South Florida residents will meet in a field in Pembroke Pines Sunday night to show their support for the people of Haiti. The gathering will take place less than a month after Haitian President Jovenel Moise was assassinated in his home on July 7. His wife, Martine Moise, was wounded in the attack at their residence on the outskirts of Port au Prince. She was taken to the United States, where she received treatment at a Miami hospital. People on the streets of Port au Prince, the nation's capital, wondered who is safe if the leader of their country can be murdered at home.
The FBI on Tuesday raided a Weston home in a gated Broward County community, seeking evidence connected to the shootings. The home belongs to Walter Veintemilla, the president of Worldwide Capital Lending Group, according to Newsweek. Robert Nicholson, a Ft. Lauderdale attorney, represents Veintemilla. He told the Miami Herald "that his client brokered a loan to help create a peaceful transition of power in Haiti and nothing else," Newsweek reported.
More than 300,000 Haitians live in South Florida, according to a 2017 Sun-Sentinel article on their growing political clout here. State House Representative Marie Woodson is a recent example of the growing influence of Haitians and Haitian-Americans. Woodson came to South Florida several decades ago. She sought opportunities here that she could not find in her native country. Woodson had planned to become a doctor but did not have the connections to advance in Haiti.
After working in Miami-Dade County government social services for 35 years, Woodson retired. In retirement, she entered the Democratic primary for the open District 101 seat, which represents Hollywood, and Pembroke Pines, among other local communities. She defeated two political veterans, and went on to win the election last November, defeating a Republican challenger.
In her printed invitation announcing the prayer vigil, Woodson asked people to "wear casual white to show solidarity with the people of Haiti." The vigil starts at 6:30 p.m., at a multipurpose field at the Pines Recreation Center, 7400 Pines Blvd.
Haiti shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic. Many Haitians live in poverty or extreme poverty, for a variety of reasons, including poor political leadership, energy problems, susceptibility to natural disasters, and exploitation.
"According to the United Nations Development Program, 24.7 percent of Haitians live in extreme poverty, which is less than $1.25 per day," the Borgen Project reported. The Borgen Project, a group that fights extreme poverty, added, "Even more, approximately 59 percent of Haitians live on less than $2 a day. However, the rate of extreme poverty has started to decline since 2000."