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What to know about Charles ‘Kiko’ Saint-Rémy, a key figure in Haiti’s powerful circles


Haitian President Jovenel Moise kept a list of politicians and business people allegedly involved in Haiti’s drug trade, with plans to turn it over to the United States government, the New York Times recently reported. A central figure on the list is businessman Charles Saint-Rémy, former president Michel Martelly’s brother-in-law. 

While it is unclear what role, if any, Saint-Rémy played in the president’s assassination, interviews reveal he has crossed paths with so many in Haiti’s already small political, business and social circles over the years. Here’s a brief list of key things to know about Saint-Rémy. 

Roots in Gonaives and Port-au-Prince

Charles was raised in Gonaives, according to Le Nouvelliste. His parents are Charles Edouard Saint-Rémy and Mona Lisa Florez. It is unclear how much time Charles spent in Gonaives during his youth.

A Facebook profile for Charles Saint-Rémy shows that he currently lives in Port-au-Prince and attended College Canado-Haitien, a Catholic high school in the capital. 

Comes from a well-connected family

One of Saint-Rémy’s sisters, Sophia, is the wife of Martelly since 1987. Martelly led Haiti from 2011 to 2016 and handpicked Jovenel Moise, his protégé, as his successor following a one-year transition period. Saint-Rémy served as an unofficial adviser to Martelly during his time in office. 

Another sister, Claudia, is married to Gesner Champagne. Champagne is the former public relations director of Preble-Rish, a Port-au-Prince-based civil engineering firm. He is reportedly a close friend of Martelly. 

Exerted influence in Martelly administration

Saint-Rémy frequently demanded choice licenses and contracts, particularly in the export industry. In 2015, Haitian government sources said, he physically attacked Fresner Dorcin, then the agriculture minister, for issuing a contract without his consent, according to Le Nouvelliste. 

Involved in restaurants, export business

Known by the nickname “Kiko,” Saint-Rémy once ran an upscale French restaurant called La Souvenance in Pétionville that was a favorite of Martelly’s. He is involved in the export of eel for consumption, mostly to China, the New York Times reported this month. 

Known ties to the drug trade

Media reports dating back to 2015 indicate that Saint-Rémy has admitted to past involvement in drug trafficking and, the New York Times reported, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has long suspected Saint-Rémy of involvement in the drug trade. Saint-Rémy now says his business ventures, including the export of eel, are legitimate. 

Sources: 

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/12/world/americas/jovenel-moise-haiti-president-drug-traffickers.html?smid=tw-share

https://lenouvelliste.com/article/147039/agression-contre-le-ministre-de-lagriculture-par-le-beau-frere-du-president-des-sources-confirment

https://m.facebook.com/people/Charles-Saint-Remy/100008130104769

https://cepr.shorthandstories.com/haiti-contractors/index.html#group-The-Plane-KJA1z3pB98

https://web.archive.org/web/20181116152423/https://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/his-music-rules-in-haiti-6360759

http://www.haitiobserver.com/blog/kiko-saint-remy-brother-of-first-lady-sophia-saint-remy-mart.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/17/world/americas/haitian-president-tightens-grip-as-scandal-engulfs-circle-of-friends.html

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