Haiti Enters its 5th Week of Protests Against President

Protesters march during a demonstration called by artists to demand the resignation of Jovenel Moise, in the streets of Port-au-Prince.

by Dr. Jack Rasmus

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Demonstrations were held in cities and towns a day after tens of thousands of people marched peacefully in the capital.

Haiti’s President Jovenel Moise is facing the fifth week of protests calling for his resignation as several roads were blocked Monday across the country, after leaders from the opposition announced they will not give up until the president’s departure.

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Demonstrations were held in cities and towns a day after tens of thousands of people marched peacefully in the capital Port-au-Prince in a protest planned by artists.

Other sectors of the society including business groups, religious leaders and human rights organizations joined the protests urging for Moise to step down amid outrage over the situation in a country marked by high indices of hunger, poverty, unemployment, gang wars, crime, rape of women and children, the closure of schools and hospitals countrywide, and the shortages of fuel and food.

“I think it’s time that everyone understands that things cannot continue like this anymore,” businessman Anthony Bennett who participated in the march told reporters. “Everybody is just hoping to get a visa to run away. …The Haitian population has had enough.”

Police fired tear gas at a group of people in downtown Port-au-Prince. Patrickson Monteau who leads the protests in the zone was among the people targeted by the security forces. 

He said nothing will be accepted but Moise’s resignation, adding he was encouraged by Sunday’s mass demonstration to which even the bourgeoisie participated.

“That gave us even more confidence,” Monteau said, adding that “there’s a lot of misery in Haiti … the people are fed up with this situation.”

The country’s former premier Evans Paul who is close to Moise told Monday the Associated Press that the government is expecting to meet with leaders from the civil society and the opposition, which firmly has rejected Moise’s call for unity and dialogue.

Over the past four weeks, Haiti has experienced a situation of tension marked by violent demonstrations and police repressions in response to fuel shortages and government corruption amidst long-term poverty.

The lack of gasoline has weighed even heavier on citizens and residents of the highly impoverished country as hunger and insecurity grow.  

Since February, Haiti has been the scene of massive and deadly protests by demonstrators demanding the resignation of Moise and his administration amid major corruption allegations. 

When the country was already dealing with a tense economic crisis and high inflation, a report was published accusing President Moise and dozens of officials of having embezzled US$2 billion from Petrocaribe, the cut-price-oil aid program that Venezuela offered to several Caribbean countries, among them Haiti. 

The funds were meant to finance infrastructure development along with health, education and social programs across the impoverished nation. The president has since refused to step down and Congress has been three-times unable to push forward his resignation.

The Carribean country of 11 million people has been struggling for decades to overcome extreme poverty along with widespread corruption.

These last ten years were particularly harsh for Haiti, which went through one of the world’s deadliest earthquakes in 2010, an epidemic of cholera, brought in accidentally by United Nations peacekeepers, and Hurricane Matthew in October 2016.

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