Jovenel Moïse (306243)
Credit: United States Department of State/Public Domain photo

Suspected assassins arrested in the death of Haïti President Jovenel Moïse have fingered Florida-based Christian Emmanuel Sanon, as an author of the July 7 murder plot. 

But the reports by Haitian law enforcement authorities on what transpired thus far in the death of Moïse have raised questions among the diaspora and analysts. Haitian law enforcement have said that Sanon had ambitions to become president and hired a Colombian security detail through a Doral, Florida-based firm, CTU Security, according to The Miami Herald. The original mission was allegedly to kidnap Moïse and install Sanon as president. 

Questions about Dr. Sanon’s finances

One question that arose almost immediately is how Sanon, who has lived in Boynton Beach and filed for bankruptcy in 2013, had the financial means to hire the Colombians. It is also unclear why the original mission may have changed. 

Sanon was a serial entrepreneur who started multiple businesses in Haiti, in industries from medical care to residential development, according to people familiar with him. Most of his ventures failed, said Dr. Jean-Claude Compas a retired physician who first met Sanon over a decade ago, when the suspect was running an MRI unit in Haiti. Compas said he suspects Sanon was “set up” as a suspect in the assassination. 

“He doesn’t have the capital and resources to do a big operation like that,” Compas said. “There’s somebody, someone else in the background, it cannot be him.” 

Although she did not know Sanon personally, Ancy Louis of Boynton Beach said his arrest, like the assassination of Moïse, was “shocking” to the community. 

“I hope now that the key leaders and organizations [reach a consensus], resolve the situation and establish peace in the country,” said Louis, a media personality. 

Questions about business elite 

Haitian authorities say 26 Colombians and two Haitian Americans took part in the hit squad that killed President Moïse in the wee hours of July 7. The Haitian American suspects have reportedly told law enforcement that the Colombians were in Haiti for three months and were being paid a $3,000 monthly stipend. 

Suspects James Solages, 35, and Joseph Vincent, 55, have said they served as translators for the Spanish-speaking team. While it is unclear how much Spanish they know, Solages has reportedly listed Spanish as one of his spoken languages, on public profiles. 

The latest narrative has prompted more questions from many in the diaspora.

“I can’t begin to fathom that it would take just a few thousand dollars to be able to assassinate a president, it would take millions of dollars,” said Ralph Berrouet, a social worker based in Irvington, New Jersey, reacting to Moïse’s death. “And, it requires people with a substantial amount of money, and people in the country that [are] to gain, from his assassination.” 

Moïse made many opponents among Haiti’s business class, including businessmen Dimitri Vorbe and Dr. Reginald Boulos. Boulos, who had an active arrest warrant against him on charges of embezzlement at the time of Moïse’s death, was quick to deny to The Haitian Times the widespread allegations that he or other opposition leaders played a role in Moïse’s assassination. 

Haiti analysts have also said the assassins arrived at the presidential residence July 7 driving brand-new Nissan Patrol vehicles. Universal Motors, the Nissan franchise in Haiti, is owned by the Boulos family. 

Days before Moïse’s death, Politico reported that Boulos hired a Washington lobbyist to seek United States support for an interim government in Haiti. Calls for an interim government have been a popular rallying cry among the opposition for months. 

Sources have also told The Haitian Times that Solages, the assassination supect, was “very close” to Vorbe, the businessman who runs the SOGENER energy company in Haiti. It remains unclear what other connections these elite businessmen have, if any, with the alleged assassins. 

Vorbe has condemned the assassination on social media. “What happened to Haiti is unacceptable,” Vorbe tweeted on July 11. “I condemn the cowardly acts committed against the President of my country.”

Questions about head of palace security 

Law enforcement in Haiti also plan to interview members of Moïse’s security team, including head of National Palace security Dimitri Herard, to find out why the president was left vulnerable. 

Law enforcement sources in Colombia have reported that Herard traveled to the country as recently as May. Herard is the subject of a U.S. law enforcement investigation for arms trafficking and also operates a private security company called Tradex Haiti S.A., the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) think tank has reported. 

Herard’s business partner in Tradex, Haitian American Carl Frederic Martin, received a $73,000 State Department contract to produce riot gear kits for Haitian police. The contract was awarded to a separate company called X-International that Martin owns, CEPR reported last year. 

The U.S. government has traditionally kept detailed information on Haitian government officials and held significant sway in their appointments to key roles. In 2015, for instance, the American embassy blocked the Martelly administration’s appointment of Carel Alexandre, who had previously drawn the ire of human rights groups, according to Le Nouvelliste.