The US is contemplating demands from Haiti to send soldiers to the country, which has been thrown into political upheaval since President Jovenel Moise was killed last week, according to the White House on Monday.
During a normal press conference, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that President Joe Biden is considering deploying soldiers to Haiti after the government requested security and investigative help.
“It’s still under review,” she said.
“We’re reviewing it just like we would review any request for U.S. military assistance,” he said. “If and when there is a decision to be able to speak to you about that we’ll certainly do it.”
A delegation of officials from the National Security Council and the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security though mostly from the FBI were dispatched to the Hispaniola Island nation Sunday in response to the embattled government’s request for assistance.
They returned Monday after viewing the security situation and meeting with government officials and the Haitian National Police, which is leading the investigation into Moise’s assassination, after committing to support the government as it seeks justice, a readout from the White House said.
Later Monday, the Justice Department confirmed it would assist with the criminal probe and in particular investigate “whether there were any violations of U.S. criminal law in connection with this matter.”
“An initial assessment has been conducted in Haiti by senior U.S. officials,” Anthony Coley, a spokesman for the department, said in a statement. “The department will continue to support the Haitian government in its review of the facts and circumstances surrounding this heinous attack.”
Psaki said the delegation briefed Biden Monday morning, telling him what is known about the situation in Haiti is that its future remains murky.
“What was clear from their trip is that there is a lack of clarity about the future of political leadership,” she said. “That’s an important step that the people of Haiti, the different governing leaders of Haiti, need to work together to determine a united path forward.”
“We will remain deeply engaged, as we have been for months prior to the assassination, with individuals in Haiti to provide assistance moving forward,” she said.
During a separate briefing, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said that the priority of assistance to Haiti should be on “navigating” the assassination enquiry to establish who is to blame.
Moise was killed at his house on Wednesday by a gang of at least 28 individuals, primarily Colombians, including three men with ties to the US.
During a press conference on Sunday, Haiti National Police Chief Leon Charles named Christian Emmanuel Sanon, a 63-year-old Haitian-born doctor, as a “central” suspect, claiming he arrived in the country in June on a private jet and hired operatives through a Venezuelan security firm to assassinate the president.
Five Colombians remain at large, he said.
Several people have been arrested, including Haitian Americans Joseph Vincent, 55, and James Solages, 35.
Price said they are aware of three U.S. citizens having been detained but privacy precludes him from saying anymore about them.
In a statement emailed late Monday to UPI, a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration spokesperson confirmed at least one of the men arrested in the assassination plot has been a confidential source for the department.
“At times, one of the suspects in the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise was a confidential source to the DEA,” the statement said. “Following the assassination of President Moise, the suspect reached out to his contacts at the DEA.”
According to the spokesperson, a DEA official assigned to Haiti urged the suspect to turn himself in to local authorities, while the administration and the State Department provided information to the Haitian government “that assisted in the surrender and arrest of the suspect and one other individual.”
The DEA is aware of allegations that individuals participating in the assassination plot screamed “DEA” during the attack, according to the spokesman.
“These individuals were not acting on behalf of DEA,” the individual stated.