The assassination of the Haitian president sheds light on the world of Colombian mercenaries


The recent assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse has drawn attention to the troubled world of mercenaries, especially those in Colombia.

Haitian authorities say 26 Colombian mercenaries were involved in the murder of Moses on July 7, with 18 arrested, three killed after the assassination and five still at large. Most, if not all, of the mercenaries were former members of the Colombian army, the Los Angeles Times reports.

During the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States began to outsource more tasks to military contractors, which apparently led to an increase in the number of mercenaries around the world. “Now that the United States is no longer the big daddy of sugar, the market has really diversified,” said Sean McFate, author of The New Rules of War, said to Time. “We see mercenaries everywhere.”

They mainly fall into three categories, McFate said: English speakers, Russian speakers and Spanish speakers, most of them from Colombia. Trained in counterinsurgency warfare, many retired soldiers go abroad, McFate added, with the United Arab Emirates hiring them to serve as internal security or to fight in places like Yemen; the UAE has never admitted to hiring mercenaries.

Carlos Calatrava, military expert at the Andrés Bello Catholic University in Caracas, told the Time that the Colombian soldiers “have excellent training, excellent discipline, and… have had combat experience. There are always groups looking for well-trained people for protection and security work. They are also willing to pay well – it has been reported that the Colombians who were said to have been part of the assassination of Moses received six times what they earned with their military pensions.

Many relatives of the Colombian suspects said they did not believe their sons, husbands and brothers were mercenaries and would never have participated in the assassination. Jenny Capador Giraldo’s brother Dubernay Capador Giraldo, 40, was a retired first sergeant killed after the assassination. She told the newspaper time “he was not a mercenary” but rather “a good man”, and she will not rest until his name is cleared.


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