killers and bring them to jistice, that, in my opinion, is wishful thinking, and will propably happen like when hell freezes over!

  4. U know very well who hired assassins to torture & kill President Jovenel, and it wasn’t the CIA. Don’t even try to spew Fake News; Opposition oligarchs signed their end w this barbaric assassination

  5. “The assassins riddled the man with bullets, bashed his eyes in and broke his arm and neck — presumably before opening a fusillade on him and his wife Martine Moise.”
    I’ve read almost every article about the assassination of President Moise, and this is the first time I’ve read of the horrible events that preceded his
    death by gun shots. I’m stunned by this news. I agree that his death was personal for someone.

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