UPDATE, July 8, 9:51 a.m. EST: Jovenel Moïse’s wife Martine is hospitalized after being airlifted to Florida. Her condition was misreported by several news outlets after erroneous information was released.
Violence and civil unrest have reached new heights in Haiti following the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, 53, Tuesday night.
His wife, Martine, was seriously injured during the assault by unidentified attackers at the couple’s private residence. As of Thursday, she remains hospitalized after being airlifted to Florida.
In a statement, interim Premier Claude Joseph called the attack a “hateful, inhumane and barbaric act.”
Over the past several years, Haitian citizens have faced a precarious situation, politically, socially and economically.
Frustration has mounted after the president, who had been in his fifth year in office, refused to hold elections and continued to maintain control by decree while seizing opportunities to increase his power.
In recent months, members of the opposition have demanded he step down.
Joseph asserted that order will be maintained.
“The country’s security situation is under the control of the National Police of Haiti and the Armed Forces of Haiti,” Joseph said in a statement from his office. “Democracy and the republic will win.”
Haiti had been scheduled to hold elections later this year.
Early Wednesday morning, the streets in the nation’s capital of Port-au-Prince remained virtually empty. However, reports indicate that some citizens have ransacked businesses.
According to Joseph, police have been dispatched to the National Palace and to Pétionville, an upscale community located about four miles, or six kilometers, south of the capital.
Here in the U.S., officials continue to monitor the situation and to receive specific information on the attack.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters, “We’re still assessing right now.”
“We stand ready and stand by them to provide any assistance that’s needed,” she said. “Of course, our embassy and State Department will be in close touch but it’s a tragedy. We stand with them and it’s important that the people of Haiti know that.”
The U.S., Haiti’s top foreign donor, has been accused of showing favoritism toward Moïse by members of the nation’s opposing party, particularly in light of his support of U.S. foreign policy.
An example of that support is his administration’s decision to oppose Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro — a decision that angered many within the Caribbean community.
It remains to be seen who will replace the president as the line of succession in Haiti stands vague at best. Haiti’s president of the Supreme Court, who would normally be next in line, recently died of COVID-19.
For Joseph to assume power, he would need the approval of Haiti’s parliament. But in the absence of elections over the past several years, the parliament has been rendered effectively powerless.
White House officials said President Joe Biden would be making an official statement sometime Wednesday following a morning briefing.

D. Kevin McNeir – Senior Editor

Dominic Kevin McNeir is an award-winning journalist with more than 25 years of service for the Black Press (NNPA). Prior to moving East to assist his aging parents in their struggles with Alzheimer’s,...

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