Two heavyweight politicians long suspected of involvement in assassinations and drug-trafficking have had their visas pulled and assets frozen by the United States and Canada. These are senators Joseph Lambert and Youri Latortue. The countries levied the same sanctions on Assad Volcy, long reputed as involved in kidnappings, and on Lambert’s wife.
The State Department said the two senators “have abused their official positions to traffic drugs and collaborated with criminal and gang networks to undermine the rule of law in Haiti.”
The Haiti Democracy Project has had its run-ins with both senators.
- In 2005, our ambassadors’ mission to Haiti consulted with Prime Minister Gérard Latortue and advised him against political association with Youri Latortue. The latter happened to be at the table to hear this and two days later property owned by the family of one of the Haitian delegates was vandalized.
- In 2009 Senator Lambert helped organize and voted for the expulsion of Haiti Democracy Project founder Sen. Rudolph Boulos from the Haitian senate. Senator Boulos was in the third year of his six-year term representing the Nord-Est province. The pretext was his past American citizenship, but the real reason was his opposition to amending the constitution to allow President Préval to stay in power. Senator Boulos had to flee for his life and could not return to Haiti until Préval left office.
- In 2013 the Haiti Democracy Project republlshed a report by the National Network for the Defense of Human Rights in which a young assassin professedly working for Senator Lambert confessed to the murders of two French citizens and various Haitian politicians.
- In 2017 Senator Lambert informally requested an invitation from the Haiti Democracy Project to join a delegation of senators we were organizing, a request we declined.
The sanctions are step in the right direction of cleaning the Augean stable of Haitian politics, an unpleasant but essential task if the economy is to be revived and Haiti’s poor freed from fear of famine and disease.