Haiti Says Farewell To Its Slain President
Haiti said farewell Friday to its slain president under tight security, just over two weeks after his assassination rattled a country mired in poverty, corruption and political instability.
Jovenel Moise, who was 53 when he was shot dead in his home in the early hours of July 7, was interred in Cap-Haitien, the main city in his native northern region.
In an open-air funeral lasting several hours, Moise’s coffin was draped in the red, white and blue Haitian flag and the presidential sash, and surrounded by flowers. Military guards kept watch, and soldiers performed the national and presidential anthems.
One by one, representatives of the government and foreign diplomats stopped to pay their respects to Moise’s widow Martine — who was seriously wounded in the attack that killed her husband, and required treatment in the United States.
Moise had her arm in a sling and wore a black hat and a mask bearing a photo of her late husband.
In a eulogy, the widow paid tribute to Moise, noting he had had a successful career in business before getting into politics and being “savagely murdered.”
“What crime did you commit to deserve such punishment?” Moise asked. She called Haitian politics “rotten and unfair” and said her husband had tried to clean it up.
“Overnight, he found the whole system lined up against him,” the widow said. She insisted, however, she did not want “revenge or violence.”
Despite her praise, the late president was not a popular man in Haiti. Many people accused him of failing to make progress on the country’s many woes and of taking on an authoritarian bent after he suspended parliament last year.
US President Joe Biden sent a high-level delegation to the funeral, including his ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, and his new special envoy to Haiti, Daniel Foote.
So far, more than 20 people have been arrested in connection with the assassination, most of them Colombians, and police say the plot was organized by Haitians with political ambitions and links outside the country.
But the case remains murky, with many unanswered questions, such as how no members of the presidential security detail were wounded in the brazen assault.
Haitians have expressed shock that those tasked with protecting the president and his home failed him so abjectly.
The impoverished Caribbean nation is riddled with crime and powerful gangs — problems that were exacerbated during Moise’s presidency
City on Edge
Earlier this week, clashes broke out in Cap-Haitien when police chief Leon Charles visited ahead of the ceremony. He was booed and heckled while inspecting security arrangements for the funeral.
Local residents blame the police chief for not protecting Moise, whose death has rekindled long-standing tensions between the north of Haiti and the west.
Those issues stem in part from historic racial divisions dating back to French colonialism between northern blacks who are descendants of slaves and lighter-skinned Haitians of mixed race living in the south and west.
Praying for Justice
Memorial ceremonies in honor of Moise have been held this week in Port-au-Prince as well.
Attending one of them was new Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who was sworn in Tuesday and vowed to restore order and organize long-delayed elections sought by Haitians and the international community.
Foote, the new US envoy, has been tasked with helping to usher along the organization of elections.
Haiti currently has no working parliament and only a handful of elected senators. The interim government installed this week has no president.
Washington has said elections should be held later this year.
Moise had ruled Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas, by decree after legislative elections due in 2018 were delayed in following multiple disputes.
As well as presidential, legislative and local elections, Haiti had been due to have a constitutional referendum in September after it was twice postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.