Haiti Natives & Security Experts React to President Jovenel Moise Assassination

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Gunmen assassinated Haitian President Jovenel Moïse and wounded his wife in their home early Wednesday. The attack comes after a series of anti-government protests and violence around the country.

Emmanuel Fenelus is a Haiti native who is studying theology in Connecticut. Fenelus heard about President Moise's assassination earlier this morning and his emotions began to pour out.

"I do not produce tears easily but this morning during mass I did that for Jovenel," said Fenelus. "I was shocked when I first heard the news."

Fenelus tells NBC Connecticut he is aware of Haiti's political situation, rising violence and the president's reputation among fellow Haitians. Despite those issues, he believes the president was making an effort to stir the country in the right direction.

"Always corruption everything not good so he didn't want that and so Jovenel admired him for that," Fenelus said.

Moise was elected in 2016 and took office in 2017. Earlier this year, the calls for him to step down turned violent with unrest and protesters arguing that his term ended back in February. Moise believed his term did not end until next year and refused to leave his seat.

With the assassination, Haiti natives who spoke with NBC Connecticut said they're hoping that their country is able to recover.

"It's really hard cause you know I wasn't expecting that with all the chaos I wasn't expecting that," said Frandy Jean Baptist, who lives in Connecticut and is from Haiti. "When it comes to the president, I can't even understand how and why."

Jean Similien is a proud Haiti native who was planning to go back home tomorrow but after receiving word about the president's assassination, he's not sure if it's safe.

"That's not good for anybody and everybody is in shock right now," said Similien. "Now nobody knows what could happen tomorrow."

Dr. Robert Sanders is the associate professor and chair of National Security at the University of New Haven. Dr. Sanders believes the attack serves as a reminder of how important security is and how the U.S. is continuing to work on protection after the attack on our own Capitol.

"You have to think about security for executive leaders where the United Secret Service is the gold standard," said Sanders. "I think January 6th enhanced what's got to be done by the United States Secret Service in the protection of the sitting president."

The U.S. Embassy said it was instructing staff to stay at its compounds in Haiti's Capitol until further notice and has advised Americans to avoid unnecessary travel to the Caribbean country.

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