Haitian President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated in the early morning hours of July 7, 2021, in a brazen attack on his private home outside Port-au-Prince, the capital. As reported by The Washington Post, a U.S. citizen of Haitian descent, James Solages, is among six people arrested in Moïse’s killing, according to Haiti’s minister of elections and inter-party relations, Mathias Pierre.
Moïse's wife was also shot in the assault that killed her husband and Haiti's prime minister reports he is running the country.
Moïse's assassination ended a four-and-a-half-year presidency that plunged the already troubled nation deeper into crisis.
Moïse, a businessman turned president, made his way into politics using political connections that stemmed from the business world. Initially he invested in automobile-related businesses, primarily in the north of Haiti, where he was born. Eventually, he ultimately landed in the agricultural sector – a big piece of the economy in Haiti, where many people farm.
Existing street protests exploded in early 2021 after Moïse refused to hold a presidential election and step down when his four-year term ended in Feburary. Instead, he claimed his term would end one year later, in Feb. 2022, because Haiti's 2016 election was postponed.
When mounting Haitian protests ended the regime in 1986, Baby Doc fled the country. The Duvaliers had enriched themselves, but Haiti was left in economic collapse and social ruin.
The 1987 Haitian Constitution that Moïse sought to change was written soon after to ensure that Haiti would never slide back into dictatorship.
Beyond Moïse's use of state violence to suppress opposition, anti-Moïse protesters before his killing pointed out another similarity with the Duvalier era: the United States' support.
In March, the U.S. State Department announced that it supported Moïse's decision to remain in office until 2022, to give the crisis-stricken country time to "elect their leaders and restore Haiti's democratic institutions."
That stance — which echoes that of Western-dominated international organizations that hold substantial sway in Haiti, such as the Organization of American States — sustained what was left of Moïse's legitimacy to remain president.
Ever since the devastating Haitian earthquake of 2010, international organizations like the United Nations and nonprofits like the American Red Cross have also had an outsize presence in the country.
Now, the unpopular president that foreign powers supported in hopes of achieving some measure of political stability in Haiti has been killed.
This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. This version is an updated and expanded version of the original article published May 10, 2021. You can find it it here.
Tamanisha J. John is a Ph.D. candidate of International Relations at Florida International University (FIU) where she studies Caribbean development, economic imperialism, financial exclusion and Canadian overseas banking.
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