Haitian-American pols saddened, denounce assassination of Haitian president 

From left is Rita Jospeh, the Democratic nominee for City Council in Brooklyn’s 40th District, Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, and City Councilmember Farah Louis at a press conference discussing the p[olitical assassination in Haiti. The three are Haitian American. Photo by Stephen Witt

While expressing shock and sadness, Haitian American legislators in New York on Wednesday, July 7, strongly denounced the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, who was killed in an attack on his private residence on the suburbs of Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital. 

Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph said in a statement on Wednesday that Moïse’s wife, Martine Moïse, was also shot in the attack that involved a group of assailants. 

“I am saddened about the horrific events that occurred in Haiti, which follow an unstable period for the country, which failed to hold free and fair elections,” Haitian-American Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, who chairs the Brooklyn Democratic Party, told Caribbean Life.

“Haiti has always been resilient. We fought and gained our independence in 1804, and our people continue to break barriers and reach new heights across the globe. My hope is that Haiti will overcome this turbulent time, hold a democratic election and recover as a country,” she added. 

City Councilman Dr. Mathieu Eugene (D-Brooklyn), the first Haitian to be elected to the City Council, noted that “Haiti has been through many crises for many years – from government to government. 

“This situation is going to engender another crisis, and nobody can know what’s going to happen right now, because Haitian is a very divided country. It’s uncertain to know what will happen next, but in cases like that, if we go back to history, the people are going to suffer, and that will have an impact on the quality of life of the people who have already been suffering in many ways. I hope the Haitian people can get together to resolve the crisis caused by this situation,” Eugene continued. 

Haitian-born Registered Nurse Mercedes Narcisse, the leading candidate for the Democratic Primary in the 46th City Council District covering Canarsie in Brooklyn, lamented the crisis. 

“It’s unfortunate what’s going on in Haiti – that a sitting president has to be assassinated in 2021,” she told Caribbean Life. “We need to do better as a society knowing that Haiti was the first Black Republic (in the Western Hemisphere) to get its independence. So, I’m counting on our world leaders to support Haiti. 

“We have great people all over the world, doing great things, but yet we cannot function in Haiti,” Narcisse added. “There is a barricade; there’s something that’s preventing Haiti from moving forward. 

Meantime, the co-chairs of the U.S. House of Representatives Haiti Caucus – which includes Caribbean American Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke (D-Brooklyn), the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, – characterized the assassination of President Moïse as “a horrific act.”

The Caucus said in a statement the assassination “stands as a clarion call for swift and decisive action to bring political stability and peace to a nation in crisis. 

“We remain committed, more than ever, to working diligently alongside the Biden administration in support of ushering in an equitable, inclusive Haitian-led democracy – one that reestablishes rule of law, reinforces institutions of Haitian-led governance, and centers the safety and human rights of every Haitian citizen,” the caucus stated.

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer said an aggressive and comprehensive investigation to determine who is behind this killing must begin and bring those responsible to justice. 

“And I will strongly support efforts by the Biden administration to provide any requested assistance. It is critical that the United States and the international community do all it can to support the Haitian people and their desire to reassert the rule of law, order and civil government in their nation,” said Schumer.

-Additional reporting by Stephen Witt