The assassinated Haitian president, Jovenel Moïse, was buried after a military ceremony and funeral mass in his hometown of Cap Haïtien.
MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
The assassinated president of Haiti, Jovenel Moise, was buried today in his hometown in the northern city of Cap-Haitien. The ceremony was a mixture of military honors and a Catholic funeral mass.
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UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (Singing in a language other than English).
KELLY: Crowds of supporters shouted, justice, near the family plot, where the ceremony took place. And when the process was interrupted by gunfire, several foreign dignitaries, including the US ambassador to the UN, fled the area. NPR’s Carrie Kahn covers Haiti, joining us now from Mexico City.
CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: Hi.
KELLY: I guess the funeral wasn’t in the capital because they wanted to do it in Moise’s hometown. How was the scene there today?
KAHN: Right. It was up north that Moise came from, so it was a very supportive crowd, including a large group that gathered outside of the ceremony. Many shouted, justice, when the first lady and her three children arrived. The family sat on a raised platform surrounded by security personnel. And Moise’s coffin, which was draped in the blue and red Haitian flag, was on another platform. And when his wife came in, he went straight to the coffin. His right arm is in a sling. She was seriously injured in the attack. And he took her left hand, kissed it, and then gently touched the coffin.
KELLY: And did you speak in the toilet? Who are we listening to?
KAHN: She did. A priest first delivered a passionate homily, urging the country to unite in peace. Family members spoke and then his wife, Martine. He spoke of how compassionate Moise was. She said her husband stood up for the poor, the oppressed and the vulnerable. And she asked repeatedly, why was he killed just because he stood up for those ideals?
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MARTINE MOISE: (speaks French).
KAHN: She says, “Don’t let our president’s blood be spilled in vain. Let’s cry out for justice. Let’s cry out for justice.”
KELLY: Speaking of justice, Carrie, what is the status of the investigation into who killed Moise?
KAHN: There have been 26 arrests, including 18 Colombians, three Haitian Americans, several police officers, two who were part of the Moise security detachment. And they have been detained, but there are not many clear answers as to why these foreign mercenaries were in Haiti, who paid them, and why they killed the president. His supporters say it was because he stood up for the poor and challenged the wealthy elites of Haiti. But look. Moise was very unpopular and had been investigated for corruption, and was unable to take control of Haiti’s gangs or its economy, which have deteriorated greatly under his rule.
KELLY: Before I let you go, can we go back to a detail? The fact that the US ambassador to the UN was there, he led the US delegation at the funeral, but he had to leave because the shooting broke out, what happened?
KAHN: Right. The delegation was there for only about half an hour when there was gunfire and reportedly skirmishes between Moise’s supporters and the police outside the funeral. The delegation is back in the United States. And I actually spoke to Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield. She said this was not the way she expected the day to end, but says she was able to speak with senior officials in private and get the message across from the international community.
LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD: He asked all leaders to clearly tell their followers that they must refrain from violence. And they got that message today, and I think that message was well received.
KAHN: You say that this time, the UN has no plans to send peacekeeping troops.
KELLY: Thank you, Carrie.
KAHN: You’re welcome.
KELLY: Carrie Kahn from NPR.
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