The wounded widow of Haiti’s president has recalled the moment gunmen killed her husband last Wednesday. President Jovenel Moise was shot and killed after a group of people believed to be foreign mercenaries attacked his private residence in the capital Port-au-Prince on July 7. First Lady Martine Moise was shot in the attack and was sent to a hospital in Miami for treatment.
On Saturday, she released an audio message on her personal Twitter account describing what happened during the attack. “I’m alive by god’s grace, but I lost my husband Jovenel,” the first lady said in the recording, adding that the attack happened so quickly.
“In the blink of an eye, the mercenaries entered my house and riddled my husband with bullets,” she said. “This act has no name because you have to be a limitless criminal to assassinate a president like Jovenel Moise, without even giving him the chance to say a single word.”
She said she believes her husband was targeted due to political reasons including a referendum on changes to the country’s constitution that would have given the president more power. She said the attackers “want to assassinate the president’s dream”.
“I am crying, it is true, but we cannot let the country lose its way,” she said. “We cannot let the blood of President Jovenel Moise, my husband, our president whom we love so much and who loved us in return, flow in vain.”
Since January 13, 2020, Moise has, despite protests and corruption claims, been ruling by decree, after the country failed to hold legislative elections for both lower and upper houses of the bicameral legislature in October of 2019. In 2017 when he was sworn in as president of Haiti, the country was already in turmoil. Becoming a leader, Moise promised to fight corruption, strengthen institutions and bring more jobs and investments to the country while calling for unity. But that did not materialize as protests against his administration erupted not too long after he took office.
Last week, authorities arrested 26 Colombians and two people believed to hold dual U.S.-Haitian citizenship after they were accused of taking part in the assassination of Moise. Authorities said they tracked the suspected killers on Wednesday to a house near the scene of the crime in Petionville, a northern, hillside suburb of the capital, Port-au-Prince, Guardian reported. There, they arrested a number of suspects after a firefight. The police said a manhunt is underway for at least eight more suspects.
On Sunday, Haitian National Police Chief Léon Charles announced that a 63-year-old doctor based in Florida, who is believed to be a key suspect, has been arrested. Christian Emmanuel Sanon, a Haitian national, flew into the country on a private jet in early June with “political motives”, police chief Charles said at a police briefing late on Sunday in the capital Port-au-Prince.
Charles said Sanon used a security firm to recruit some of the men involved in the assassination. Sanon allegedly told the men they would work as his bodyguards. Charles said the initial plan was to arrest President Moise, but “the mission then changed”. Sanon was to assume the presidency after the death of Moise.
Items found at his house after the arrest included gun parts, 20 boxes of bullets, a hat with the logo of the US Drug Enforcement Administration, two cars, four automobile license plates from the Dominican Republic, and correspondence with unidentified people, according to the Independent.
In what is now the African diaspora’s oldest country, Haiti has been in political crisis, with protesters demanding new democratic elections and the resignation of Moise following years of corruption allegations. For about half a century, the Caribbean nation has struggled to overcome the problems of poverty and inequality. It is a country that has also seen the worst brutal dictatorships in the hands of the Duvalier family. The country has also suffered both natural and Western-ensured tragedies.
In recent times, there have been reports of violence in the capital Port-au-Prince that has claimed the lives of many people. The situation has left Haiti’s economy in shambles. It’s going to be a difficult road ahead for the Caribbean nation as the assassination of its president seems to have caused more tension in an already troubled nation, experts say. Government officials have requested the U.S. and the UN for military assistance. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday that senior FBI and Department of Homeland Security officials would be visiting Haiti to help with the investigation into the assassination.
Currently, there are several people aiming to be Haiti’s leader, including Claude Joseph, the acting prime minister, and neurosurgeon Ariel Henry, who was appointed prime minister by Moise before his assassination. On Friday, members of Haiti’s senate, which is not really functioning, voted and made its leader, Joseph Lambert, the acting president of Haiti.