US & Colombia: Assassination, Cover-Up and “Humanitarian” Marines in Haiti

Aram Aharonian
Moïse’s assassination highlighted the complex situation within the Colombian Army, which has become the largest exporter of mercenaries for private military security companies associated with current political actors.

It resembles a bad detective novel, where a commando of mercenaries carries out an assassination and where the governments that send and finance the assassins then make sure that their own officers investigate the crime, under the protection of a “humanitarian” commando of U.S. Marines.

All this makes it increasingly difficult to ever really know the truth about the assassination of Haitian President Jovenal Moïse on July 7.

A series of revelations, conflicting versions and leaks to the press, are directly implicating the countries that are collaborating with the investigations into the crime: Colombia and the United States. But rain is not the only problem. On August 14, an earthquake, more powerful but with fewer fatalities than the one in 2010 that left more than 300,000 dead, struck Haiti, with its aftermath of death, destruction and famine.

Washington’s humanitarian response was to send a contingent of “marines”, who, while not needing detours to invade countries, in this case have utilized the excuse of being “kind” and in “solidarity” with the Haitian tragedy, and have once again set foot in a country they invaded on several occasions and where they almost always controlled its rulers.

Some 420 sailors and around 200 Marines will work on clearing debris and reopening roads, search, rescue and evacuation of the wounded. The troops could remain in Haiti for up to four months or longer as needed. The amphibious transport USS Arlington will deploy with two MH-60 Seahawk helicopters, a surgical team and a landing craft.

In addition, the United States is sending the USNS Burlington Spearhead Spearhead Class Expeditionary Fast Transport (T-EPF-10) – an expeditionary fast transport – which will also serve as a platform to launch drones for aerial surveillance, as well as two P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft. Humanitarian aid?

The Haitian population that has been suffering one misfortune after another, between the bad rulers, the assassination of its president Jovenal Moïse by Colombian and American mercenaries, and the reaction of Nature in the form of an earthquake in the face of so much aggression, will now have to deal with the arrogance and repressive zeal of U.S. Marines, accustomed to killing, raping and torturing.

Haitians still remember the 2010 earthquake that killed nearly 300,000 people, particularly in the capital Port-au-Prince and its surroundings, and now they are again wondering about the borderline between good faith aid in a humanitarian emergency and scavenger feeding of “disaster capitalism”, since it profits from the corpses and the pain of others. The earthquake passes, the invasions do not.

The Haitian families who had been trying, for more than a decade, to overcome their grief, suddenly found themselves literally forced to face their old ghosts: fear, uncertainty, anxiety, turbulent emotional and psychological states and even the complex psychopathological conditions caused by the earthquake and its multiple aftershocks from south to north of the country.

Mercenaries and something more

Colombia’s long years of armed conflict have provided a prolific training ground for the military, usually by U.S. and Israeli experts. Private security companies around the world hire U.S.-trained soldiers for their expertise against guerrillas, peasants, laborers and even drug cartels (sometimes against and sometimes for). According to the NYT, a score of retired Colombian commandos traveled to Haiti this year after a colleague promised them security jobs with a salary of $2,700 a month, almost seven times more than their pensions, which amount to $400 and are barely enough to subsist on.

The Colombian government is in breach of the peace treaty with the guerrillas and has no arguments other than increasing repression to stop the social unrest in the country, while the army trains and deploys a new generation of soldiers who, if opportunities in Colombia do not improve, will surely be captured by an increasingly voracious global mercenary industry that has the potential to unleash more destabilization operations around the world.

Colombia has been gaining a reputation as fertile ground for mercenaries. So far, around six thousand retired Colombian soldiers have worked as security guards, pilots or aircraft and vehicle maintenance technicians in the United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Afghanistan and Dubai. The offers arrive by WhatsApp and by Colombian companies managed by retired officers, many of whom are the cover for high-ranking active cadres. But they not only seduce retired personnel, but also active military personnel: in the mid-2000s, Black Hawk helicopter pilots, trained by U.S. and Israeli instructors, resigned en masse to work for private companies. And some ended up bombing villages in Afghanistan or Iraq.

