MIAMI (CBSMiami) — The assassination of Haitian Prime Minister Jovenel Moïse has stunned the country and shocked South Florida’s Haitian community.
The Caribbean nation of roughly 11 million people, many of them living amid poverty and rising violence, now faces an even more uncertain future.READ MORE: Broward School Board Meets To Discuss Mask Use For The New School Year
Haiti’s acting Prime Minister Claude Joseph has assumed leadership of the country in the immediate aftermath of the attack. He has declared a “state of siege” in Haiti, saying he did not want the nation to “plunge into chaos.”
News of the assassination spread quickly through Miami’s Little Haiti community.
“I know there’s political chaos and things happening in the country but to hear that the actual president got assassinated, that was just like unbelievable to me,” said a woman named Brenda.
“The people in Haiti were very angry, they were very hostile. So I knew eventually something would happen,” said Magaly.
Haiti, a country experiencing turmoil for decades, has been plagued in recent months by instability and gang violence.READ MORE: Florida Tax Collector To Workers: Get Vaccinated Or Find A New Job
According to Joseph, “a group of unidentified individuals, some of whom were speaking in Spanish” attacked Moïse’s home around 1 a.m. Wednesday and fatally wounded the head of state. Haitian first lady Martine Moïse was also shot in the attack and is receiving “the necessary treatment” for her injuries, Joseph said in a statement.
Moïse, who was 53 and a former banana exporter, had spent most of the past year waging a political war with the opposition over the terms of his presidency.
“We believe violence begets violence and that’s not solution to the crisis in the country,” said Father Reginald Jean-Mary from the Notre Dame D’Haiti Catholic Church in Little Haiti. Father Reggie, one of the spiritual leaders of Miami’s Haitian-American community, believes other countries, like the United States, need to step in.
“I’d like to see also the international community stop mingling in the issues of Haiti and instead of mingling in the issues of Haiti to give us a hand so we can stand up together.”
Brenda said she refuses to give up on her homeland.
“Be hopeful, be encouraged with everything that has taken place and hopefully change will come about.”MORE NEWS: Fort Lauderdale Shaken Baby Case From 1984 Leads To Murder Charge
Florida has the largest Haitian population of any U.S. state, with over 400,000 individuals, according to U.S. Census data and about 228,000 of those live here in South Florida.