South Florida (CNN) — When Haiti’s president was brutally murdered in his bedroom last month, there was only one witness to see it. She knew him better than anyone else.
Haiti’s First Lady, Martín Moise, was found bleeding on the floor next to the body of her husband, Jovenal Moise, on July 7, but she survived the mysterious attack – and is now under fire. Killers for justice.
In an interview in South Florida on Sunday, Mrs Moise – still black in mourning, her arm bandaged from wrist to shoulder – described the chilling details of the attack to CNN and called for the world’s help in solving the murder.
“Somebody ordered, and someone paid the money. Those are the people we’re looking for. I want the UN Security Council’s help to find those people,” she said.
Mrs. Moise is the only eyewitness to her husband’s murder. He is also the only other known victim, his elbow and forearm shattered in a barrage of bullets as the attackers broke into the president’s room.
That night she first learned something was amiss when she and her husband heard automatic gunshots outside their house around 1 a.m. Once they learned that the gunmen had entered the house, they tried to hide on the floor behind their bed, she said.
Still, Moises couldn’t believe what was about to happen.
“At the time, I didn’t even think they would be able to enter the room where we were, because we had about 30 or 50 security guards (at home),” she said.
Yet they did so, a massive security failure that Haitian authorities still have not clarified. At least two top security chiefs are currently in prison, including Presidential Security Chief Dimitri Herrard and the palace security coordinator Jean Laguel Civil.
From where she lay on the ground, her arm broken and bleeding in many places, Moises says she could only see the shoes of the intruders. He estimated that about a dozen men entered the room speaking Spanish, searching for something specific.
“They came into the room to find something, because I heard them say, ‘No eso, no eso – eso es’ (in Spanish: ‘It is not, it is not – it is’). Found what they were looking for.”
That’s when he turned his attention to the president on the floor and made a fatal phone call, he recalled with devastating calmness.
“He was alive at the time. They said he was tall, skinny and black, and probably the person on the phone confirmed to the shooter that it was him. Then they shot him on the floor.”
The attackers never addressed the president directly, and Mr Moise did not say anything to him in the moments before his execution, according to his wife.
“Once they shot the president, that’s when I thought, ‘It’s over for both of us.’ And I closed my eyes, you know, I didn’t think of anything else. I thought, ‘It’s over. It’s our last day,'” she said.
But the attackers left without bloodshed. Moise believes they mistook him for dead.
Even after the attack, the security guards charged with protecting Haiti’s first family never came. It was a maid who eventually found Mrs. Moise in the bedroom covered in blood, and whom she asked to bring one of her husband’s ties to act as a tourniquet for her arm, she said.
A team from the National Police eventually arrives to escort her, first to a local hospital she barely remembers, and then to a hospital in Miami with her children by plane.
As she left her home in the dark in the morning, Moise said she was stunned by the absence of any normal guards on the campus grounds. Dozens of guards are usually stationed at home, she says, and their dormitories are actually in the basement of the house, to ensure uninterrupted shift rotation.
“The guards won’t leave without an order. Maybe they got an order to leave – that’s what I think,” she said. “I was thinking a lot about how this could happen.”
Haitian officials have previously said that not a single guard was injured as attackers broke into the main gate, crossed the compound, smashed the front door, and searched for the president’s bedroom.
What the President’s security guards know, see or do are central questions in the ongoing investigation.
At least 24 police officers are under investigation, according to Haiti Police Chief Leon Charles. Twelve have been arrested, and four have been charged with colluding with a group of alleged Colombian mercenaries, according to national police spokeswoman Marie Michel Vernier.
But as CNN previously reported, judicial investigators have not been allowed to meet or testify with any of the guards who witnessed the attack.
Haitian authorities have no shortage of suspects in the murder plot – a total of at least 44 people are now in custody, including 18 Colombians and at least three US citizens. But despite the arrests of a Florida pastor and a local former Justice Ministry official who is accused of coordinating parts of the attack, no clear motive or motive has yet emerged. None of the suspects have even been formally charged.
There was little emotion on his face as he recalled that bloody night—other than an ironic laugh at the suggestion that the masterminds of the murder were among the dozens of suspects so far identified in the Haitian authorities’ investigation.
The true masterminds are still at large, Mrs. Moises believes. “The people they arrested are the people pulling the trigger. They won’t pull the trigger without an order. So the main characters we need are the people who paid for it. And the people who ordered ”
He is not sure that the local authorities alone are capable of uncovering the truth. He added that the Haitians need an independent investigation conducted by the United Nations, and that the case is likely to reach the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
Government agents in the US and Colombia are already backing an ongoing investigation into the murder, and their involvement is widely cited as a key to its credibility in the capital, Port-au-Prince.
“It’s terrifying to plan for months to kill a president and nobody around him knows about it. It showed me that the security and intelligence systems in my country needed to work. If these people have been around for months and we had a working intelligence system, the president would know,” Moise said.
He believes that even more nefarious forces are at play than incompetence.
“Haiti has powerful people. And because of their power, I’m not sure the answer can be found in the current investigation,” she said.
Her late husband was a controversial figure who was accused by civil society leaders of attempting to consolidate power by refusing to hold elections, undermining the democratic railing and blindly following mass violence.
His wife said he had made dangerous enemies among the country’s powerful oligarchs by attempting to abolish or rewrite lucrative state contracts.
Speaking at the presidential funeral in the northern city of Cap Haitien last week, the first lady warned that blood-thirsty “raptors” were still at large in Haiti, hoping to intimidate the next reformers.
“Is it a crime to free the state from the clutches of corrupt oligarchs? Is it a great crime?” he said.
“Jovenel has shown us the way, he has opened our eyes, so let’s not waste our president’s blood,” he said – one of several statements fueling rumors that he would one day run for office. can run.
Moise sidesteps questions about her own presidential ambitions with the grace of a seasoned politician, but she doesn’t shy away from politically charged topics. For example, she argued that the interim government should hasten to hold new elections as well as a constitutional referendum, supported by her husband, which gives more powers to the presidency.
Civil society leaders say elections will be neither free nor fair in the current climate of insecurity, which has seen widespread kidnappings and mass warfare in Port-au-Prince. Nevertheless, elections are currently scheduled for the end of September.
“I think with the coming election, with the constitution changing as well, we’ll have a better country,” Mois told CNN. “Not in five years, maybe not in 10. But we have hope.”
For the immediate future, she insists that her focus is on her children, her recovery, and ensuring that the international community, which has frequently intervened in Haiti’s affairs, now gives the Caribbean country an independent, world-class murder investigation. provides.
Although Dwarf from his new squad of US private security agents and facing a difficult series of medical procedures to restore the use of his damaged arm, he is ready to fight.
“That’s what gives you hope. You fight,” she said softly. “I’ll ask and ask and ask until I get it.”
Reporting contributed by journalist Atant Dupen.