A transnational crime?

Last week, Venezuelan Ambassador to the UN, Samuel Moncada, introduced a document before the Security Council demanding an investigation of the mercenary operations linked to the US and Colombia and reported that Colombian mercenaries are part of a transnational narco-paramilitary crime network, which allegedly relies on the support of the Colombian State and “its propaganda apparatus” to launder its criminal acts.

Now, let’s get down to the facts. The arrest of 18 Colombian veterans in Port-au-Prince for their participation in the assassination of President Moïse sparked a debate about the Colombian government’s treatment of its retired soldiers and their contractors to carry out assassinations and other criminal acts to destabilize governments and favor the business of their financiers. The United States is also involved in the assassination, not only because it offered health care to the former first lady, Martine Moïse, but also because at least seven of the mercenaries were trained by the Pentagon, that is, the Department of Defense.

Foreign Minister Marta Lucia Ramirez and the government of Ivan Duque have assured that the mercenaries “were deceived”. In other words, they do not deny that they are mercenaries or that the government knew about their activities, but they have also led the efforts so that the relatives of the ex-military personnel are allowed to travel to Port-au-Prince and it is possible to achieve the repatriation of the bodies of three assailants killed in clashes with the Haitian police.

Colombia came out very quickly to try to organize the process of investigation of the events in Haiti and tried to produce a cloak that would allow it to divert attention and cover up what is happening. For its part, Washington sent senior officials from the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security to “support” the request of the Haitian Minister of the Interior, Claude Joseph, who -following the script- asked Interpol and the security agencies of the United States and Colombia for “investigators”.

The Colombian police confirmed that Moïse’s assassins left on two flights from Colombian soil, planned the crime between Haiti, the US and the Dominican Republic, and that at least four companies would have been responsible for recruiting the commandos. But in mid-July, the official discourse took a turn, and Vice President Ramirez -who was Minister of Defense of the genocidal President Alvaro Uribe Velez in 2002 and 2003- announced the sending of a consular mission to assist the detained Colombian mercenaries and to manage the repatriation of the assassins killed in the assassination. And he launched the species -which was taken up by several transnational media- that several of the conspirators, unfortunately, had been deceived: some of the Colombians who went to Haiti knew what it was all about, most of them went to another mission, which supposedly consisted in supporting the security forces of that country. And in a patriotic harangue aimed perhaps at the domestic market, he assured that “never a Colombian military” would be capable of thinking “in the hypothesis of participating in an assassination”.

Obviously, the Colombian Government and the media in that country seek to impose the narrative that the mercenaries are heroes and military gentlemen (it would not be surprising if a movie about the event appeared), but this is another disinformation operation being developed against Haiti.

In parallel, the U.S. State Department announced that Dabniel Foote would be the special envoy to Haiti to work “with Haitian and international partners,” “facilitate lasting peace and stability,” and support “efforts to hold free and fair presidential and legislative elections.”

Moïse’s assassination highlighted the complex situation within the Colombian Army, which has become the largest exporter of mercenaries for private military security companies, associated with current political actors, which are closely related to U.S., Israeli and UK economic actors, countries that find it profitable to hire Colombian murderous labor, already used in the conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Yemen. “Marta Lucia Ramirez and other officials are linked and committed to Colombia’s second largest export product, paramilitarism, which has become international mercenarism”, denounces Human Rights and migrant activist Juan Carlos Tanus.

Some 15 thousand soldiers, with high military training, leave the Colombian Army tempted by attractive contracts from contractors such as the British G4S or the American CTU Security LLC (investigated for the assassination of Moïse). They receive the money through companies legalized in Colombia that are linked to paramilitarism and drug trafficking networks.

Aram Aharonian: Uruguayan journalist and communicologist. Master in Integration. Creator and founder of Telesur. Presides the Foundation for Latin American Integration (FILA) and directs the Latin American Center for Strategic Analysis (CLAE, http://www.estrategia.la).

Translation by Internationalist 360°