CAP-HAÏTIEN, HAITI — Haiti police fired tear gas as shots rang out Friday moments after the start of the funeral ceremony for slain President Jovenel Moïse, who was assassinated two weeks ago.
The U.S. delegation to the ceremony, headed by the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas Greenfield, cut its visit short after the shooting began around 10 a.m. Moments later the United Nations special representative to Haiti, Helen La Lime, left hurriedly with her entourage as well.
Moments before the funeral service began, the crowd began shouting “Assassin” as Haiti National Police Chief Leon Charles arrived. They were joined by others yelling, “Where is Jovenel?”
The funeral continued after police quickly surrounded the area near the tent housing Moïse’s coffin for the ceremony and fired tear gas, as billows of smoke from burning tires could be seen in the distance.
The emotionally charged and tense funeral began shortly after the arrival of first lady Martine Moïse. Flanked by bodyguards, the press and crowds shouting “Justice, justice,” Martine Moïse walked toward the stage, stopped at a portrait of her late husband and then made her way around the stage covered in white roses, birds of paradise and carnations.
She stepped up and then stood over the closed coffin of her husband of 25 years, his closed coffin covered in the bicolor of the Haitian flag, a medal of honor, distinction and merit in the middle on top of his presidential sash.
The crowd began to shout “Mare yo,” “Boule yo” and “Yo touye Jovenel, Nap vote Martine” in Creole — “Tie them up,” “Burn them,” and “They killed Jovenel, we are voting Martine.”
Moïse is to be laid to rest Friday in this historic city in northern Haiti. Tensions have been running high since Wednesday, the first of three days of mourning, as supporters and non-supporters alike said his death as a plot by the country’s Port-au-Prince-based elite against the poor black majority.
On Thursday, roads into the city from the capital were blocked, and fiery barricades were erected. A bridge was burned and shots were fired as protesters fanned out across the city, demanding justice for the dead president. Protesters shot at a restaurant as journalists tried to take video, attacked a foreign videographer in front of a hotel along the oceanfront and threw rocks at a diplomatic car, forcing security guards to fire their weapons and flee with a foreign diplomat.
Thursday afternoon, as Haitians attended a memorial service for Moïse inside Our Lady of the Assumption Cathedral, some people in the congregation shouted, “Justice before funeral,” while others said the slain president “was not a dog. He cannot be buried before he gets justice.”
Besides the U.N. ambassador, the U.S. delegation to the funeral included the ambassador to Haiti, Michele Sison; U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee; U.S. Rep. John Fortenberry; Daniel Foote, special envoy to Haiti, and Juan Gonzalez, senior director for the Western Hemisphere on the National Security Council.
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