Haitian President; Jovenel Moïse was assassinated yesterday 7 July, 2021 around 1 a.m. by some unidentified assailants who spoke Spanish. His wife was fatally wounded during the armed attack in the early hours of Wednesday at their private residence above the hills of Port-au-Prince, plunging the Caribbean nation, already in the throes of a political crisis, into fresh uncertainty about its leadership.
First lady Martine Moïse was later on in the afternoon flown out of the country to Miami and taken to Jackson Health System’s Ryder Trauma Center where she is currently receiving medical attention.
Hours after the assassination, President Joe Biden condemned what he called a “heinous” act and offered U.S. assistance.
“We are shocked and saddened to hear of the horrific assassination of President Jovenel Moïse and the attack on First Lady Martine Moïse of Haiti,” Biden said in a statement. “We condemn this heinous act, and I am sending my sincere wishes for First Lady Moïse’s recovery.”
State Department spokesman Ned Price said at a briefing Wednesday afternoon that the U.S. is ready to offer the Haitian government any help with the investigation into the assassination.
We have been in regular contact with the acting prime minister, Claude Joseph. We are prepared to respond to requests for assistance,” Price said. “Our ambassador to Haiti, [Michele] Sison, has been in regular contact with a range of Haitian officials. She has spoken to the acting Director-General of the Haitian National Police.”
The U.S. Embassy in Haiti said it would close on Wednesday, citing an “ongoing” security situation.
The assassination was immediately condemned by some U.S. lawmakers and regional leaders, including President Luis Abinader of the Dominican Republic and Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne, who is the new chair of the 15-member Caribbean Community regional group known as CARICOM.
“We regret and condemn the assassination of the Haitian president, Jovenel Moïse, and the first lady, Martine Moïse,” Abinader said in a tweet. “This crime undermines the democratic order of Haiti and the region. Our condolences to his family and the Haitian people.”
The Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, activated a plan to close off its border with its neighbor and increase naval patrols on the waters near Haiti.
Dominican Foreign Minister Roberto Alvarez called on “all Haitians to come together and, based on the rule of law, work toward a peaceful solution to this traumatic ordeal.
“The international community must stand by Haiti’s side indefinitely and dedicate all efforts necessary to bring about a broad, concerted and sustained dialogue, involving all Haitian sectors, including its diaspora, leading to a social and political pact, as well as free, fair and transparent elections,” he told the Herald. “The Dominican government is ready to play its part in bringing about a stable, democratic and prosperous Haiti. It should be emphatically clear, however, that the Dominican Republic will never be the solution to Haiti’s misfortune.”
Browne noted that it was just Tuesday evening that leaders of CARICOM expressed concerns about Haiti, where a new wave of armed gang violence has forced the displacement of more than 16,000 Haitians from poor, working-class neighborhoods since June 1 and provoking a growing humanitarian crisis.
“It is regrettable that President Moïse fell prey to the violence and paid the ultimate price,” Browne said. “We hope that his assassination does not fuel heightened violence and instability, but it would serve as a sober reflection for the Haitian people to pursue a sustainable path to peace and prosperity.”
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres condemned the assassination in a statement Wednesday afternoon.
“The Secretary-General condemns in the strongest terms the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse of the Republic of Haiti. The perpetrators of this crime must be brought to justice,”’ the statement said. “The Secretary-General extends his deepest condolences to the people and Government of Haiti and the family of the late President.”
U.S. Rep. Andy Levin, the Michigan Democrat who co-chairs the House Haiti Caucus and is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, offered his condolences to Moïse’s family and said he was praying for the swift recovery of Martine Moïse following the “heinous act.”
He called on the Biden administration to pursue a new policy toward Haiti “that puts the will and well-being of the Haitian people first.”
“The murder of Jovenel Moïse is a devastating if not shocking example of the extent to which the security situation in Haiti has unraveled. For months, violent actors have terrorized the Haitian people with impunity while the international community — the United States included, I fear — has failed to heed their cries to change course and support a Haitian-led democratic transition,” Levin said.
The congressman added that Joseph’s “claim that the Haitian national police and armed forces have the country’s security in hand strikes one as absurd in the immediate aftermath of the brazen murder of the de facto president and just two days after Moïse had announced Joseph’s replacement as prime minister with no consultation or political support.”
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“It is essential to bringing about true peace and security and preventing more atrocities like that which occurred this morning,” Levin added.
Republican Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, a ranking member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called for a full investigation of the killing, and Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida urged the Biden administration to help in the local probe.
“I urge President Biden to direct the Department of State to support the Haitian National police and help bring the murderers to justice,” Rubio said. “We cannot allow this cowardly, evil attack to bring even more hardship to the people of Haiti and further destabilize their country.”
Acting Prime Minister Claude Joseph, who first told his fellow Haitians about the president’s assassination, said he is in charge and that the country is now under martial law.
He also sought to reassure the international community that he’s in control, meeting with their representatives in Port-au-Prince as the U.S. appealed for calm and Washington said it still hopes to see long-overdue elections held this year for parliament, local offices, and the presidency.