United States and Canada imposed coordinated sanctions against two Haitian politicians, accusing Joseph Lambert and Youri Latortue of using their positions “to protect and enable illegal activities of criminal gangs.” armed crime”.
In one statement On Friday, Canada’s foreign ministry accused Lambert and Latortue – the current and former president of the Haitian Senate – of supporting Haitian gangs “through money laundering and other corrupt practices”.
The U.S. Treasury Department also said the couple was targeted for “engaging in or attempting to engage in activities or transactions that materially contribute or pose a substantial risk of materially contributing to the international increase of illegal drugs”.
“Joseph Lambert and Youri Latortue abused their official positions to transport drugs and collaborate with criminal and gang networks to undermine the rule of law in Haiti,” Treasury official Brian E Nelson said. know in one statement.
“The United States and our international partners will continue to take action against those who facilitate the drug trade, enable corruption, and seek to profit from the instability in Haiti.”
Haiti is facing a disaster humanitarian and security crisis, as gangs blockaded an important petrol station in the capital Port-au-Prince, resulting in fuel and water shortages. That, coupled with increased violence, has complicated the nation’s response to a cholera outbreak.
Haitian Senator Joseph Lambert is ineligible to enter the United States because of his corrupt practices and human rights abuses. The United States will continue to hold accountable anyone who destabilizes and undermines democracy in Haiti.
– Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) November 4, 2022
Haitian Acting Prime Minister Ariel Henry last month asked the international community to help form a “specialized armed force” to restore security – a call for backing by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
However, Haitian civil society groups raised a firm objection faced with the prospect of a foreign force entering the country, saying that such interventions have historically brought more harm than good.
But the situation on the streets of Port-au-Prince continues to deteriorate and the international community is pondering potential action to help stabilize the country.
Both Lambert and Latortue have been accused of having long histories of corruption, with a 2010 classified US diplomatic cable published via Wikileaks stating that Latortue is “probably the most blatantly corrupt of all”. Haiti’s leading politician”.
On Friday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said there was “credible information” that Lambert, who was also blacklisted by the State Department, was involved in an extrajudicial killing in time in government.
“Haitian Senator Joseph Lambert is ineligible for entry into the United States because of corrupt practices and serious human rights violations,” Blinken said in a statement. “The United States will continue to be accountable to anyone break the instability and undermine democracy in Haiti”.
Washington’s sanctions also freeze any US-based assets held by targeted individuals and prohibit US citizens from dealing with them.
The Treasury Department said Lambert and Latortue were involved in the cocaine trade from Colombia to Haiti. It also said the men directed others to engage in violence on their behalf.
Lambert and the office of Henry, Haiti’s prime minister, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters news agency.
Latortue in an interview with Haitian radio station Radio Television Caraibes denied the allegations against him and said that American officials ignored his advice on police training and countermeasures strategy. head to the gangs. “They trained the police and today, they have inherited what they trained,” he said. “I said ‘This is how we have to fight in Haiti.’ Since they are not happy”.
Canada and the United States have not identified which Haitian gang they believe is linked to the officials.
Last month, the United Nations Security Council voted unanimously to impose sanctions on one of Haiti’s top gang leaders, Jimmy CherizierAlso known as “Barbecue”.
Council resolution establish a mechanism to punish individuals and groups who “threaten the peace, security or stability of Haiti” – and Cherizier was the first to be sanctioned under the plan.
Meanwhile, sources on Thursday told Reuters that Haitian police had taken control of the fuel station, which has been blockaded by armed gangs since September.