What’s behind the arrest of Joseph Félix Badio at this time?


  • What’s behind the arrest of Joseph Félix Badio at this time?
  • By Raymond A. Joseph 

The arrest last Thursday, October 19, of Joseph Félix Badio is puzzling, eliciting all sorts of commentaries, including that it would be part of a decision in high places to finally fire the de facto Prime Minister, Dr. Ariel Henry, from the post to which he was named by a tweet of the CORE Group syndicate of Western ambassadors in Port-au-Prince, on July 20, 2021.

Mr. Badio, thought to be the mastermind behind the assassination, in the wee hours of July 7, 2021, of Haiti’s de facto President Jovenel Moïse, has been moving around freely ever since, although for the sake of formality, a Police warrant was issued for his arrest soon after the magnicide. Since he was hiding in plain view, going about his business, one wonders why was he arrested, peacefully, last Thursday, while he was shopping at a supermarket in Petion-Ville, that upscale suburb of the Port-au-Prince? Police Commissioner Ernst Dorfeuille, with back-up, reportedly carried out the arrest.

It’s quickly noted that Badio’s arrest occurred while his main protector, the neurosurgeon-turned-politician, now Supreme Chief in Haiti, wearing the hats of Prime Minister and President, was out of the country. As reported, Ariel Henry was in Canada, along with the Heads of State and of Government of the 15-member CARICOM organization who were attending a two-day summit in Ottawa, Canada, at the invitation of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. On conclusion of the summit, the Haitian Prime Minister flew to Mexico, on Friday, October 20, to attend a conference at the initiative of Mexico’s president.

Undoubtedly, Dr. Henry learned of the arrest of his protégé, just as we all did, when Garry Desrosiers, the spokesperson for the Haitian National Police (PNH) made the announcement, confirming what was first thought to be a rumor, a sort of April Fool’s joke in the middle of October. It’s reported that even Police Chief Frantz Elbé was not aware that the arrest was to take place. Is that why, on return to Haiti, the Prime Minister fired Frantz Elbé? That’s what we learned Tuesday morning. If that’s true, we can say the plot thickens.

Why all the fuss about Badio’s arrest?

Some people ask why all the fuss about this arrest? Well, Félix Badio, who is said to have played a major role in the assassination of President Moïse, is close to the Prime Minister. On Tuesday evening, July 6, 2021, before the assassination, and after the horrible act, sometime after one o’clock in the morning of July 7, he was in conversation with Ariel Henry, who had been named to the Prime Minister’s post by the assassinated president, but who was yet to be not sworn-in. In fact, he was to be sworn to the post that same July 7. Even the New York Times reported, last Friday, that it had gotten hold of the times of the phone conversations between the two men. Repeatedly, though, Dr. Henry has said he spoke to so many people that day, he doesn’t remember speaking to Badio.

However, action speaks louder than words. Since he became Prime Minister on July 20, 2021, after the CORE Group had pushed out Claude Joseph, who briefly had assumed the role of president, after the assassination, Dr. Henry has been the main protector of Félix Badio. To be noted Claude Joseph, formerly foreign minister and interim Prime Minister when the president was assassinated, had quickly assumed the role of president with the help of Helen Ruth Meagher La Lime, the representative of UN Secretary General António Guterres, who was in charge of the Integrated Office of the United Nations in Haiti, known by its French acronym BINUH.

Since the assassination, it’s recorded that Félix Badio has, more than once, met with the Prime Minister, who even facilitated his surreptitious departure from Haiti for some time. Eventually, he returned as surreptitiously as he had left and has been living in Haiti, hiding in plain view, as we’ve already said, and not arrested as others accused of being implicated in the assassination. Some of these have been deported to the United States, where they have been tried. At least two having been condemned to life in jail for the role they played. So, the disturbing question remains: Why is Badio arrested at this time?

Any role of Michel Martelly in Badio’s arrest?

Although there’s a rumor circulating on social media that Michel Joseph Martelly, the former president (2011-2016) is the one who ordered Police Commissioner Ernst Dorfeuille to arrest Badio, few people believe that the self-styled “Legal Bandit” still disposes of all that power, even being in control of a sector of the HNP. But Haiti is a mysterious place and no one doubts that Martelly still influences some actions in the government of Ariel Henry, just as he did in that of Jovenel Moïse, “the Banana Man” he chose to replace him when he left office.

And why would Martelly order Badio’s arrest at this time? It’s said that he did so, especially while Ariel Henry was out of the country, to get back at the Prime Minister who, he believe, had denounced him to the United Nations for alleged connection to some of the gangs causing havoc in Haiti. Reportedly, in the latest report of the UN experts on the situation in Haiti, the name of Martelly appears in the list of those sanctioned for their use of gangs in pursuit of political power.

