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Haitian President’s Hometown Funeral Receives Protests: NPR

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Haitian President’s Hometown Funeral Receives Protests: NPR

Martine Moïse, the former first lady of Haiti, stands next to the coffin of her slain husband, former President Jovenel Moïse, during his funeral on Friday.

Matías Delacroix / AP


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Matías Delacroix / AP

Martine Moïse, the former first lady of Haiti, stands next to the coffin of her slain husband, former President Jovenel Moïse, during his funeral on Friday.

Matías Delacroix / AP

CAP-HAITIEN, Haiti – The body of slain Haitian President Jovenel Moïse was returned to his hometown on Friday for a private funeral amid tight security after violent protests and fears of political volatility in the Caribbean nation.

Martine Moïse came shouting “Justice! Justice!” As she headed straight for her husband’s coffin, she climbed the stairs and stopped in front of him. His right arm in a sling, he put his left arm over the coffin and then brought it to his heart as he stood there in silence. Tears welled up in her eyes when her three children joined her.

Minutes later, a group of supporters took a large portrait of Moïse and marched with him as the police band began to play the national anthem amid loud laments.

When the ceremony began, hundreds of protesters clashed with the police in front of the private residence. Gunfire erupted and tear gas and black smoke entered the ceremony. Shouts from the protesters reached the religious leaders speaking at the funeral.

Before, shouts of “Murderer!” filled the air with the arrival of the head of the Haitian National Police, Leon Charles. Haitians dressed in shady suits, shiny shoes, and black-and-white formal dresses screamed and pointed to neighboring seating platforms where Haitian officials and foreign dignitaries sat on at least a dozen men with high-powered weapons.

“You did not take any action to save Jovenel! You contributed to his death!” yelled a woman.

On the following grounds, a Moïse supporter threatened Charles: “You have to go now or we will look for you after the funeral!”

Newly appointed Prime Minister Ariel Henry came next with shouts of “Justice for Jovenel!”

A man attends the funeral of assassinated Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, at the Moïse family home in Cap-Haitien on Friday.

Matías Delacroix / AP


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Matías Delacroix / AP

A man attends the funeral of assassinated Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, at the Moïse family home in Cap-Haitien on Friday.

Matías Delacroix / AP

The day before what is expected to be the final ceremony in honor of Moïse, who was shot several times on July 7 during an attack on his private home that seriously injured his wife, white T-shirts and caps with his photo stamped were distributed to the sympathizers. Martine.

“This is something that will remain etched in our memory,” said Pedro Guilloume, a Cap-Haitien resident who was hoping to attend the funeral. “May all Haitians channel solidarity.”

Moïse’s body arrived shortly after dawn at her family’s seaside property where the funeral is taking place. Six officials carried the brown coffin to a stage where they greeted it and stood in front of it in silence for several minutes before placing a large red and blue Haitian flag on it.

Officials carry the coffin of slain Haitian President Jovenel Moïse to the start of the funeral at his family’s home on Friday.

Matías Delacroix / AP


hide legend

toggle subtitle

Matías Delacroix / AP

Officials carry the coffin of slain Haitian President Jovenel Moïse to the start of the funeral at his family’s home on Friday.

Matías Delacroix / AP

Before the funeral began, a man wrapped himself in a large Haitian flag and approached the coffin shouting: “We have to fight and get justice for Jovenel!” Next to him, a man wearing a T-shirt commemorating Moïse joined him and shouted: “Jovenel died big! He died for me and the rest of the country … We are not going to back down.”

The funeral comes days after Henry, with the support of key international diplomats, was installed in Haiti, a move that appeared to be aimed at preventing a leadership struggle in the wake of Moïse’s assassination.

Henry, who was appointed prime minister by Moïse before he was assassinated but never sworn in, replaced interim prime minister Claude Joseph, and has vowed to form an interim consensus government until elections are held.

A police officer abandons his vehicle during a Thursday rally that turned violent as protesters demanded justice for the assassinated President Jovenel Moïse in Cap-Haitien.

Matías Delacroix / AP


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Matías Delacroix / AP

A police officer abandons his vehicle during a Thursday rally that turned violent as protesters demanded justice for the assassinated President Jovenel Moïse in Cap-Haitien.

Matías Delacroix / AP

On Thursday, violent demonstrations affected neighborhoods in Cap Haitien when groups of men fired into the air and blocked some roads with burning tires. A heavily guarded police convoy carrying unknown officials ran through a burning barricade and a vehicle nearly overturned.

A priest who presided over a mass Thursday morning at Cap-Haitian Cathedral in honor of Moïse warned that there was too much bloodshed in Haiti as he called on people to find peace, noting that the poorest communities are seen affected.

On Thursday night, Martine Moïse and her three children appeared at a small religious ceremony at a hotel in Cap-Haitien where Henry and other government officials offered their condolences.

“They took his life, but they can’t take his memories,” said a priest who presided over the ceremony. “They can’t take your brain. They can’t take your ideas. We are Jovenel Moïse.”

Moïse was sworn in as Haiti’s president in February 2017 and faced mounting criticism in recent years from those who accused him of becoming increasingly authoritarian. He had been ruling by decree for more than a year after the country was unable to hold legislative elections.

Authorities have said that at least 26 suspects have been arrested in the killing, including 18 former Colombian soldiers. Police are still searching for several more suspects who they say were involved in the assassination plot, including a former rebel leader and a former senator.

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