Tragedy befell Haiti as their president was assassinated at his private residence on Tuesday-Wednesday night. The horrific incident shocked the whole nation, including politicians, security personnel, government officials, and the world. The first lady who was also at the residence got injured and was hospitalized after being grazed by fired shots from the assassins. Puzzled by this merciless act, agencies from the police, security, and military services were left wondering how the assassins got access to the residence and managed to evade the security protocols put in place.
Jovenel Moise, who was 53 at the time of his death, gained popularity in Haiti as an entrepreneur majoring in exporting bananas. He grew up on a sugar plantation in the rural areas where his love for crops and farming was unearthed. Moise’s father was a good farmer who amassed most of his wealth from farming activities, and he had turned his farming skills into a viable business that gave him enough income to feed the family. Moise drew inspiration from his father’s success, so he also ventured into being ‘his boss’ by exporting bananas for a living. With such strong motivation and inspiration, he established a large corporation in the farming sector, which employed around 3 000 farmers. He believed that “agriculture” was the key to developing his country. Due to a rural background, Moise found it easy to relate with Haitians who live on the offshores of urban cities [Source]. He attended school in the Capital of Haiti. After completing his studies, he married his former classmate Martine Marie Etienne Joseph, and they both left the Capital to go to rural areas in Port-de-Paix, where they planned on developing the remote place.
A cloud of success followed him. He witnessed the growth of his business as he launched a company called JOMAR Auto Parts, extended his organic banana plantation to over 10 hectares, and was nicknamed “Neg Bannann,” meaning ‘Banana Man.’ Former Haiti president Michel Martelly named him as the presidential candidate for the center-right Haitian Tet Kale Party, a political party founded by Martelly. Jovenel Moise won the 2016 elections, which were highly contested by four other candidates who challenged his victory, but the official announcement of the results showed Moise as the victor [Source].
In the early hours of Wednesday, it is believed that assassins invaded the president’s residence and fired shots, killing him on the spot and injuring his wife. Bocchi Edmond, the Haitian ambassador to Washington, suggested that the US Drug Enforcement Administration members killed Moise. His conclusions are drawn from a video circulating on social media. Men with an American accent claiming to be DEA agents are seen entering the residence and telling everyone to “stand down.” Residents reported hearing gunshots and seeing men dressed in black running away through the neighborhood. The ambassador also noted that the men might be mercenaries since the video footage also depicts some Spanish speaking [Source]. He approached the White House for assistance, and US president Biden’s response cited that they are waiting for more information about the incident, and he sent his condolences to Haitians.
In a narration of this tragedy by government officials, it is believed that around one o’clock in the night, a group of unidentified men, which included Spanish-speaking man attacked the private residence. Moise’s three kids were safe, but his wife Martine got injured and was taken to a hospital in Miami. A gunfight quickly broke out between the police and suspected killers trying to escape, and the police forces shot dead four suspects. Two of the attackers were detained and are expected to be interrogated for further information about the attack. The gunmen released three police officers they had held hostage while undertaking their heinous act. One of the major opposition parties’ leaders, Pierre Reginald Boulos, condemned the assassination. When questioned about who might have killed Moise, he uttered that, “Everybody’s name has been floated, including my own” [Source].
Moise’s assassination comes when the country is going through political instability and unrest among the citizens. The reign of Moise was brushed with a lot of controversial political moves like the 2020 decision to postpone legislative elections and his efforts to amend the constitution so that it could allow him to run for a second term. In February this year, he refused to step down as his term had ended, and this sparked nationwide protests where people demanded his resignation. His government was once accused of being involved in criminal gangs activities in Haiti, where a lot of people were being robbed, oppressed, and massacred. Before his death, Moise appointed a new prime minister Ariel Henry, but he was yet to take office. The interim president Prime Minister Claude Joseph, has assumed the high throne amid heated discussions on who should be Moise’s successor [Source].
Moise’s policies and political decisions seem to have made him an unpopular figure among some politicians, and the opposition leaders were chanting for his removal from the throne. A coup was once rumored in Haiti as tension rose after Moise was accused of being a power grabber, and he ordered three Supreme Court judges alleged to be involved in the coup to retire. With Martine currently battling for her life in hospital, empathy calls for everyone to sympathize due to her loss and the shocking end of Moise’s reign in Haiti. This occurrence might be a more-load burden on a struggling Caribbean nation that is more likely to plunge into succession disputes among the current political leaders. Whether a power grabber, dictator or not, Moise’s exit is inhumane, and condolences messages have been pouring in from all world leaders, including the United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who lamented on this sad event.
Interim Prime Minister Joseph declared a “state of siege” and noted that the country’s police forces would collaborate with the military in investigating this matter, and he will oversee the progress.