Garry Pierre-Pierre, an editor of the Haitian Times newspaper, was awakened in the middle of the night recently. One of his reporters in Haiti said President Jovenel Moïse has been assassinated.
“It took me a while to process that information because I didn’t see that coming,” he said. “We know that Haiti is a volatile place, but we haven’t assassinated a president since 1915.”
Since then, The Haitian Times, based in Miami, has been working around the clock trying to give Haitian Americans the coverage he feels is deserved from this story.
Pierre-Pierre made this comment during a webinar organized by FIU’s Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center.
Various Haitian community leaders in journalism and academia reflected on the recent events in Haiti and their effects on the future.
The speakers included Constantin Chèry, an independent Journalist and assistant principal of Miami-Dade Public Schools; Nadéve Ménard, a professor of literature at the State University of Haiti; Chantelle Verna, an associate professor of history and international relations at FIU, and the Haitian Times’ Pierre-Pierre.
“With the presidential assassination, I cannot say it was something I was expecting, but at the same time, it’s not completely shocking if you put it into the context of what’s been happening in Haiti for the past few months and years,” said Ménard.
She added that there have been many events that she has seen, such as gangs fully armed in the streets without police reacting and a wave of kidnappings and murders. She feels the assassination is the culmination of all of that.
According to Ménard, many organizations have reported that the situation was out of control, but they were not heard as widely as they should have been.
“I agree it didn’t happen overnight,” said Chéry. “We saw something coming, but we would never believe that it would come to a point where a sitting president in his private residence with layers of security will have people assassinate [him] and attempt to murder his wife.”
He added that Haitian people are resilient and will survive this, because it happened centuries ago and is, unfortunately, part of Haiti’s history.
Chéry’s statements were echoed by Kendra Morancy, an FIU PhD candidate of Haitian descent studying International Relations and African Diaspora Studies.
Change in Haiti will only be enacted by the people, not the government, Morancy added.
“There is this lack of trust between the people and the government because of its history of corruption and aligning with whatever Western institution supplies them with funds,” said Morancy.
Moïse was unpopular amongst the people, she added. But the average Haitian person didn’t want him to be killed. “They do not want chaos and we do them a disservice by spreading this rhetoric,” she said.
Tamanisha John, another FIU International Relations PhD student, predicted that Moïse’s assassination will strengthen police and gang violence on the island. There may be more killings, arrests and burnings of entire communities. But Western countries should leave Haiti alone.
“Haitian protestors have constantly shared images like: ‘GET OUT OF HAITI’ and ‘NO MORE FOREIGN MEDDLING’— while burning the USA flag. I think it’s about time that the USA [and its citizens] listen to Haitians expressing disgust with how their sovereignty and democracy are ignored by the USA,” said John.