Ivan Valencia / AFP
More than a dozen former Colombian soldiers were arrested in Haiti in connection with Wednesday’s events Assassination of President Jovenel Moses At first it sparked shock and shame in Colombia and calls for speedy justice.
“It is impossible for Colombia to make international headlines because of a group of criminals and murderers,” the Colombian vice president said. Marta Lucia Ramirez He said Friday after the bound Colombians were shown in front of television cameras in the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince. “They must face the weight of justice.”
But some officials and analysts now say the Colombians, who they claim were recruited by private security firms in Haiti, are being used as scapegoats. They noted that Moyes had many enemies at home – ranging from political opponents to powerful criminal gangs – while no clear motive emerged as to why Colombians targeted Moise.
The Center for Analysis and Research on Human Rights, an independent organization in Haiti, wondered how the killers could easily get into the president’s bedroom and carry out their attack without killing or injuring any of the presidential guards.
In fact, Stephen Benoit, an opposition senator in Haiti, blamed Moise’s security guards for the attack, which caused the president to be shot and gouge out his left eye. First Lady Martin Moyes was injured in the attack and is now recovering in a Florida hospital. Moise was “assassinated by his security agents”, Benoit Reporters in Haiti. “They weren’t Colombians.”
Jean-Marie Axel, Haitian ambassador to Colombia, told Bogotá time The newspaper said that the Colombians are not the masterminds, and added that those behind the assassination may try to kill veterinarians detained in the army to prevent them from testifying before the Haitian authorities.
At a press conference in Bogota on Friday, Colombian Police Director General Jorge Luis Vargas confirmed that at least 13 of the detained Colombians are former soldiers who have retired since 2018. Vargas said the former soldiers initially traveled from Bogota to the Dominican Republic in May. and june. They then crossed the border into Haiti, where he said they were recruited into jobs with four private security firms for a salary of $2,700 a month.
Instead of acting as a secret assassination squad and hiding their whereabouts before they left for Haiti, a few Colombian Army vets posted on Facebook. pictures of themselves In tourist sites in the Dominican Republic. Moreover, hours after Moyes’ murder, the Colombians apparently did not offer any resistance because the police and Haitian civilians arrested them in their hotels.
“These were the so-called elite forces,” said Luis Moreno, the acting US ambassador to Haiti. The Wall Street Journal. “And they escaped two blocks away and were arrested, allegedly by civilians? Why were they all arrested, almost instantly?”
The wife of Francisco Uribe, one of the detained Colombians, told a radio station in Bogota that her husband had been recruited by a security company called CTU and was told he would work as a bodyguard for wealthy families across Latin America. “It was a business opportunity,” added the woman, who asked not to be named.
In fact, Colombian police and former soldiers increasingly found work abroad once they retired from active duty.
Colombia has been battling violent rebels and drug cartels for most of the past 50 years, and between 10,000 and 15,000 officers and soldiers leave the armed forces each year, according to John Marolanda, a former army colonel who heads the Colombian Association of Retired Military Officers. Upon retirement, he said, their pensions are relatively small, which has led many to use their military experience to get jobs at private security firms.
“There are no rules preventing their recruitment” by foreign security firms, the commander of the Colombian armed forces, General Luis Fernando Navarro, told a news conference Friday.
Over the past two decades, Colombians have served as bodyguards, helicopter pilots and frontline soldiers in Afghanistan, Dubai, Iraq, Libya and Yemen. But in some cases, authorities say they cooperated with illegal armed groups – such as drug cartels in Colombia and Mexico.
It remains unclear exactly what the former Colombian soldiers detained in Haiti were doing, but on Friday the Colombian president Evan Duque He announced that he had sent police intelligence agents to Port-au-Prince to assist the local authorities in the investigation.