Jovenel Moise, the Haitian president, was assassinated early this Wednesday morning, sending the already spiraling country into deeper turmoil. At a time of political instability in the country, this event is only escalating the current violence.
As of right now, the borders in Haiti are closed, as well as any international airports. Martial law was imposed in the country’s borders by the acting prime minister, who declared that the country was in a state of siege.
Antonio Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General, denounced the assassination of Jovenel Moise in a statement on Wednesday. He was one of the first leaders to voice concerns regarding the escalating violence and political uncertainty in Haiti.
Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, Mexican President, said that he was “sending a hug to the people of Haiti” during a press briefing on Wednesday. He reminisced about Moise attending his inauguration ceremony and said he was planning on sending more than 150,000 vaccines to Haiti. He believes that Haiti is “very much in need of help.”
Sebastian Pinera, Andres’ Chilean counterpart, declared the assassination of Moise very cowardly, calling for “unity and peace to strengthen democracy and find a way out of the serious crisis that Haiti is going through.”
US President Joe Biden expressed his own concerns regarding the assassination of Moise. Before departing on his trip to Illinois, he told reporters, “We need a lot more information — but it’s — it’s just — it’s been very worrisome about the state of Haiti.” Biden condemned the assassination as a “heinous act.”
“We are shocked and saddened to hear of the horrific assassination of President Jovenel Moïse and the attack on First Lady Martine Moïse of Haiti. We condemn this heinous act, and I am sending my sincere wishes for First Lady Moïse’s recovery,” the statement read.
The political crisis in Haiti will likely deepen after the recent assassination of the president, though the dire economic situation of this impoverished Caribbean nation is a larger part of the problem.
The economy in Haiti has been slowly contracting since long before the pandemic. In 2020, however, it shrunk by 3.8%. As of now, according to World Bank, around 60% of the population currently lives in poverty.
The United Nations Children’s Agency (UNICEF) noted this past may the problem of severe acute childhood malnutrition would double this year. The country will continue to grapple with a rise in violence and a reduction in essential services due to the aftermath of the pandemic.
According to UNICEF, more than 86,000 children under the age of five could be affected by this malnutrition. This number is more than double the previous year.
COVID-19 is currently on the rise in Haiti with the death toll the highest it ever was in June. Carissa F. Etienne, the Pan American Health Organization Director, called on the international community to “urgently” assist Haiti in its efforts to contain the virus.
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