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Rep. Waters Statement on the Attempted Assassination of Joel Edouard ‘Pacha’ Vorbe in Haiti

March 30, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43), the Chair of the House Financial Services Committee and a long-time friend of Haiti, issued the following statement today upon learning of the attempted assassination this morning of Joel Edouard “Pacha” Vorbe, a member of the Executive Committee of the Fanmi Lavalas political party and an associate of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide:

 

“I am shocked and appalled to learn of the attempted assassination of Joel Edouard ‘Pacha’ Vorbe in Haiti.  I have been informed that violent assassins broke into his house this morning, searched the house, and harassed the people who were there. When they failed to find Pacha in the house, they announced that they had saved two bullets for him.  I condemn this outrageous attack, and I call upon the Government of Haiti to fully investigate this incident and prosecute those responsible.

 

“Pacha Vorbe is a member of the Executive Committee of the Fanmi Lavalas political party and an associate of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.  He is also a successful businessman, a quadriplegic, and a passionate advocate for disadvantaged people and people with disabilities in Haiti.  It is deeply disturbing that would-be assassins would use the cover of the global coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity to threaten the life of this widely respected community leader.

 

“As a longtime friend of Haiti, I have been deeply concerned about the escalation in politically motivated violence over the past two years.  In April 2019, I led a delegation to Haiti, which met with residents of Lasalin and surrounding areas, who described acts of unconscionable violence that occurred the previous November.  Survivors expressed concern that government-connected gangs, working with police officers, carried out the attacks to punish the neighborhood for participation in anti-government protests.  In the months since my trip to Haiti, credible investigations of the Lasalin massacre by Haiti’s National Human Rights Defense Network (RNDDH),[1] the United Nations (UN) Mission for Justice Support in Haiti together with the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR),[2] and Haiti’s national directorate of judicial police[3] have all consistently pointed to politically motivated violence. Yet the alleged perpetrators have never been brought to justice. 

 

"I warned last April that impunity for the Lasalin massacre would encourage more violence, and unfortunately, I was right.  A politically motivated attack in the Bel-Air neighborhood killed at least 15 people, November 4-8, 2019, and it may have been carried out by the very same gang leaders implicated in the Lasalin massacre.[4]  Furthermore, OHCHR verified that Haitian security forces were responsible for at least 19 killings between September 15 and November 1,[5] and Amnesty International reported that Haitian police repeatedly used excessive force during anti-government protests in late 2019, including unlawfully firing live ammunition at protesters and indiscriminately launching tear gas.[6] 

 

“Today’s attempted assassination of Pacha Vorbe reminds us that impunity for brutality against innocent civilians enables and perpetuates politically motivated violence.  Those responsible for the attempted assassination of Pacha Vorbe must be held accountable.  Anyfurther threats against Pacha Vorbe or his family cannot be tolerated by the international community or the people of Haiti.”

 

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