Haitian-born Winnipegger reacts to assassination of president

As investigators in Haiti round up more of those accused of plotting and carrying out the killing of President Jovenel Moise earlier this week, the assassination’s impact is being felt far from the Caribbean island nation.

Arisnel Mésidor is a Haitian who’s been living in Winnipeg for over 17 years. He told CTV Morning Live he is in regular contact with members of his family who still live in Haiti. He said his parents live hundreds of kilometres from the capital of Port-au-Prince, but his wife’s sister and brothers live in the capital.

After the assassination, Mésidor said he received a heart-rending message from a sister-in-law of his.

“She said, if we had wings, we would fly away from this country…this is too much and people are finding the situation unbearable,” Mésidor said.

Mésidor says his first reaction was to think, “How bad can it still get” in his home country. He said he’s often observed events there and thought the situation couldn’t get any worse.

“And yet, we only have to wait for a couple of weeks or a month and something worse still could happen. That is what came to our thought when we heard (the) news of the assassination. Leading up to this was a country impacted by insecurity, desperation, poverty and confusion as well,” said Mésidor.

Uncertainty and division over the country’s political situation also played a role, according to Mésidor.

“Many citizens believe that the president was, the government was illegitimate, some did not believe so, so people were wondering what it is, what is it? People were anxious because there was an election planned for September,” said Mésidor.

Mésidor said the pandemic has also hit the country particularly hard, with very low vaccination rates adding to the turmoil.

He said it’s important for the world not to turn away from what is happening in Haiti, but rather to pay attention.

“Haiti is a neighbour, so things happening there will have some sort of impact in Canada or the U.S. so let us pay attention and let us ask ourselves how we can help. (Anyway) somebody can help will be helpful,” Mésidor said.

- With files from CTV’s Michael Hutchinson.