The President is dead.
Blog by Lisa Honorat
This is what we awoke to Wednesday morning at 3 am, as news began to flood our phones. Haiti’s President Jovenel Moise, and his wife Martine Moise, were attacked at 1 am, while they were asleep in their beds. A large group of foreign Spanish and English speaking mercenaries flooded the president’s private property with heavy weapon gunfire, dressed in black and army wear, shouting it was a DEA operation. The president was assassinated, sustaining 12 bullets to his head, and the first lady was critically injured with multiple gunshot wounds. The news spread like wildfire as the interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph, sent out an alert across the airwaves. He swiftly declared Haiti in a state of “under siege” and that martial law would now be imposed for the next 15 days, that everyone should remain sheltered in their homes until further notice. The airport, the Dominican border, The US and Canadian Embassies, the banks, and business, all closed until further notice.
This comes as the ultimate shock in a tsunami of political turmoil that has been mounting quickly over the last 3 years. Since Jovenel Moise was elected president, he has had fierce opposition on every side. The Venezuelan gas scandal where a number of Haitian government officials, including Moise, were implicated stealing billions through corrupt contracts, causing the gas prices to skyrocket overnight as they tried to recoup monies owed back to Venezuela off the backs of the people. The president is supposed to serve a 5-year term, a short time to fulfill his promises to the people to build infrastructure throughout the country and do his part to try to raise his country out of poverty. When he was democratically elected, the opposition insisted on a re-election. Yet, he still won the re-election and was installed as president a year late. When his 5-year term should have been up, he had actually only served 4, so he refused to hold an election until he actually finished serving 5 years. He had also dismissed 3/4 of the Senate last year in an attempt to clean out corruption and had been leading by decree. In the short time that remained, he worked hard to bring a referendum on the constitution. The hatred fuelled towards Jovenel Moise accused him of attempting to set himself up as dictator, when in reality he has been trying to bring change to a very broken system that is not working for Haiti. Soon after Moise took office, he tried to begin bringing reform in the private sector controlled by an elite group of bourgeoisie families that own the majority of large businesses and properties throughout the country. This group has controlled imports and exports, taxing everyone but themselves and Moise attempted to reverse this, stepping on big toes and igniting dangerous enemies. In turn, an influx of heavy illegal weaponry flooded into Haiti, equipping blood-thirsty, eager-for-money bandits willing to carry out these enemy wishes no matter who they harm. The gangs began to form and have been terrorizing the Haitian public for the past year with kidnappings, community massacres, and public shootouts, all in an attempt to weaken the President’s leadership, and making it impossible for him to gain control.
Most foreigners and missionaries have left or stopped coming, not only because of COVID restrictions but because of the insecurity. If mercenaries can break into the Presidential Palace in the middle of the night and assassinate the head of state, there definitely is no security in Haiti for anyone right now.
