MIAMI – With her elbow shattered by gunfire and her mouth full of blood, Haiti’s first lady lay on the floor next to her bed, unable to breathe, as the assassins burst into the room.
“The only thing I saw before they killed him were their boots,” said Martine Moïse of the moment her husband, President Jovenel Moïse of Haiti, was shot dead next to him. she. “Then I closed my eyes and saw nothing else. “
She listened as they searched the room, methodically searching for something in her husband’s files, she said. “‘It’s not that. It’s not that,” she recalls saying in Spanish over and over again. Then finally: “This is it.”
The killers are out. One stepped on her feet. Another waved a flashlight in her eyes, apparently to check if she was still alive.
“When they left they thought I was dead,” she said.
In her first interview since the assassination of the president on July 7, Ms Moïse, 47, described the searing pain of seeing her husband, a man with whom she had shared 25 years, being killed in front of her eyes. She didn’t want to relive the deafening gunshots, the shaking walls and windows, the terrifying certainty that her children would be killed, the horror of seeing her husband’s body, or how she fought to get up after the death. departure of the killers. “All that blood,” she said softly.
But she needed to speak up, she said, because she didn’t believe the investigation into her death answered the central question that plagued her and countless Haitians: who ordered and paid for the murder of her. husband?
Haitian police have detained a wide range of people linked to the murder, including 18 Colombians and several Haitian and Haitian Americans, and are still looking for more. The suspects include retired Colombian commandos, a former judge, a security equipment salesman, a mortgage and insurance broker in Florida and two commanders of the president’s security team. Haitian police say the elaborate plot revolves around a 63-year-old doctor and pastor, Christian Emmanuel Sanon, who officials say plotted to hire Colombian mercenaries to kill the president and seize political power.
But critics of the government’s explanation say none of those named in the investigation could afford to fund the plot on their own. And Mrs. Moïse, like many Haitians, thinks there must be a brain behind them, giving the orders and providing the money.
She wants to know what happened to the 30 to 50 men who were usually stationed at her house whenever her husband was at home. None of her guards were killed or even injured, she said. “I don’t understand how no one was shot,” she said.
At the time of his death, Mr. Moïse, 53, was in the throes of a political crisis. Protesters accused him of exceeding his tenure, controlling local gangs and ruling by decree as the nation’s institutions were emptied.
Mr. Moïse was also engaged in a battle with some of the country’s wealthy oligarchs, including the family who controlled the country’s electricity grid. While many described the president as an autocratic leader, Ms Moïse said his fellow citizens should remember him as a man who stood up to the rich and powerful.
And now she wants to know if either of them had her killed.
“Only the oligarchs and the system could kill him,” she said.
Dressed in black, with her arm – now limp and perhaps useless forever, she said – wrapped in a scarf and bandages, Ms Moses offered an interview in South Florida on the accord according to which the New York Times does not reveal where it is located. Flanked by her children, security guards, Haitian diplomats and other advisers, she barely spoke above a whisper.
She and her husband had fallen asleep when the sounds of gunfire shook them, she recalls. Ms Moïse said she ran to wake up her two children, both in their early 20s, and urged them to hide in a bathroom, the only room without a window. They huddled there with their dog.
Her husband picked up his phone and called for help. “I asked, ‘Honey, who did you call? ” “, did she say.
“He said: ‘I found Dimitri Hérard; I found Jean Laguel Civil ‘”, she declared, citing the names of two senior officials in charge of presidential security. “And they told me they were coming.”
But the assassins entered the house quickly, seemingly without a hitch, she said. Mr. Moïse told his wife to lie down on the ground so that she would not hurt herself.
“This is where I think you’ll be safe,” she recalls, saying.
It was the last thing he said to her.
A flurry of gunfire crossed the room, she said, hitting her first. Hit in the hand and on the elbow, she lay motionless on the ground, convinced that she and all the other members of her family had been killed.
None of the assassins spoke Creole or French, she said. The men spoke only Spanish and communicated with someone on the phone as they searched the room. They seemed to find what they wanted on a shelf where her husband kept his files.
“They were looking for something in the room and they found it,” Ms. Moïse said.
She said she didn’t know what it was.
“At that point, I felt I was choking because there was blood in my mouth and I couldn’t breathe,” she said. “In my mind, everyone was dead, because if the president could die, everyone could have died too. “
The men her husband called for help, she said – those responsible for her security – are now being held by Haitians.
The assassination of the Haitian president
And while she has expressed satisfaction that a number of the accused conspirators have been detained, she is by no means satisfied. Ms Moïse wants international law enforcement agencies like the FBI, which raided homes in Florida this week as part of the investigation, to track the money that funded the murder. The Colombian mercenaries who were arrested, she said, did not come to Haiti to “play hide and seek,” and she wants to know who paid for everything.
In a statement released Friday, the FBI said it “remains committed to working alongside our international partners to administer justice.”
Ms Moïse expected the money to flow back to Haiti’s wealthy oligarchs, whose livelihoods were disrupted by her husband’s attacks on their lucrative contracts, she said.
Ms Moïse cited a powerful Haitian businessman who wanted to run for president, Reginald Boulos, as someone who had something to gain from the death of her husband, although she never ceased to be accuse of having ordered the assassination.
Mr. Boulos and his companies have been at the center of a barrage of lawsuits brought by the Haitian government, which is investigating allegations of a preferential loan obtained from the state pension fund. Mr. Boulos’ bank accounts were frozen before Mr. Moïse’s death, and they were returned to him immediately after his death, Ms. Moïse said.
In an interview, Mr Boulos said only his personal accounts, with less than $ 30,000, had been blocked, and he pointed out that a judge had ordered the money released this week, after he sued the government. Haitian in court. He insisted that, far from being involved in the murder, his political career was actually better with Mr Moïse alive – because denouncing the president was a central part of Mr Boulos’ platform.
“I had absolutely, absolutely, absolutely nothing to do with his murder, even in dreams,” Mr Boulos said. “I am supporting a strong and independent international investigation to find out who came up with the idea, who funded it and who executed it.”
Ms Moïse said she wants the killers to know that she is not afraid of them.
“I would like the people who did this to be arrested, otherwise they will kill all the presidents who take power,” she said. “They did it once. They will do it again.
She said she is seriously considering running for president, once she undergoes further surgeries on her injured arm. She has already had two surgeries and doctors are now planning to implant nerves from her feet into her arm, she said. She might never regain the use of her right arm, she said, and can only move two fingers.
“President Jovenel had a vision,” she said, “and we Haitians are not going to let her die. “
Anatoly Kurmanaev and Harold Isaac contributed reporting from Port-au-Prince.