MIAMI — It was a battle from the start for Haiti’s president, Jovenel Moïse.
Even before he took office, Mr. Moïse had to fight off accusations that, as a virtually unknown banana exporter, he was nothing but a handpicked puppet of the previous president, Michel J. Martelly.
“Jovenel is his own man,” Mr. Moïse told The New York Times in 2016, shortly after having won the election, trying to rebut the accusations. He promised to show results within six months in office.
After more than four years in office, he was killed in his home early Wednesday at the age of 53. He left a wife and three children. In his last year in office, as protests against him grew and he declined to step down, he had to defend himself in other ways: “I am not a dictator,” he told The Times earlier this year.
Mr. Moïse was the former president of the chamber of commerce in Port-de-Paix, the country’s northwest region, when he ran for president. When he emerged as a leading candidate in 2015, few people had ever heard of him. They called him “the Banana Man.”
He won a majority of votes in a crowded field where few people had bothered to cast ballots. In interviews, Mr. Moïse often recounted how he had grown up on a large sugar plantation in a rural area of the country, and could relate to the vast majority of Haitians who live off the land. He attended school in the capital, Port-au-Prince. He said he learned how to succeed by watching his father’s profitable farming business.
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