On Wednesday, June 21, a United States District Court in Miami sentenced Guy Philippe to nine years in prison for accepting bribes to protect cocaine smugglers. Philippe pleaded guilty to a drug-related, money-laundering conspiracy charge in late April. Related protests may occur in Haiti to denounce his sentencing, particularly in Port-au-Prince, Les Cayes, and Jérémie.
Philippe was arrested in Port-au-Prince on January 5 after taking part in a radio interview and turned over to the US Drug Enforcement Agency. Despite being wanted on international drug trafficking charges, Philippe was elected to the Senate as a representative of Grand’Anse department in the November 20, 2016, general elections. The arrest, which came just a few days before he was set to take office, has been labeled a “kidnapping” by some in the country and provoked unrest in Grand’Anse, including assaults against at least two US nationals, clashes between rival political groups, and attacks against police stations and vehicles.
Individuals in Haiti are advised to monitor the situation and to strictly avoid all protests and rallies due to the high likelihood of violence. It is also advisable to avoid discussing sensitive political topics, to keep abreast of the sociopolitical climate via media reporting, and to adhere to advice and instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments.