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Haitians in New York City assemble in Queens for a memorial service of Jovenel Moise.

New York’s Haitian community was called to sign a condolence book for former President Jovenel Moise at a memorial ceremony in Queens. More than 50 Haitians gathered an hour before the country’s funeral service began. The Haitian consulate in New York organized the event. The community members met at Renaissance Event Hall in Long Island City, most of them dressed in black. A portrait of the president and a condolence book was preserved for the attendants in the meal hall.

Attendants were welcomed with a saxophone performance of the “Amazing Grace” song and Haitian national anthem. Wisnique Panier, a counselor for the Haitian Mission to the United Nations, said he had bad emotions as a diplomat. “It is hard for me to be in this situation. When I heard of the president’s assassination, it was hard for me to believe that he was dead. I ask myself if he is really dead.”

A priest from Brooklyn, Rev. Juan Luxama, read a verse from the letters of St. Paul to the Thessalonians and addressed the congregation, asking them to appraise their hearts and ask themselves what they are doing to work for a better Haiti. “We can’t destroy our own,” Luxama said, urging the crowd to stay united. “At the end of it all, we must love each other, respect one another.”

Jacques Lauture, New York Consul, said in an interview that his officials will continue to assist the former president’s family and that the consulate is still doing what it can to process what happened. He said the consular staff has to maintain the vision of Moise for priorities such as economic development and electrification. Lauture also noted that the Caribbean nation, which has been facing an increased political instability and gang violence following Moise’s murder, should prioritize conducting elections later this year.

“We are still hoping to hold an election because that’s what Haiti needs,” stated Lauture, as he called for a political reunion. “We need to hold like, a dialogue together.”

Elsewhere, in South Florida, Haitians such as Guibert St. Fort tuned into the state funeral ceremony. He was live-streaming the funeral service at work. According to him, the funeral confirms the shocking news of the president’s murder. “To see the casket, the event, that’s the truth, the fact of what happened. I’m shocked,” said Guibert of Oakland, Florida.

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