A group of around 50 armed trespassers entered Haiti President Jovenel Moïse’s place of residence under the false pretense that they were from the Drug Enforcement Agency. The men entered the President’s bedroom, shot him to death and severely injured now-former First Lady Martine Marie Etienne Joseph last Wednesday.
The offenders, who spoke in both English and Spanish, faced no resistance upon reaching the President’s residence. Moïse’s son and daughter were in the house, hiding, at the time of the assassination. Upon completing their assassination mission, the team—who appeared highly trained—exited the residence, again with no resistance from the President’s guards, and scattered around Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti.
Moïse’s time in power was tumultuous, with many protests directly challenging the President throughout his five-year-long term.
Moïse stepped into office in 2017 as the next in a long line of successors selected by the previous President as the nominee of choice. Before his run for office, Moïse was best known as the “Banana man,” a reference to his family banana plantation. He won the election by a slim margin in 2016, prompting many accusations that the election was rigged—though the vote was later validated by foreign powers. Nonetheless, the accusations pushed back Moïse’s inauguration by around a year.
Upon entering office, Moïse very vocally opposed, in his words, the oligarchs of Haiti, a handful of families—some of whom are representatives from foreign countries—that control a large portion of Haiti’s GDP.
Huge protests formed in 2019 as a response to a report which discovered millions of dollars in foreign aid missing within the Haitian government. Although the demonstrations reached a roaring height, Moïse continued his term without a trial or serious consequences to what many Haitians considered an alleged crime worthy of terminating his presidency.
The last of the large-scale pushbacks against Moïse came when he successfully extended his presidency by a year under the pretense that he lost his first year to election fraud accusations that delayed his inauguration. In addition, Moïse declared a new constitution will be written by a committee of his choosing, with no other participants.
In addition to the brutal effects of the pandemic in Haiti, many parliament senators left office with no replacements. The country is reaching a breaking point both economically and socially, as over half of Haitians struggle with employment and securing enough food to sustain themselves.
The gigantic power vacuum in Haiti is even further expanded by the assassination of Moïse, as a feud rages between the current president of the Senate, Joseph Lambert, and interim prime minister, Claude Joseph for power in Haiti—despite Moïse’s wish for Ariel Henry to assume the position of prime minister.
“In the blink of an eye, the mercenaries entered my house and riddled my husband with bullets,” said Martine Marie Etienne Joseph in an audio message pinned to her Twitter profile.