Amid an unchecked cholera outbreak and uncontrolled gang violence, Haiti careened deeper into chaos Friday as one of its leading political figures was assassinated.
Éric Jean-Baptiste, 52, and a bodyguard were killed after 9 p.m. by armed men, Haiti National Police spokesman Garry Desrosiers said, according to the Miami Herald.
Jean-Baptiste, secretary general of the Assembly of Progressive National Democrats, was shot in his vehicle during an ambush in the green hills above Port-au-Prince, the Herald reported, adding that an investigation is ongoing.
The violence came as Haiti’s ambassador to the United States, Bocchit Edmond, said the Caribbean nation was “on the edge of collapse,” according to CNN.
Per the Herald, interim Prime Minister Ariel Henry said “the horrific assassination” of Jean-Baptiste and his bodyguard deepened a spiral that has continued since the July 2021 assassination of former president Jovenel Moïse.
“We strongly condemn this heinous crime against this patriot, this moderate politician committed to change,” Haiti’s Ministry of Communications said.
Gang violence in Haiti has reached the extent where a gang blockade of Haiti’s main petroleum terminal is headed into its eighth week. The United Nations said Friday that most parts of the island have cholera present. Further, the U.N. said, more than 100,000 people have fled their homes due to gang violence.
— Vikki Marshall (@VikkiMarshall4) October 29, 2022
Politician Jude Célestin, a one-time ally of Jean-Baptiste’s, said the assassination was “a stark reminder of how fragile and chaotic life has become in Haiti where no one — not the street merchant, the school child or even a former presidential candidate and businessman is safe in this country.”
“It is really time for everyone to set aside their personal interests and decide together what do we want for our country because it is dissolving right before our very eyes. It’s as if life no longer has meaning, and that is just unacceptable,” Célestin said.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has condemned what he called an “absolutely nightmarish situation” in Haiti due to the fuel blockade and other gang activities, according to CNN.
Edmond said reclaiming control of Haiti is easier said than done.
“Before getting to elections, we need to restore law and order. And our national police itself cannot … because the gangs are well armed and their firepower is far more superior … we need international assistance,” he said.
This is deep trench “gangs” dug in broad daylight to block access to #Haiti‘s main fuel depot in the capital. Took them six hours & two backhoes as corrupt US-trained & armed police stood by & watched. Haitians are demanding change not foreign troops. pic.twitter.com/j2lySxB35S
— HaitiInfoProj (@HaitiInfoProj) October 23, 2022
On Thursday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the U.S. is talking with Canada about the possibility of military intervention in Haiti, but he said nothing has been agreed upon, according to The Washington Post.
“This is a work in progress, and we are continuing to pursue it,” Blinken said after meeting with Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly.
Blinken said the two countries agreed that “more likely needs to be done” in terms of security.
“We’ve been talking about what that might look like,” Blinken said. “We have both been talking to a variety of countries to gauge their interest in and willingness to participate in that.”
“Haiti needs us,” Joly said, according to Politico.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.