Special Meeting of CARICOM on COVID-19 // March 1, 2020 in Barbados. Present were also officials from PAHO, CARPHA, Carnival Cruise Lines, FCCA, MSC Cruises. Photo credit: PMO Barbados creative commons

CARICOM holds emergency meeting after assassination of Haiti’s President President Jovenel Moïse

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Security and stability of Haiti a grave concern for CARICOM.

On Wednesday, the heads of government who are members of CARICOM met to discuss the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse. Haiti’s head of state was killed in his private residence this past Wednesday. His wife, First Lady Martine Moïse survived the shooting, but is receiving care at a hospital in Florida.

In a released statement, CARICOM condemned “the escalating violence, the wanton killings and the ravages of the armed gangs seeking to expand their territory and influence,” in Haiti.

Caricom’s Today news reported that participants expressed grave concern “over the untenable situation in Haiti which is in the throes of a protracted political, constitutional and humanitarian crisis.” They questioned the security forces and its ability to provide adequate security to a country already unstable.

In a CARICOM resolution, they offered that they hope that conflicting parties are able to talk as the “an approach that has become more acute as the overall situation deteriorates.”

Leading up to the murder of President Moïse, the island country that was the only republic to free itself from slavery through armed struggle, was steeped in internal turmoil between the country’s elites and the local gangs that have joined forces to challenge them.

Under President Moïse’s tenure, he had been active in CARICOM, and also hosted several meetings for the group. Following his death, Caribbean officials who worked with him offered their sympathies and expressed outrage.

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“All of CARICOM feels the pain which has been inflicted on Haiti by this killing,” Prime Minister Brown said in the statement.

Other Caribbean heads of state have also made public statements against the killing. “This heinous act is a stain on Haiti and a sorrowful time for the region,” said the Prime Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness.

Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, the Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines released a statement saying the following:

I am saddened to learn of the violent death of my colleague and friend, the President of Haiti H.E Jovenel Moïse. The GoSVG condemns this abhorrent act and reiterates, that we in CARICOM, do not use violence and thuggery which undermine democracy and the rule of law. 

President of Guyana, Dr. Irfaan Ali called for immediate action in the killing. “I am shocked and stunned by the tragic news of the assassination of the President of the Republic of Haiti, His Excellency Jovenel Moïse.  This horrific act is a tragedy for both Haiti and the Caribbean. Those responsible for this indefensible and cowardly execution must be brought swiftly to justice.”

Haitian officials are currently looking for the assassins who they said are believed to be mercenaries. Recent reports said several of the gunmen were blocked by security at the house of President Moïse, before they could escape. So far, police in Haiti say four men have been killed and two were arrested. Their identities have yet to be released.

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