The president is shot down.Haitians wonder what’s coming next


Port-au-Prince – I woke up to a text from a friend in Haiti.

“The President of Haiti has just been assassinated. I will not go out. I will cancel all visits.”

It was 5:30 am. Ondori was crouching outside our orphanage. They usually do so. But nothing was normal for this particular morning. As the sun rose to the hot, cloudless sky, the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere were suddenly shocked and lost their leaders.

I have now experienced two killings of the sitting president. It first happened in 1963 when I was a kid. This second time happened last week when I was in charge of 50 children. There is a big difference. It starts with knowing to be afraid.

The most memorable thing about John F. Kennedy being shot was being taken to a school room. The TV was playing. The teachers were crying. Immediately we were all sent home with a confused feeling that something big had changed, but we didn’t know what.

I knew this time. The commando-style killing of President Jovenel Moise was, in many respects, a Haiti event. Suddenly violent, confused, full of accusations, rumors and questions. The following question: If the president had a security team, why didn’t any of them get hurt? Why didn’t the dog get hurt? Why did the assassin speak English and Spanish? Who was responsible? Did you really have 28 men? Did Moise see it coming?

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But these were questions to the police and journalists. For those on the street, orphanage nannies, mothers and children looking for food, teenagers riding bikes for money, and those who are worried about safety and survival here every day, the question is It was more direct.

What’s happening to us now?

Stuck in the dark without electricity

I’ve been thinking about it since I received the text.

In the hours that followed, the streets were emptied, the airport was closed, the borders were closed, and our location, the Haiti Orphanage, lost all electricity. We got stuck in the dark. When Haitian police chased the neighborhood on suspicion of assassin, we found fuel for the generator, how much water we had stored, and by the time the streets were safe enough to try to buy food. I was thinking about how long it would take.

“I need more safety,” my Haitian friend warned. By the end of the day, we hired two plainclothes police officers at an exorbitant rate, and the safest place for all children after a breach was on the roof of the building, where you could try it. I decided that I could do it. To dodge the attack.

An ambulance carrying the body of President Jovenel Moise of Haiti passes by a mural depicting him near the residence of a leader who was killed by a gunner early in the morning in Port-au-Prince, Haiti on Wednesday, July 7.  July 7, 2021. Interim Prime Minister Claude-Joseph confirmed the killings and said police and troops were in control of Haiti's security.

An ambulance carrying the body of President Jovenel Moise of Haiti passes by a mural depicting him near the residence of a leader who was killed by a shooter early in the morning in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Wednesday, July 7, 2021. The interim prime minister confirmed the killings and said police and troops were in control of Haiti’s security.

Remember that Haiti is a dangerous place under normal conditions. Due to the recent kidnapping and gang war rash, most people are worried about random terrorism. Everyone was looking over their shoulders in reports that restaurant owners were kidnapped from the kitchen and students rushed down the street.

But the president’s ruthless murder? It was like a shovel on the back of the head. Can you imagine the sitting US President being killed in his home? By a flock of assassins? How safe can you feel for yourself?

Haiti was stunned. Fear and anger usually spill quickly on the streets here. Protests called “symptomatology” grow rapidly and become ugly. Shots are fired, tires are burned, and a black smoke plume is sent over the already scared masses.

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But this time there was none of them. In fact, few of Port-au-Prince went beyond silence. Traffic slowed down little by little. Busy streets are usually sparse. You can feel the distrust of hanging from the ceiling.

“Foreigners have come to our country to kill the president,” the police chief told the press.

“The president was assassinated by his own guards,” a politician told a radio station.

No one knows. Some of the alleged perpetrators were arrested and others were killed. There are many theories, from internal setups to foreign mercenary operations.

Meanwhile, the line of inheritance was confusing. Usually the head of the Supreme Court will take over — except that he recently died of COVID-19. The next row is the prime minister, who resigned a week ago and the new prime minister was waiting for confirmation by the disbanded parliament.

The truth was that less than a dozen people remained in the government. And now their leader is reportedly killed in the middle of the night, his body filled with bullets, and his eyes gouged.

This is the true meaning of “government is in turmoil.” We sometimes forget to rush into American political debate.

Haiti proves that things can get worse

Our country mourned when Kennedy was killed. The image of his toddler’s son salutes the casket brought us to tears. Some said it was the end of Camelot.

But at least we had Camelot. And the system. The vice president took over. Power passed peacefully. The murder suspect Lee Harvey Oswald was immediately captured and shortly after being killed by Jack Ruby. A committee was formed. We announced the survey results. There was a sense of order in the sadness. Still, many thought it was the worst thing they could imagine.

Haiti, as always, has proven that things can get worse. There is already a feeling that chaos is approaching here. When the haze of shock rises, people notice that there is an opening in the power structure, and various factions try to grab it. Violence is inevitable. Service will be interrupted. The office will be closed. The street will be empty. Our embassy here, which closed last week, will be jerky. There is no actual plan for the election. All futures are cloudy.

“The president has just been assassinated. Please do not go out. Cancel all visits.”

Every country has its own sound. These are the sounds of Haitian, the horror that mixes with the morning rooster. The next time you think you have a political problem, you may remember.

Mitch Albom is a Detroit Free Press columnist. The column originally appeared.. Stay up to date on his charities, books and events at Download the “The Sports Reporters” podcast on demand every Monday and Thursday from Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify and more. Follow him on Twitter @ mitchalbom.

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This article was originally published in Detroit Free Press: Mitch Albom: The president was shot down.What’s coming next in Haiti