In Haiti’s capital, Port-Au-Prince, streets were filled on Friday with thousands of protesters led by the opposition, demanding the resignation of President Jovenel Moïse. The march led to the capital’s U.N. headquarters, in an attempt to gain support from the international community, against the current government.
Two people were allegedly shot, and while the police fired tear gas into the crowds and blocked the main entrance of the airport, protesters threw rocks and bottles in response. Just in the past four weeks of ongoing protests, around 17 people have reportedly been killed, as stated in the Los Angeles Times.
These protests in Haiti have been occurring intermittently since February, with barricades, closed stores, and the burning of tires. The closure of schools has continuously affected around two million children. The country faces a humanitarian crisis, due to the lack of medical care, food, and clean water, according to CNN and the UN.
Claims of corruption and false promises against the government of Moïse have motivated the riots on the streets of Haiti. The opposition accused the government of the mismanagement and theft of two billion dollars received from PetroCaribe, a program managed by Venezuela whereby Caribbean countries can buy oil by preferential payment – this is meant to fund socio-economic development. Different projects such as housing for the poor, government ministries and a new parliament building have had contracts signed but were never completed, according to the Miami Herald.
The humanitarian crisis and allegations of corruption have led the people to protest and demand the president to resign. Last week, Moïse issued a video statement refusing to resign. He was later seen on Thursday at an event giving food and school supplies.
Opposition leaders rejected Moïse’s proposal of dialogue and created a committee of nine people to “set up a transitional government” and open an investigation into the cases of government corruption, said Youri Latortue, an opposition senator.
After meeting with the UN, U.S., Canada, and France to talk about the political circumstances, former Prime Minister Evans Paul, an ally of Moïse, stated that the president had two options: shorten his period of the presidency or nominate an opposition-backed prime minister, according to AP Style.
In July 2018, the current protests started when Moïse tried to end the fuel subsidies, as was encouraged by the International Monetary Fund. Suffering from a high level of poverty and the need for money, people in Haiti turned to the streets. The clashes led to the cancellation of the proposition. However, the confrontations continued, leaving around seven deaths.
Due to the fuel subsidy crisis, Prime Minister Jack Guy Lafontant resigned in July 2018. Later, Moïse replaced him with Jean-Henry Céant, a well-known lawyer from within the opposition movement. The new Prime Minister was fired 6 months later. No prime minister has been assigned since, as stated by the New York Times.
The inflation rate stays around 20 percent, Haiti’s currency has dropped continuously over the past five years, and the government has not decided a budget in the past two years.
The country continues to fall apart, and the poorest people continue to struggle more each day. One of the more threatening problems is the water crisis, to which the government´s solution was simply more water shortage.
“There’s a real water problem because we don’t have fuel and our workers can’t get to work. Workers drive cars with a state logo which can be dangerous to drive during a protest”, said Guito Edouard, director of Haiti´s National Directorate of Potable Water and Sanitation, according to CNN.
Multiple protesters and opposition leaders have questioned why the international community has not spoken against Moïse, witnessing the humanitarian crisis and allegations of corruption that this government is facing.
Meanwhile, Haitians will continue to protest the government until their complaints are heard.
“We’re going to keep protesting until he resigns or goes to jail”, said Assad Volcy, who launched a political party two years ago and is now working with other opposition parties to join forces and dismiss Moïse.
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