Daniel Kurtzleben, host:
Haitian authorities are still investigating the assassination of President Jovenel Moise. The president was shot dead inside his home early on Wednesday. His wife, Martin, was also injured in the attack. Haitian officials say they have a group of suspects in custody, mostly Colombians but also two US citizens. However, members of the political opposition in Haiti are skeptical of the official version of events.
The news from Haiti this week shocked many Haitians living abroad. Among them is actor and activist Jamie Jean-Louis who works to raise awareness about Haiti around the world. He told us he was devastated when he first heard that the president had been killed.
Jimmy Jean-Lewis: I couldn’t believe Haiti would go through another phase as we live now. So I am completely speechless. It is a very destructive violent act.
Kurtzleben: Haiti has faced many challenges in its recent history. There was an earthquake in 2010 that killed more than 200,000 people and displaced millions. But there are also hurricanes, widespread poverty and corruption, and a political system that has struggled for stability since the country emerged from decades of dictatorship under the Duvalier family. And Jimmy Jean-Louis says you can go back to Haiti’s independence from France in 1804.
Jean-Louis: Right from the start, ever since Haiti gained its independence, after 20 years, Haiti has had to pay off a debt to the French people that lasted up to 60 years ago. So all the money that Haiti was making went straight back to the French people. So when they stopped this debt, which was in 1950, we started having problems in the country. That’s when Duvalier came to power.
So Duvalier stayed on for about 30 years. Then we thought that perhaps getting rid of Duvalier would bring Haiti into a different era and a better one. But, no, that didn’t happen. We had Aristide and Prival and then, of course, you know, the devastating earthquake.
Kurtzleben: Since 2010, it’s been like, he says, dashed hopes and political uncertainty. Even before the president’s murder this week, Haiti’s various political factions were already arguing over who should be in power and when new elections should be held. Now, Jean-Louis says he worries about what happens next.
Jean-Louis: And we still have a lot of political positions that are still fighting for power. In the middle of it all, we have people who don’t know what to do anymore. They are afraid. They still don’t want to go out. The level of insecurity is worse. So I don’t know where to go.
Kurtzleben: This Haitian actor and activist Jamie Jean-Louis was talking about the uncertainty facing Haiti after the murder of President Jovenel Moise this week.
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