Jean Morose Viliena
Jean Morose Viliena (b. 1972) worked as a grade school principal before he was elected mayor of Les Irois in 2006, as a candidate of the Mouvement démocratique et rénovateur d’Haïti (MODEREH) party.
Viliena won the election with the backing of KOREGA, a powerful political machine that dominates local politics throughout the Grand-Anse Department (the region covering the southwestern coast of Haiti, including Les Irois). KOREGA stands for the Committee for Resistance in Grande-Anse, or in Creole, Komite Reziztans Grand-Anse. KOREGA is a regional political machine that backs chosen candidates in cities across Grand-Anse as part of a patronage system. Over the past several years, KOREGA has established a network of local branches capable of arming and mobilizing groups of KOREGA members, such as the KOREGA militia in Les Irois. Through these armed groups, KOREGA applies strong-arm tactics and political muscle to influence elections, interfere with investigations and prosecutions, silence critics, and suppress political opposition in cities and towns across Grand-Anse. In return for their loyalty, KOREGA provides its members with jobs and control of local institutions, such as hospitals and government posts. KOREGA has, in recent years, aligned itself with President Martelly’s party.
During and after the 2006 elections, KOREGA’s chief political rival in the region has been the Struggling People’s Party (Organisation du Peuple en Lutte). Once in power as mayor, Viliena became the head of the Les Irois branch of KOREGA and exercised control over the KOREGA militia’s operations in Les Irois, using violence to accomplish his political ends.
Between 2007 and 2009, Viliena personally led an armed group of KOREGA supporters in a series of violent attacks directed against Viliena’s critics and perceived political opponents in Les Irois, including CJA’s clients David Boniface, Nissage Martyr, and Juders Ysemé. Viliena armed and directed the KOREGA militia to: kill the younger brother of David Boniface, in retaliation for Boniface’s criticism of the mayor’s misconduct; shoot Martyr and Ysemé during a raid on a radio station; and engage in an arson rampage that destroyed 36 homes of perceived Struggling People’s Party supporters in Les Irois, rendering at least 40 families and 300 individuals in Les Irois homeless.
Viliena fled to the Boston area in January 2009, after Haitian authorities opened a murder inquest against him. In 2010, Viliena and nineteen of his associates were indicted for their roles in the attacks against our clients. The indictment stated that defendants who had fled the jurisdiction, such as Viliena, would be tried in absentia. However, Viliena has yet to face prosecution in Haiti. Despite the open indictment against him, Viliena has continued to travel between the United States and Haiti with impunity, and he and his associates continue to threaten our clients and other residents of Les Irois.
Although Viliena’s elected term of office expired in February 2010, municipal elections were repeatedly postponed following the 2010 earthquake. In August 2012, Haitian President Michel Martelly appointed Viliena to serve as the “Interim Executive Agent” of Les Irois, exercising the functions of Mayor, despite the open criminal indictment against Viliena, his continued residence in Massachusetts, and Haiti’s constitutional requirement that mayors be elected to office.