Florida lawmakers call for action after Haiti President’s assassination
The asssination Jovenel Moise threatens to destabalize Haiti. Image via AP.

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Haitian President Jovenel Moïse was killed in his home overnight.

The assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse on Tuesday night prompted responses from many Florida officials. The proximity to the island nation and high concentration of Haitian-Americans in the state makes U.S. relations a pressing issue.

Jeanette and I are praying for the people of Haiti and First Lady Martine Moïse. I urge President [Joe] Biden to direct the Department of State to support the Haitian National police and help bring the murderers to justice,” said U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio. “We cannot allow this cowardly, evil attack to bring even more hardship to the people of Haiti and further destabilize their country.”

U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, a Hollywood Democrat who represents the greatest concentration of Haitian-Americans in the country, co-wrote a Miami Herald op-ed with Miami-Dade Commissioner Jean Monestime calling on Biden to appoint a special envoy to Haiti immediately.

“A 90-minute flight from Miami, Haiti’s stability has significant economic and security implications for this country and the region,” they wrote. “President Biden has an opportunity to reorient U.S.-Haiti policy to bolster Haitian-led solutions and help charter a path back to democratic rule. The immediate appointment of a special envoy would be the critical first step in this pivot.”

Wilson separately tweeted Haiti’s interim leaders must be proactive about response.

I was shocked by the news of the assassination of Haiti’s President Jovenel Moïse and to learn that his wife, Martine, also was shot during the attack. My thoughts are with the people of Haiti and I pray that this will not lead to more havoc in an already extremely troubled nation,” she posted. “I call upon Haiti’s acting Prime Minister to reach out to President Biden for additional U.S. security enforcement. I also urge the Haitian people to remain calm during this international crisis and come together to save their nation.”

The commentary noted that past aid to the nation has often been squandered, but that can’t be allowed to happen again.

U.S. Rep. Val Demings, one of four co-chairs of the House Haiti Caucus, released a joint statement from the caucus.

“The assassination of Haitian President Moïse was a horrific act and stands as a clarion call for swift and decisive action to bring political stability and peace to a nation in crisis. We are extending our condolences to his family and loved ones. We are also praying for First Lady Martine Moïse. We also call for full transparency and an independent investigation into this criminal act. We remain committed, more than ever, to working diligently alongside the Biden Administration in support of ushering in an equitable, inclusive Haitian-led democracy. One that reestablishes rule of law, reinforces institutions of Haitian-led governance, and centers the safety and human rights of every Haitian citizen.”

U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, a St. Petersburg Democrat, tweeted condolences.

“My thoughts and prayers are with the Haitian people and their families, both in Haiti and here in Florida,” he wrote. “I call for peace and unity during this difficult time. The United States stands ready to provide any support needed for the Haitian people.”

U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, a Hialeah Republican, also tweeted concerns.

I am deeply concerned for the people of Haiti and urge the U.S., (Organization of American States), and the international community to support Haiti in the wake of the President’s assassination to ensure that it emerges ready for the difficult work of having free, transparent, fair elections,” he posted.

U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, a Boca Raton Democrat, tweeted, “The assassination of President Jovenel Moise is a terrible and tragic act. The United States stands ready to assist the government and people of Haiti in this difficult moment. We join with the people of Haiti, and the Haitian diaspora community in Florida, in sorrow and determination to help ensure the stability of our friend and Caribbean neighbor.”

U.S. Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar, a Miami Republican, tweeted in English and Spanish.

I am shocked by the news of the assassination of President Moise. I pray for the safety of the Haitian people and the preservation of their democracy. Haiti has suffered too much to be torn apart by another crisis.”

State Sen. Shevrin Jones, a Broward Democrat, released the following statement:

“This morning’s news out of Haiti of the President’s assassination is horrifying, and I pray for the people of Haiti during this time of crisis. The dangerous civil unrest, violence, human rights abuses, and extreme poverty in Haiti have only compounded since the devastating 2010 earthquake, leaving lives disrupted and people unsafe. It is my hope that the international community will step in to protect Haitian citizens and stabilize the unsustainable, tumultuous situation on the ground.”

During a news conference Wednesday morning, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings offered condolences to his family, and to residents of Orange County from Haiti. Demings said he suspects the assassination is sending shockwaves through Haiti and through the Haitian diaspora. “I believe these next few days will set the tone for how that country responds, and how our country will respond as well.”

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


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