The reasoning behind Martelly’s action would be that the arrest of Badio will force those supposedly pursuing the idea of “Justice for Jovenel Moïse” to order the arrest of Ariel Henry, who is also implicated in the president’s assassination.

The international community also may want Ariel Henry out

Others think that some bigwigs in the international community also may have reasons to get rid of Dr. Henry, after having fully backed him since day one. That has to do with, still to be confirmed, upcoming foreign intervention in Haiti, with Kenya having offered to take the lead with the participation of 1,000 Police officers. Since then, scores of CARICOM countries, some Latin American, as well as European and African states have announced participation in the non-UN force which, nevertheless, was approved by a resolution of the UN Security Council. To be noted, 13 of the 15-member Council voted for it, while Russia and China, disposing of veto power, abstained, but didn’t block it. It’s said that their abstention was obtained because they received confirmation that the Prime Minister won’t benefit from that foreign intervention. In fact, both China and Russia had called earlier for UN sanctions against Ariel Henry.

As it is, an interim government, without Dr. Henry, should be installed, in which civil society will have a determining voice as to how an intervention force will help with the stability of the country on a long-term basis. It’s argued that a formula must be found to put an end to these UN direct or indirect foreign forces, which began arriving in Haiti, with the MICIVIH in 1993, the MINUSTAH in 2004, the MINUJUSTH in 2017 and the current BINUH since 2018. They all have failed in securing the stability of Haiti or in helping with the country’s justice system. In fact, the federation of gangs was established, in 2020, under the glare of BINUH. And the marauding gangs have been causing death and desolation in all sectors of society.

Why not remobilized the Haitian Armed Forces?

This brings to the fore the idea of remobilizing Haiti’s Armed Forces, the FAd’H, destroyed with the help of this same international community which gave carte blanche to President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to avenge himself when he was brought back from exile, on October 15, 1994, under the umbrella of more than 20,000 U.S. troops. On January 1995, unconstitutionally, Aristide dismissed the FAd’H, whereas he should have reformed the corps by getting rid of the bad oranges responsible for the September 27, 1991 coup d’état that forced him into exile. Instead, he threw out the whole basket. But after World War II, Hitler’s Nazi army was not destroyed, but reformed. Ditto for that of Mussolini in Italy.

Whatever can be said about the FAd’H, while it existed it had an intelligence service that covered the whole country, including all the cities and towns, as well as Haiti’s countryside, whatnot with the Rural Police and their auxiliaries, the “Soukèt Lawouze,” Creole for Dew shakers, who were up early in the morning in search of information about local matters. Thus, any untoward movement was quickly detected and reported to Army headquarters through the chain of command, and dealt with speedily. No gangs existed, except under the Duvalier dictatorship when they were officially established. I mean the Tontons Macoute gestapo-like individuals.

Since the FAd’H was disbanded, in January 1995, the Haitian National Police was established with the help of the international community. It hasn’t been able to secure the land. No Police is trained to deal with heavily-armed gangs. Only an Army can do that. Thus, a demoralized and atrophied PNH can’t stand up to the better equipped gangs now in control of about 90% of Port-au-Prince, the capital, according to the United Nations. Reinforcing the PNH won’t due the job, because it is fully infiltrated by gangs which, by the way, were first introduced in the country in 1995, by President Aristide, under the broad category of Chimères, that had their distinctive units, such as “Sleep in the Woods Army,” “Little Machetes Army,” “Red Army,” “Sadham Hussein Army,” even the “Cannibal Army,” and more.

These paved the way for the approximately 200 gangs operating in Haiti now, having gotten a big boost when the “Legal Bandit” Martelly, with the help of his former foreign minister-turned-Prime Minister Laurent Salvador Lamothe, armed them with Israeli-made weapons introduced to the country via Canada. That was to the stratagem used to bypass the United States which had declared an embargo on firearms to Haiti. But that has changed since, with almost all the weapons circulating in Haiti bearing the inscription “Made in America.” While the gangs are easily supplied with these weapons, the embargo on firearms to the embryonic Haitian army still exists. And the killing of civilians and of law enforcement officials has intensified.

When will the hypocrisy displayed by the international community towards Haiti cease? We suggest that the arrest of Badio, followed by the dismissal of Ariel Henry should be the first steps toward real change, which also would entail total war against corruption and impunity at all levels of government. Only able and honest governance in a democratized Haiti will allow for development of the land, as a program of decentralization is undertaken to minimize the importance of the Republic of Port-au-Prince, while the Republic of Haiti becomes a reality. I rest my case.

RAJ, at raljo31@yahoo.com

cet article est publié par l’hebdomadaire Haïti-Observateur, VOL. LIII, No.38 Édition spéciale Canada du 25 octobre 2023, et se trouve en P.1, 3, 4, 5 à  : special h-o 25 oct 2023

Haïti-Observateur / ISSN: 1043-3783