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The U.S. Is Sending A Team Of Investigators To Haiti, But Not Military Assistance

Haitian citizens hold up their passports as they gather in front of the U.S. embassy in Haiti on July 10, 2021, asking for asylum after the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse.
Valerie Baeriswyl
AFP via Getty Images
Haitian citizens hold up their passports as they gather in front of the U.S. embassy in Haiti on July 10, 2021, asking for asylum after the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse.

Officials from multiple United States agencies are joining the investigation into Wednesday's assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, following days of unrest and frustration over the unanswered questions still surrounding the slaying.

Adding to the tensions, the nation faces a mounting constitutional crisis, with the nation's interim prime minister, Claude Joseph, and Senate President Joseph Lambert both jockeying for power.

At least 28 people are suspected in the plot to kill Moïse at his residence outside the nation's capital of Port-au-Prince, including 26 Colombians and two U.S. citizens of Haitian descent. Investigators are still probing for a motive in the killing, while continuing the search for others who may have been involved.

Over the weekend, Haitian citizens were reportedly lining up at the U.S. Embassy in a suburb just outside of Port-au-Prince, saying that there is too much insecurity in the country and that they fear for their lives.

Haiti is asking the U.S. for security assistance

Haiti has asked both the U.S. and the United Nations to send troops to help stabilize the country, but President Biden has so far shown little sign that he is ready to dispatch forces.

"There are no plans to provide U.S. military assistance at this time," a senior administration official told NPR.

However, it appears that the U.S. government is working to gauge what role it may be able to play in the aftermath of the assassination.

"In response to the Haitian government's request for security and investigative assistance, we will be sending senior FBI and [Department of Homeland Security] officials to Port-au-Prince as soon as possible to assess the situation and how we may be able to assist," the official said.

Speaking on Fox News Sunday, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said the FBI and DHS officials would work to determine "what we can do to help them in the investigative process."

"I think that's really where our energies are best applied right now in helping them get their arms around investigating this incident and figuring out who's culpable, who's responsible and how best to hold them accountable going forward," Kirby said.

A senior administration official confirmed that a "technical team" was being sent Sunday to the Caribbean nation. The delegation includes representatives from the National Security Council, the State Department, the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security.

Haiti's first lady is recovering in Florida

Separately this weekend, a more than two-minute audio statement posted to the verified Twitter account of Haitian first lady Martine Moïse appeared to give her first public account of what happened. The first lady was also shot in the attack and flown later Wednesday to South Florida for medical treatment. She is reportedly in stable but critical condition.

"In the blink of an eye, the mercenaries ran into my house and killed my husband with bullets," said the first lady, according to a translation by NPR.

"We cannot let the blood on President Jovenel Moïse, my husband — the president you love and who loves you too — shed in vain," she added. "I am girding my strength, because the battle he led wasn't his, he led this battle for us. We must not give up."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Dave Mistich
Originally from Washington, W.Va., Dave Mistich joined NPR part-time as an associate producer for the Newcast unit in September 2019 — after nearly a decade of filing stories for the network as a Member station reporter at West Virginia Public Broadcasting. In July 2021, he also joined the Newsdesk as a part-time reporter.
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