QUARTIER-MORIN, Haiti (AP) – Hundreds of workers fled businesses in northern Haiti on Wednesday after protests near the hometown of assassinated President Jovenel Moïse turned violent ahead of his funeral.
Associated Press reporters observed the body of a man who, according to witnesses, was shot dead in the community of Quartier-Morin, near Trou-du-Nord, where Moïse grew up. Roadblocks were set up between the two communities, temporarily preventing cars from entering or exiting as two plumes of thick black smoke rose nearby.
Many workers hastily marched in single file along the main road that connects Quartier-Morin to Cap-Haitien, the town where events in honor of Moses were scheduled to begin on Thursday before Friday’s funeral.
People on the run said they saw tires on fire and gunmen calling for justice for Moses. A breathless woman said the gunmen told her, “Come on! Goes! Go! ”As the uniformed employees of all colors obeyed and left the area. She declined to give her name, saying she feared for her life.
Abnel Pierre, who works at Caracol Industrial Park, said he was forced to walk 45 minutes home because the bus carrying the employees was stuck behind roadblocks. He declined to comment further as he walked quickly towards his house as the sky began to darken.
These were the first violent protests since Moses was shot dead in his private home. They came a day after Ariel Henry was sworn in as the country’s new prime minister, pledging to form an interim consensus government and restore order and security.
In the capital of Port-au-Prince, Martine Moïse, widow of the assassinated president, made her first public appearance since her surprise return to Haiti on Saturday. She was recovering in a Miami hospital after being injured in the June 7 attack on the couple’s private home.
She wore a black dress and a black face mask and her right arm was in a black sling as she met officials near the National Pantheon Museum, where ceremonies are held to commemorate her husband. The capital has remained peaceful unlike the community in northern Haiti.
Authorities said at least 26 suspects were arrested in connection with the murder investigation, including 18 former Colombian soldiers and three Haitian police officers. At least seven senior police officers have been placed in solitary confinement, but not formally arrested, Police Chief Léon Charles said on Tuesday.