Before Jovenel Moïse got on the ill-fated path that led him to become Haiti’s head of state, people around his hometown — near Port-de-Paix in the northwestern region — knew him and his wife Martine as smart, practical, approachable entrepreneurs.
“I used to work with him in the mud,” said Jislon Joseph, 50, a farmer. “We had this tractor that used to get stuck and had to pull it out of the mud. We slept and ate dry bread with Jovenel — then he became president.”
With such memories of Moïse being common around these northwestern parts, news of his June 7 assassination has struck the area particularly hard. In exclusive interviews with The Haitian Times in the days following the high-profile murder, several distant relatives, including Joseph, workers at the couple’s businesses and townspeople said they were shell-shocked.
“I spent two hours unable to recognize anyone,” said Joseph in Creole, meaning he was in a daze. “We’re shocked that our father died. There’s so much pain for everyone in the area. People are sick, have diarrhea, they’re stunned, they’re drinking tea.”