Funeral For Assassinated Haitian President Jovenel Moïse Held In His Hometown
MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
Haiti's slain president, Jovenel Moise, was laid to rest today in his hometown in the northern city of Cap-Haitien. The ceremony was a mixture of military honors and a Catholic funeral mass.
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UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (Singing in non-English language).
KELLY: Crowds of supporters shouted, justice, near the family plot, where the ceremony took place. And when the proceedings were disrupted by gunfire, several foreign dignitaries, including the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., fled the area. NPR's Carrie Kahn covers Haiti, joins us now from Mexico City.
CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: Hi.
KELLY: So the funeral was not in the capital because they wanted to do it in Moise's hometown, I guess. What was the scene like there today?
KAHN: Right. It was in the north, where Moise hails from, so it was a very supportive crowd, including a large group that gathered outside the ceremony. Many shouted, justice, as the first lady and her three children arrived. The family sat on a raised platform surrounded by security detail. And Moise's casket, which was draped in the blue and red Haitian flag, was on another platform. And when his wife came in, she went straight to the casket. Her right arm is in a sling. She was seriously injured in the assassination attack. And she took her left hand, kissed it, and then she gently touched the casket.
KELLY: And did she speak at the service? Who all did we hear from?
KAHN: She did. A priest gave an impassioned homily first, urging the country to come together in peace. Relatives spoke and then his wife, Martine. She talked about what a compassionate man Moise was. She said her husband defended the poor, the oppressed and the vulnerable. And she asked repeatedly, why was he killed just because he defended those ideals?
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MARTINE MOISE: (Speaking French).
KAHN: She says, "don't let the blood of our president be shed in vain. Let us cry for justice. Let us cry for justice."
KELLY: Speaking of justice, Carrie, what is the state of the investigation into who killed Moise?
KAHN: There's been 26 arrests, including 18 Colombians, three Haitian Americans, several police officers, two who were part of Moise's security detail. And they've been detained - but not a lot of clear answers why these foreign mercenaries were in Haiti, who paid them and why the president was killed. His supporters say it was because he defended the poor and challenged Haiti's wealthy elites. But look. Moise was very unpopular and had been under investigation for corruption, and he was unable to get control of Haiti's gangs or its economy, both of which have deteriorated greatly under his rule.
KELLY: Before I let you go, can we circle back to one detail? The fact that the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. was there, led the U.S. delegation at the funeral but had to leave because gunfire broke out - what happened?
KAHN: Right. The delegation was only there for about a half an hour when there was gunfire and reportedly skirmishes between Moise supporters and police outside the funeral. The delegation is back in the States. And I actually spoke with Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield. She said that this was not the way she hoped for the day to end, but she says she was able to speak with top officials privately and get the international community's message across.
LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Called on all the leaders to be clear to their supporters that they have to refrain from violence. And they got that message today, and I think that message was well-received.
KAHN: She says that this time, the U.N. has no plans to send in peacekeeping troops.
KELLY: Thank you, Carrie.
KAHN: You're welcome.
KELLY: NPR's Carrie Kahn. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.