Gunshots fired outside funeral for slain Haitian president

CARIBBEAN News - Mikey Finch


Canada’s Ambassador to the UN Bob Rae joined Power & Politics to discuss the tense funeral for slain Haitian President Jovenel Moïse that was disrupted by protesters and the sound of nearby gunshots. ‘It was a highly charged event.’ according to Reuters.

The funeral for slain Haitian President Jovenel Moïse was briefly interrupted Friday by nearby gunfire and tear gas as well as agitated supporters that caused U.S. and U.N. officials to leave before his widow spoke publicly for the first time since the attack.

Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the private compound where Moïse’s funeral was held as some mourners inside shouted, “Justice for Jovenel!” and cheered when Martine Moïse, who was seriously injured in the July 7 attack at the couple’s private home, rose to the podium at the end of the ceremony.

“They’re watching us, waiting for us to be afraid,” she said. “We don’t want vengeance or violence. We’re not going to be scared.”

Smoke and ash from burning barricades that demonstrators set up around the compound, along with tear gas fired by police, blew through the ceremony as Martine Moïse and others spoke.

Her soft voice grew stronger through the 15-minute speech as she thanked the crowd for their support and said those responsible would not assassinate Jovenel Moïse’s vision, ideas or dreams for Haiti.

“We lost a fight, but we did not lose the war,” she said as she condemned the country’s oligarchs and suggested that Moïse was killed in his pursuit to provide electricity, build roads and make a better life for poor people. She later addressed his killers: “They are here looking at us. They are not even hiding.”

The funeral was held amid heavy security following violent protests and fears of political volatility in the Caribbean nation.

Before the funeral began, cries of “Assassin!” filled the air at the arrival of Haiti’s National Police Chief León Charles. Haitians clad in somber suits, shiny shoes and black and white formal dresses shouted and pointed fingers at the neighboring seating platforms where Haitian officials and foreign dignitaries sat above at least a dozen men with high-powered weapons.

“You didn’t take any measures to save Jovenel! You contributed to his killing!” one woman yelled.

On the grounds below, one Moïse supporter threatened Charles: “You need to leave now or we’re going to get you after the funeral!”

Yves Paul Leandre, spokesman for Haiti’s Communications Ministry, told the Associated Press that the U.S. and United Nations delegations left about 10 to 15 minutes after arriving due to hostile words that Moïse supporters inside the compound hurled at everyone arriving.

Two U.S. officials confirmed there was an incident at the event and that the U.S. delegation left early. All members of the U.S. delegation were safe and accounted for and it does not appear they were targeted, according to the officials, who were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.