Soldiers guard the Dajabon border crossing between the Dominican Republic and Haiti after the borders were closed due to the attack by an armed group on Haitian President Jovenel Moise in the early hours of July 7, 2021.
Erika Santelices | AFP | Getty Images
The US State Department confirmed on Friday that two Americans were arrested following the brutal assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise and promised to cooperate with the Caribbean country’s authorities.
“We are aware of the arrest of two US citizens in Haiti and are closely monitoring the situation,” a State Department spokesman told CNBC. “We remain determined to cooperate with the Haitian authorities in the investigation.”
The State Department declined to comment, citing privacy considerations and referred to the Haitian authorities for more information.
Mathias Pierre, Haiti’s election secretary, identified the American suspects who are of Haitian descent to multiple news outlets Thursday as James Solages, 35, and Joseph Vincent, 55. They are among the 15 suspects Haitian police have detained so far for the shocking murder together with 13 Colombians.
The search for at least nine people continues and four others were killed in an exchange of fire by the police, according to the Haitian police. Haiti Police Chief Leon Charles on Thursday called on the Haitian public to help the authorities find the other suspects, but not “take the judiciary into their own hands”.
State Department spokesman Ned Price confirmed Thursday that the United States is responding to a request from the Haitian National Police for assistance in their investigation.
A group of armed men murdered Moise and wounded his wife at their private residence Wednesday, plunging the Caribbean nation into an even deeper political crisis fueled by gang violence and protests against the late president’s increasingly authoritarian rule.
Haiti’s interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph said the police and military were now in control of security in Haiti. The authorities declared a siege on the country after the murder and closed the international airport.
Haiti’s Ambassador to the US, Bocchit Edmond, has called for an international investigation into the attack and has asked the US for assistance in strengthening Haitian security.
The State Department on Thursday vehemently denied that the Drug Enforcement Administration was involved in the attack after the attackers reportedly identified themselves as DEA agents.
Edmond said the attackers posed as DEA agents and described them as “well-trained professional killers, commandos” based on a video taken from a neighbor’s house during the attack. He also noted that some spoke Spanish. Haitians speak French and Creole.
Protests against the late Haitian president have turned violent in recent months as opposition leaders and their supporters demanded his resignation.
Moise had been accused of trying to increase his power even after his term ended in February. Opposition leaders pointed to his approval of decrees restricting the powers of a court that scrutinizes the government and his creation of an intelligence agency under his sole responsibility.
Opposition leaders and their supporters also turned down Moise’s plans to hold a constitutional referendum, with controversial proposals that would bolster the presidency’s power.
– The Associated Press contributed to this report