US, UN Delegations Run For Safety As Gunshots Breakout At Haitian President Funeral (Photos)
The funeral for the assassinated Haitian president Jovenel Moise was marred by gunfire from protesters today after they chanted ‘Justice! Justice!’ amid the unrest sparked by the killing two weeks ago.
The US delegation were forced to flee as shots rang out around the former president’s family home with the violent scenes that have rocked the Caribbean island for the past two weeks spilling into the ceremony today.
Widow Martine arrived to cries of ‘Justice! Justice!’ as she headed straight to her husband’s casket, climbing the stairs and stopping in front of it. Her right arm in a sling, she lay her left arm on the casket and then brought it to her heart as she stood there in silence. Her eyes filled with tears as her three children joined her.
Minutes later, a group of supporters grabbed a large portrait of Moïse and paraded with it as the police band began to play the national anthem over loud wails.
Earlier, 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!’
Newly appointed Prime Minister Ariel Henry arrived after to cries of, ‘Justice for Jovenel!’
Moise was gunned down in his home in Port-au-Prince before dawn on July 7, setting off a new political crisis in the Caribbean country that has struggled with poverty, lawlessness and instability.
Protests by angry supporters of Moise convulsed the slain leader’s hometown, the northern city of Cap-Haitien, for a second successive day on Thursday as workers prepared for the funeral.
The protesters set tires on fire to block roads, while workers paved a brick road to Moise’s mausoleum on a dusty plot of several acres enclosed by high walls.
Set on land held by Moise’s family and where he lived as a boy, the partly built tomb stood in the shade of fruit trees, just a few steps from a mausoleum for Moise’s father, who died last year. Police controlled access to the compound through a single gate.
The assassination was a reminder of the ongoing influence foreign actors have in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere despite it becoming Latin America and the Caribbean’s first independent state at the start of the 19th century.
The attack was carried out by a group that included 26 Colombian former soldiers, at least six of whom had previously received U.S. military training. Haitian-Americans were also among the accused.
The attack’s plotters disguised the mercenaries as U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents, a ruse that helped them enter Moise’s home with no resistance from his security detail, authorities have said. At least one of the arrested men, a Haitian-American, had previously worked as an informant for the DEA.