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President Biden said Thursday that he is sending U.S. Marines into Haiti to protect the U.S. Embassy amid unrest following the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, but "the idea of sending American forces to Haiti is not on the agenda at this time." After Moïse was murdered early July 7, Haiti's interim government asked the U.S. and United Nations to send troops to protect key infrastructure.
Haiti's elections minister, Mathias Pierre, said Biden left the door open a crack. "The evolution of the situation will determine the outcome," he told The Associated Press on Thursday. "In the meantime, the government is doing everything we can to stabilize the country, return to a normal environment, and organize elections while trying to come to a political agreement with most political parties."
The last time a Haitian president was assassinated, in 1915, President Woodrow Wilson sent in the Marines, starting a two-decade military occupation of Haiti.
Haitian authorities, the FBI, Colombia, and Interpol are scrambling to untangle the plot to kill Moïse and figure out the roles played by a cast of suspects that includes 13 Colombian military veterans, a U.S. security contractor, an opposition politician, and a Haitian who lived in Florida, calls himself a doctor, and told associated he wanted to become Haiti's president. Haiti arrested that final suspect, 63-year-old Christian Emmanuel Sanon, on Sunday.
Colombian officials said the 13 Colombians implicated in the plot — 11 arrested and two killed — left the military between 2018 and 2020. A Pentagon spokesman, Lt. Col. Ken Hoffman, said Thursday that the U.S. helped train "a small number of the Colombian individuals detained," but "this training emphasizes and promotes respect for human rights, compliance with the rule of law, and militaries subordinate to democratically elected civilian leadership."
Sanon led a May 12 meeting in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, aimed at gathering support for an ambitious plan to "save Haiti," The Washington Post reported Thursday, citing participants and documents from the subsequent initiative. Others at the meeting included Walter Veintemilla, a Florida financier who helped bankroll the Haiti operation, and Antonio "Tony" Intriago, whose security firm CTU Security appears to have recruited and hired the Colombian military veterans. The Colombians were to protect Sanon until he became Haiti's president, at which point he would repay the investors with Haitian government assets, the Post reports, adding that none of the documents mentioned killing Moïse.