For the Honorat family, we had originally planned to be in Haiti for a month's visit over winter break in Dec-Jan. It has been a few years since some of our kids had been able to return to Haiti and because of the crazy restrictions and lockdowns happening in Canada due to Covid, it was an opportune moment for us to go, have a change of scenery and be in a location that has had the lowest rate of cases in the world. Yet, as many of you know, our month quickly came and went. Further travel restrictions prohibited us from being able to return to Canada after a month, so we decided to remain in Haiti until things calmed down in North America. We have been through many events throughout our years of living and ministering in Haiti; hurricanes, famines, floods, earthquakes, coup d’etat of Haiti’s first democratically elected President Aristide, political protests, cholera, dengue, malaria, typhoid, and personal attacks. Yet, our work and calling is Haiti and even in the worst of times, our hearts are here. This year the turns of events we have faced are none we have ever witnessed before. The worldwide lockdowns have threatened Haiti as well with economic pressures causing investors to flee, businesses to close, the US dollar less available forcing the exchange rate higher than 100 HTG to $1 US. But in all of our years serving in Haiti, we have never seen the state of insecurity and political upheaval so blatantly anarchist. As our one month turned into seven months, we only ventured to PAP twice when we absolutely had to go. Once, after our dear friend, Barry Hoffman, passed away while visiting with us in Haiti and we had to make all of the arrangements with the PAP-based funeral home to return his body back to his family. And second to fly out. Normally, a trip to PAP would be weekly for supplies, construction materials, furnishings, etc. But the indiscriminate gang violence has been so dangerous, that as of the past two months, no one can safely pass through the area of Martissant, a community the gangs have taken over, pushing out over 5,000 local residents who’ve had to flee their homes. Daily there are kidnappings, random killings, showers of automatic gunfire, and there have even been attacks on churches. All these have been tactics to undermine the leadership of the president, doing anything they can to remove him from his position. Yesterday, whomever “they” is that has wanted him out so much, took the ultimate measures to successfully remove him. Haiti now sits in a very vulnerable, uncertain state where things could get much worse or somehow, by a miracle of God, it could be turned around. We need prayer. Haiti is desperate and volatile.
For Haiti ARISE, our past seven months in Haiti have been very productive and God still amazes us with His sovereign hand of favor upon our ministry and community, despite the seriousness the country is in. This setting makes operating a challenge in many ways; construction materials are not as readily available, they are expensive, teams cannot come safely to help work alongside our Haitian crews, and school closures have been on and off due to insecurity and Covid. Yet, we have still managed to move ahead. As long as God gives us the opportunities to create life for our communities, we will press forward to provide an oasis in the midst of such turmoil, a place for people to thrive. We were not able to freely travel within the country, so we could not visit our churches in Les Cayes and Du Fort, but we accomplished many construction projects including the almost complete school cafeteria and admin office building, halfway of the high school building and the foundation of the first children’s village quadplex. We also were still able to host a small pastors conference in January, re-open our medical clinic 3 days a week, serve our baby nutrition program and create an inviting place for our students, staff, and workers in our technical school cafeteria. The church is still strong and growing and our elementary and high school students finished out the school year in June. We are so happy that our family all had the opportunity to be here and involved in the progress, despite no teams being able to come to Haiti with us.
We felt our time to return to North America arrived. Asher has graduated high school and is preparing to go to university in Seattle. We wanted to get back to help him get set up and visit my family whom we haven’t been able to see in 2 years due to COVID. As many of you know both Marc and I suffered illness with typhoid for almost the whole month of June and Marc also had emergency surgery for an epigastric hernia which he’s still recovering from. We thank God that he was able to get it done in Haiti with a very competent doctor so quickly. We finally were able to make arrangements to fly out on June 30, but our trip was a bit of an adventure. Since no one can drive through Port Au Prince, we drove across the mountains to the southern town of Jacmel, stayed overnight then flew out the next morning on a small 10 seater plane to PAP national airport. The trip was smooth, but a little nerve-racking for the kids flying their first time in such a small plane. The flight was 15 minutes in total with MAF, a missionary flight airline. We caught a taxi from the national to the international airport just five minutes down the road. Thank God everything went smoothly and we got to Seattle early in the morning July 1. Two days after we arrived, we heard the news of two plane crashes of small planes in Haiti. One crash was while a small plane was landing on the Jacmel runway, and a motorcyclist was on the runway. Thankfully, no one died in this one. The second crash, many of you heard about, had no survivors including 2 American missionaries. These two planes were not run by the same airline we just flew, but it still hits close to home. The news of the president’s assassination is another shock that is consuming our minds and prayers. We are glad we were able to leave Haiti when we did, even though our hearts are still there and we will be counting when we can return. For now, we wait with much prayer for our friends and those we love and for this country we’ve given our lives for.
Please continue to stand with us in prayer for Haiti. Thank you for all of you that have. We will keep you posted on any developments and our journey.