Haitian President Assassinated at His Home, Killers Caught or Captured
The world awoke to shocking news on Wednesday, as reports out of Haiti confirmed the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise at his private residence by armed gunmen. The assassination seems to be the culmination of months of growing unrest in the Caribbean country marred by poverty and instability, where many have grown to see Mr. Moise as an aspiring autocrat.
The somber emotions of numerous government officials were plain to see as Haitian Prime Minister Claude Joseph addressed his nation following the assassination of now former President Jovenel Moise. Mr. Joseph urged calm in the country and told his fellow Haitians that the situation is now “under control”, according to Reuters. The organized armed attack on Mr. Moise’s private residence in the capital of Port-au-Prince occurred around 1 AM local time, when multiple gunmen, apparently disguised as Drug Enforcement Administration agents from the United States, stormed the complex of the former President and forced entry inside his home. Mr. Moise’s wife, Martine, was also shot in the attack and is said to be in critical condition in a hospital in Miami. In the aftermath of the shooting, most of the country, including the capital, was placed on lockdown and the airport was closed to all flights. On Wednesday evening it was announced by the Haitian government, that a military operation had taken place in the capital resulting in the death of four of the assassins and the further arrest of two more, according to the AFP.
Although further information about the identities of the murder suspects has yet to be released by the state, it is widely thought to be members of one of many gangs operating in the highly unstable nation. As Haiti lacks both the financial and operational strength to combat rising gang violence in the country, many security experts feared a further breakdown in security in the country, although a move as brazen as this assassination was still shocking to many. This gang violence combined with government ineffectiveness and growing unpopularity of the Moise regime created a power vacuum in the country, in which gangs and mercenary groups could thrive. Due to suspended legislative elections, Mr. Moise had been ruling by decree for over a year. According to the Haitian Constitution, Prime Minister Joseph will now take over leadership of the country until the next planned legislative elections in September.
The nation of Haiti has long been seen as a failed state. It is not only the poorest nation in the Americas, but also has the lowest Human Development Index of any nation in the Americas (Haiti’s HDI is actually tied with Sudan for the 19th lowest in the world, out of 189 countries measured by the UN, scoring lower than war-torn nations such as Afghanistan and Syria). The country’s prospects for improvement declined dramatically after a catastrophic earthquake struck the nation in 2010, causing widespread death and destruction and the country has still failed to fully recover from this natural disaster. The assassination of the country’s President is just the latest in a long list of problems afflicting the impoverished nation.
In response to the shooting, Haiti’s neighboring country of the Dominican Republic closed its borders with Haiti and US President Joe Biden labeled the killing as “heinous” and the overall situation in Haiti as “worrisome”. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called Prime Minister Joseph directly and offered American aid in the investigation of the murder and expressed his support for the establishment of democratic governance in the country. The murder of former President Moise is the second killing of a head of state this year, joining former President of Chad Idriss Déby, who was killed during a military operation against insurgents in April.