CAP-HAITIENE, Haiti – Hours before mourners were supposed to pay tribute to assassinated President Jovenel Moise at a state funeral on Friday – a moment many hoped would help heal a divided nation – the northern city of Cap Haitien burned with anger and disappointment, revealing Deep divisions in Haiti.
On Thursday, the streets billowed with black tire smoke, a common form of protest in a country divided by geography, wealth and power. Large crowds of demonstrators ran through the narrow colonial streets, chanting, “They killed Jovenel and the police were there.”
Distrustful of the elite arriving from the capital, angry people tried to block the arrival of mourners from outside the city by throwing a concrete block at the lead motorcade that drove through the fire and then dragging a concrete pole across the street. Road.
“We sent them someone alive, they sent him a corpse,” shouted Franz Atole, a 42-year-old mechanic, promising violence. “This country is not going to be silent.”
The state funeral, scheduled for the Mois family estate, less than half an hour from downtown Cap Haitien, is expected to bring together diplomats from around the world and officials from across the country. However, the turmoil before the ceremony raised questions about safety and whether all those intending to pay tribute to Mr. Moise could actually make it to the funeral.
Two weeks after Mr. Moise was riddled with bullets in your own bedroom Authorities say that in the capital, Port-au-Prince, killed by a group of Colombian mercenaries, the country is still swirling with unanswered questions and seething with anger. Several of Mr. Mois’s security personnel were interrogated and detained same.
New government was installed in the capital this weekand its leaders vow to get to the bottom of the horrific killings and reach consensus between the country’s warring political factions and its angry civil society groups. But the excitement Thursday threatened to turn hopes of consensus into a naive, unfulfilled dream.
“The bourgeoisie of Port-au-Prince is to blame for this. They’re the reason for it all, ”said Emmanuela Joseph, a 20-year-old high school student, crying in her face on the side of the road at the end of a running protest. “All I’m asking is to close all the streets so they don’t come up.”
She added with lament that the president’s killers were outsiders who had long intervened in the country’s fate. “What kind of nation comes and kills the president?”
Others shouted that police and the presidential guard, whose members reportedly were not injured in the attack on the president’s home, were involved in the murder.
Cap-Haitien was dressed in mourning on Thursday. It was once the capital of the French colony of Saint-Domingue, which claimed one of the most brutal slave plantations in the world and was then suppressed by the world’s most successful slave uprising. The streets are marked with banners reading “Justice for President Jovenel” and “Thank you, President Jovenel. You gave your life for the people’s struggle, and it will continue. “
Not far from the city’s main stone square, where rebel leaders were executed more than two centuries ago, mourners lined up to sign condolence books and light candles in front of a large photograph of the president at the government building.
“We live in such a fragile time,” said Maxil Mompremier, standing outside the colonial-era Notre Dame de L’Assomsion Cathedral, where supporters of Mr. Mois had previously gathered for service. “Nobody understands what happened. Many people are afraid. “
Assassination of the President of Haiti
Originally from the north of the country, Mr. Moise was not well known in the center of power in Port-au-Prince when the ruling party selected him as its candidate in the 2015 elections. He was born in a nearby town Trou du Nord, and later began his entrepreneurial career in Port-de-Pays, where he became President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The fact that he was assassinated far away in Port-au-Prince led to rekindling of old divisions between the less developed north and the country’s capital and economic center, as well as deepening divisions between the country’s small elite and its disadvantaged majority.
“This is repeated throughout the history of Haiti,” said Emile Eima, Jr., a historian from Cap-Haitien, referring to the indignation felt by the northerners. “The dangerous thing is that both the issue of color and the issue of regionalism are turning into weapons for purely political reasons.”
IN President’s wife, Martin MoiseThe victim of the attack said that her family would pay for the funeral. Planes flew into the usually sleepy airport during the day, with more due to arrive on Friday.
But anger burned in the streets of this city.
“We will protest all night,” Mr. Atole vowed as the tires burned on the bridge behind him. “We’re going to make it harder for them to live in the city.”
Harold Isaac provided the reportage.