By Kim Ives, Haiti Liberté, August 30, 2023
On August 29, 2023, Haiti Liberté, working in conjunction with the major YouTube channel Redacted, travelled to Les Cayes to interview Government Commissioner Jean Ernest Muscadin, whose forceful and effective response to violent crime in the "Grand Sud" has captured the attention and approval of Haiti and its diaspora.
His vision of his profession is summed up by a sign on the door of his office in Mirogoâne: "A Government Commissioner is a military man in civilian clothes".
Commissaire Muscadin was reluctant to sit down for an interview because he has been criticized by numerous media outlets who pretend to agree with his tactics and policies, but then slander him after sitting down with him.
Throughout our trip to Muscadin's hometown of Cayes, the people we met expressed nothing but praise and admiration for him. "We're not going to let another town take him away from us," said "Raoul", head of security at the Mirogoâne courthouse. "He was sent to us by Jesus".
Muscadin is very aware of the hopes and expectations placed in him and spoke to us for about an hour about the challenges he faces. We don't have time to transcribe everything he said, which will be done shortly, but here are a few highlights.
Jean Ernest Muscadin
"Today, we have a safe and secure department," he explained at one point during the interview. "Our work has had an impact on the entire Grand Sud. Gangs can't enter our region or set up shop here. We've put up defenses and barriers in all the different towns entering the Deep South, so that the whole rest of the South is safe. This way, criminals can't invade us and people can live and come to the Department where they can live in peace and enjoy their lives as they should".
He also said that the vast majority of criminals he and the police under his command capture are brought to justice.
"We arrest a lot of individuals who commit minor offenses - petty theft, housebreaking, etc. - and they are brought to justice, tried and, if found guilty, serve their sentences," he explained. "But the armed criminals who kidnap and kill priests, journalists, pastors, hougans [male Vodou priest], doctors, lawyers, who kill the majority of people from the diaspora visiting their families, if we catch them, we treat them in the same way. Because if they caught me, they'd execute me".
He also had particular contempt for human rights groups, such as the Réseau National de Défense des Droits de l'Homme (RNDDH), which claims Muscadin is a gang leader and that he worked for former Haitian president Michel Martelly and with the G9 Revolutionary Forces.
"Criminals who kill and terrorize people, when these offenders are captured or killed, human rights groups defend them, without questioning the lives of the people who are their victims," Muscadin said. "They don't talk about that. Are they honest and serious people, that's a question to ask?"
In the coming weeks we will present a longer report of our discussion with Miragoâne Government Commissioner Jean Ernest Muscadin.
Translated by CHIP editors
Posted Sept. 2, 2023