BROOKLYN — Haitian-Americans in New York City woke up Wednesday morning to learn the Caribbean nation’s president, Jovenel Moïse, was assassinated as he slept in his hilltop home in Port-au-Prince, while his wife also sustained gunshot wounds.
“Pray for Haiti,” Kashina Lambert of Brooklyn wrote on an Instagram story, saying her relatives live two doors away from the presidential residence.
“Family heard numerous shots” and a bunch of people were seen running out the house, Lambert continued. “Guys, pray for my family. They live 2 houses away from them & are currently hiding.”
When PIX11 News spoke with Lambert on the phone, she said her uncle works with the National Police, and she is a blood relative to the Prime Minister.
The political situation in Haiti has been especially unstable, with a COVID-19 vaccination crisis and disputes about the recent presidential election.
“They were saying he ‘rigged’ the election,” Lambert said of the fallen leader Moïse, who was 53, “He told them he wasn’t going to step down.”
Moïse’s term was supposed to end in February 2022.
The president ruled by decree for more than two years after disagreements over the election process. The opposition demanded he step down in recent months.
“I felt he was trying to better the Haitian people,” Lambert said, “delivering water.”
Lambert was set to fly to her homeland last month, but was urged to cancel the flight.
“There’s no security there,” Lambert said, “I bought a ticket for June 20th. My family asked me to cancel it.”
Haiti is a nation of about 11 million people that shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic.
More than 88,000 Haitians live in Brooklyn, while an estimated 40,000 reside in Queens.
Lambert has closely watched the political events unfolding in her native country.
“Everybody wants power,” she said, “Everyone wants to dictate.”