Who was Jovenel Moïse?
Former President of Haiti. (June 26, 1968 – July 7, 2021)
Jovenel Moïse was a Haitian entrepreneur and politician who served as the president of Haiti from 2017 until his assassination in 2021. He was sworn in as president in February 2017 after winning the November 2016 election. In 2019, political unrest and calls for his resignation became a crisis.
In the early morning of 7 July 2021, Moïse was assassinated and his wife Martine was injured during an attack on their private residence in Pétion-Ville. Claude Joseph, the acting president of Haiti, took control of the country following his assassination.
Jovenel Moïse was born in Trou du Nord, Nord-Est, Haiti, on June 26 1968. In July 1974, his family moved to Port-au-Prince, where he continued his primary studies at École Nationale Don Durélin, and followed up with his secondary studies first at Lycée Toussaint Louverture, and then at Centre Culturel du Collège Canado-Haïtien. In 1996, he married his classmate Martine Marie Étienne Joseph. That same year, they left the capital and established themselves in Port-de-Paix to develop rural areas.
With little investment capital, Moïse launched his first business in Port-de-Paix, Jomar Auto Parts, which is still in operation today. That same year, he began development of an agricultural project of organic banana production from a plantation extending to over 10 hectares (25 acres) of land in the Nord-Ouest department. In 2001, Moïse partnered with Culligan Water to start a drinking water plant for distribution to the Nord-Ouest and Nord-Est departments.
In 2012, he founded Agritrans SA, introduced the agricultural project Nourribio to Trou du Nord, and helped create Haiti's first agricultural free trade zone, a 1,000-hectare (2,500-acre) banana plantation in Nord-Est. This project was supposed to export bananas to Germany, for the first time since 1954; however, only two containers were ever sent. This nonetheless led him to be nicknamed Nèg Bannann (Banana Man). The government granted tax-free access to the land, 15 years' exemption from income tax as well as customs duties on the purchase of capital equipment. Also, $6 million loan towards a new company, Agritrans, owned by Moïse, the president of the local chamber of commerce. Anonymous investors contributed at least another $10 million. Agritrans promised to create about 3,000 jobs; however, as of March 2015, it had employed only 600.
In 2015, President Michel Martelly designated Moïse as the presidential candidate of the political party Martelly had founded, the center-right Haitian Tèt Kale Party (PHTK). In his campaign, Moïse promoted bio-ecological agriculture as an economic engine for Haiti, whose population was over 50% rural. He also expressed support for policies pursued by Martelly: universal education and health care, energy reform, rule of law, the creation of sustainable jobs, environmental protection, and the development of Haiti as a destination for ecotourism and agritourism.
Moïse received 32.8% of votes in the first round of the elections held on October 15, 2015, with 54 candidates competing. However, an exit poll conducted by the Haiti Sentinel reflected Moïse receiving only 6% of the vote, and Célestin and many observers called the results fraudulent. Thousands of people took to the streets in violent protests, forcing the postponement of the runoff election. In their wake, the ballot was ultimately annulled in June 2016. In February 2016, after incumbent President Michel Martelly stepped down at the end of his term, special elections were held by parliament and Jocelerme Privert was then installed as interim President, until new elections could be held.
On November, 20 2016, a new election was held; a week later, election officials declared, based on preliminary results, that Moïse had won the election with 55.67 percent of the vote and with an estimated voter turnout of 21%, beating out 26 other candidates — four of whom claimed victory, before the official results were announced. Moïse thus secured the presidency without having to compete in a second-round election.
Moïse faced challenges to his presidency, from opposition leaders who believed that Moïse's five-year term should end from the date of the inconclusive 2015 elections, which would be February, 7 2021, five years to the day since his predecessor in office stepped down. But Moïse, counting from the date of his swearing in, had claimed that his term would not end till 2022.
In November 2019, Moïse met at the Haiti National Palace with U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Kelly Craft, about ways to implement a consensual resolution of Haiti's political crisis through inclusive dialogue. Craft later met with several political leaders from other parties, listened to their different views, and urged an inclusive solution with Moïse. She also urged the Haitian government to fight corruption, investigate and prosecute human rights abusers, and combat narcotics and human trafficking. But at the moment, nothing has been accomplished.