As the story out of Haiti following last week's assassination of President Jovenel Moise continues to unfold, more details are emerging on some of the central characters. The New York Times reports that "several of the key suspects" in the assault gathered multiple times over the past year in Florida and the Dominican Republic to discuss Haiti's future after Moise was no longer at the helm, according to Haitian law enforcement, intelligence officials from Colombia—where the ex-commandos who carried out the attack were said to be from—and participants in the meetings themselves. At the center of it all: 63-year-old Christian Emmanuel Sanon, a Haitian-born man who lives in Florida, and who's now accused of orchestrating Moise's killing so he could take over as president. More coverage:
- 'The idea was to prepare for that eventuality': So says Parnell Duverger, a retired adjunct economics professor at Florida's Broward College who says he attended about 10 of those meetings, both in person and via Zoom. "At the time of the meetings [Sanon] was, we all believed, going to become a prime minister."
- No plan for a coup: Duverger also insists these machinations had nothing to do with an assassination scheme: "I would have stopped attending if anyone mentioned a coup, let alone murder."
- Another participant's take: "Never!!! never!!! Never!!!" Frantz Gilot, a UN consultant, texted to the Times about possible conversations about an assassination. "Sanon introduced himself as a potential candidate and talked about his dream and vision for Haiti."
- Where'd the money come from? One niggling piece of the puzzle is how Sanon allegedly came up with the funds to pay for the assault, as the Times notes that he filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Florida in 2013.
- Sanon reportedly claims innocence: A source said to be close to the investigation tells CNN that Sanon has told police he knew nothing about the attack, nor about all the weapons and ammo found in the Port-au-Prince complex where he was arrested after the assassination. "He doesn't know. He doesn't know. This is what he said since the day authorities interviewed him," the source says.
- Brothers concur: Perhaps unsurprisingly, Sanon's family is backing him up. One brother, Jean Sanon, tells the Daily Mail via Insider that "it's obvious he's being framed." Another brother, Joseph Sanon, says he knew Christian Sanon was in Haiti to effect political change, but that he's a "godly man" who wouldn't have been involved with anything violent.
- Security firm under scrutiny: Named in the Times piece as another alleged participant in the meetings is Antonio Intriago, owner of CTU Security near Miami. The AP reports his firm is now under the microscope, with Leon Charles, the head of Haiti's National Police, noting, "The investigation is very advanced."
- What's Miami's part?: Writing for the Guardian, Julian Borger claims the city played "a central role" in the chaos, calling it "the launching pad and a byword for half-baked plots and coups," from the Bay of Pigs up through the Haitian assassination. "It's a hotbed: people aching for their homeland," author Ann Louise Bardach says of the "exile headquarters of the world." "They are all governments-in-waiting, and they all think they are about to take power next week."
- What's next for Haiti: With the country plunged into crisis, some locals are hoping this can be an opportunity for major change. "This is a horrible trauma," says Magali Comeau Denis, a business owner who's also the nation's former minister of culture and communication, per the Times. But "together, we can become a force."
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