Dr. Eliezer Marcellus, an assistant dean in the College of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers University–Camden and an active member of the nonprofit New Jersey for Haiti, is available to offer his thoughts following the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse.
“My condolences go out to President Moïse’s family, and we are praying for his wife who is currently in the hospital,” says Marcellus, who teaches classes on Haitian history and organizes learning-abroad experiences in the country. “The main thing is to keep Haiti in everyone’s prayers. The people are suffering. Haiti has seen a lot of bad days, but this is one of the worst days in the nation’s history.”
Marcellus notes that this is not the first time that a Haitian president has been assassinated, but it is the first time one has been killed at home. He says that there is a lot of speculation; many questions that still need to be answered.
He believes that the next few weeks are going to be chaotic, especially without sufficient leadership to take the late president’s place. He notes that Prime Minister Claude Joseph, who now assumes the role of acting president, has only been in office since April.
“He is still new at the job, and he doesn’t have a lot of support and trust of the people,” he says.
Even under Moïse, says Marcellus, Haiti has experienced many security issues, including frequent killings and kidnappings.
“There has been a lot of turmoil already,” he says. “With his assassination, this just puts these problems at a different level.”
A native of Haiti, Marcellus says that he still has many relatives in the country, including cousins who work at the National Palace, the official residence of the president of Haiti. One cousin called him this morning to report that he was not harmed.
He says that many Haitians in the United States who have relatives living there are trying to fly them out of the country. However, the airport is currently shut down, U.S. airlines have begun to cancel flights, and Dominican Republic has closed its borders.
“The capital city of Port-au-Prince is going to be upside down,” says Marcellus. “I have friends who are part of the police force there and their job is going to be extremely challenging.”