Geopolitical Insights


July 7, 2021

What has Happened:

President Moïse of Haiti was assassinated in an overnight attack on his private residence. The attack comes amid increased unrest and instability in an already struggling economic, political, and security environment in the country. President Moïse had recently made changes to the constitution that would consolidate power in his office. Haiti has faced significant political and economic issues in recent years solidifying the country’s position as the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Additionally, Haiti has had six prime ministers over the past four years. Generals Robeson, Walsh, Marks, and Chinn of Academy’s Geopolitical Intelligence Group discuss the possible implications of the assassination and the potential U.S. response.


Why it Matters:

“I do not see this as having any significant impact on Haiti’s potential for a mass migration exit. Historically, migration out of Haiti has been driven more by the perception of a welcoming location to migrate to rather than a desire to depart a politically dysfunctional Haiti (i.e., the early 1993 boat migration to the U.S. following Pres-elect Clinton’s comment on our welcoming those in need). The fact that President Moïse’s tenure (final year) as president was questioned, coupled with his refusal to leave office, further reduces the likelihood of mass migration.” – General Mastin Robeson

“I agree with General Robeson’s assessment. The instability is already within the Haitian government and the assassination of President Moïse only adds to its dysfunction. The situation must be watched but it would have to deteriorate significantly before a large migration to the U.S. becomes a serious option for Haitians. We can expect the Biden administration to continue to support the democratic and peaceful transition of power while watching closely how the chaotic situation unfolds. The biggest fear is that the already present political divisions increase, causing the further breakdown in law and order.”General Robert Walsh

“I agree with Mastin. The key “instability” issues with Haiti have always been its anemic economy, societal inequality, and proximity to the U.S. The assassination of the president does not fundamentally alter those factors. Haiti remains a hemispheric neighbor so we must pay attention. However, it legitimately is one of the craziest places I have ever deployed. I spent a good deal of time there in the mid 90’s. Remember, I was an intel guy and my troops and I had a very hard time understanding the human intelligence element in the country.” General Spider Marks

“I agree with everyone’s comments. Expect the security and armed forces to do their best to maintain law and order. If law and order cannot be maintained, expect the OAS (Organization of American States) to offer to send security forces to assist in providing stability so governance can be re-established with the goal of free and fair elections in the future. Haiti only had a police force while MINUSTAH was supporting Haiti as they recovered from the 2010 earthquake (mission ended in 2017 and was declared a success by the UN). In 2018, Haiti stood up an Army and asked the U.S. to help shape its security and defense forces from the ground up (which was viewed as a rejection of Chinese overtures). A major challenge has been that we provide professional education opportunities to civilian leaders from Haiti at the Perry Center with the hope that they return to Haiti making it more stable, but the political climate and corruption has hindered the ability to lead change.” General K.K. Chinn

Original Post 07/07/2021