Manitoba

Manitobans fear for family in Haiti after assassination of country's president

Haitian Manitobans with family still in the country are worried about their family members' safety following the assassination of Jovenel Moïse, Haiti's president, on Wednesday.

Haiti in state of emergency while government searches for the attackers who killed Jovenel Moïse Wednesday

Journalists stand next to a yellow police cordon near the residence of Haiti's President Jovenel Moïse after he was shot dead by unidentified attackers, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Wednesday. (Estailove St-Val/Reuters)

Haitian Manitobans with family still in the country are worried about their family members' safety following the assassination of Jovenel Moïse, Haiti's president, on Wednesday.

"There was an amount of disbelief, but mostly sadness. If anything, this is going to add to the instability already existing in the country, the insecurity and the hard life people are living there," said Arisnel Mésidor, whose wife's family is in Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital city. He is also a member of the Regroupement Des Haitiens Du Manitoba, a non-profit organization that supports Haitian Manitobans. 

A former missionary to the country whose brother is also in the capital city says there is uncertainty of what comes next.

"According to my brother, each of the groups are fighting against each other. Because of that, if you're on the street at the wrong time and the wrong day, you're killed — they just shoot you. It is not safe for me to go down to Haiti," said Marie Pudwill. 

"He was telling me no one is on the street right now, because everybody's scared. They don't know what's going to happen," Pudwill says. "Is there going to be more violence? Or are they going to be happy? We don't know." 

Marie Pudwill says her brother in Port-au-Prince has told her residents are scared of the violence on the streets in Haiti's capital city. (Submitted by Marie Pudwill)

Moïse was killed early Wednesday morning by unidentified attackers in his private residence in what the Haitian government says was a "barbaric act."

The 53-year-old was a banana exporter-turned-politician, who had ruled by decree for more than a year after the country failed to hold legislative elections in 2019, Thomson Reuters reports.

Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph — who was just appointed as prime minister this week by Moïse — said in televised remarks that the Haitian government has declared a two-week state of emergency as it launches a manhunt for the killers. 

Moïse's wife, Martine, was also shot but she remains alive and is receiving medical treatment. 

President Moïse, seen here in a photo taken in December 2017, was shot dead in his home. (Ludovic Marin/Reuters)

Violence is still ongoing in Haiti due to poverty and political instability, and the country of 11 million is still trying to recover from a major earthquake in 2010.

Port-au-Prince is currently experiencing gang violence with armed groups going against police for control of the streets. No-go zones are currently in place in city districts.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned the assassination on Wednesday in a tweet, saying Canada is willing to offer assistance to support the people of Haiti. 

With files from CBC's Meaghan Ketcheson and Thomson Reuters

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