Haiti Faces New Wave of Protests as Calls for President’s Resignation Grow
Lyonel Desmarattes in Washington, Sony Louis in Leogane, Jaudelet Junior Saint-Vil in Fort Liberte and Hernst Eliscar in Les Cayes contributed to this report
WASHINGTON / PORT-AU-PRINCE – Hundreds of demonstrators protested across Haiti Monday, responding to calls by the opposition and anti-corruption militants to take to the streets and build roadblocks to force President Jovenel Moise to resign.
In Port-au-Prince, police fired on protesters who were trying to burn down a police station in the Carrefour Aeroport neighborhood, wounding a local radio reporter. Protesters did manage to set fire to a police car.
In the southern city of Les Cayes, protesters set ablaze a police station located in the southern part of the city. The local office of national electric company EDH was looted.
In Fort Liberte, hundreds took to the streets early. Some wore costumes as they marched through the tow,n holding a casket draped in white fabric, adorned with black crosses and the words, “Goodbye Jovenel,” written in black marker on the sides.
The Tet Ansanm pou Rebati Ayiti (Union to Rebuild Haiti) group, which includes various opposition organizations, Sunday called for the protests.
“Jovenel Moise is no longer president; the people have fired him, but the people must remain mobilized. The roadblocks must go higher and the mobilization has to go higher until we install a provisional government,” said lawyer Andre Michel, a member of the Democratic and Popular Sector party.
Referring to a protest last Friday which the opposition considered a nationwide success, Michel said, “On Sept 27, 2019, the people fired Jovenel Moise as their president…Jovenel Moise is a president in hiding….he is no longer leading the country.”
‘Where is Jovenel?’
Moise has not been seen or heard from since he delivered a national address on September 25, during which he sought to calm a furious nation and extend an olive branch to the opposition.
The latest protests stem from the Haitian leader’s decision more than a year ago to end fuel subsidies, a move that came at the request of the International Monetary Fund. While Moise reversed the decision after an eruption of violence, frustration has mounted over his inability to turn the economy around and end corruption.
Instead, Moise has infuriated the opposition and protesters and sparked the most destructive and violent protests to date. Asked if Moise is in hiding, presidential advisor Cange Mackenson told local radio station Magik 9 Monday morning that the president has control of the country and is “reflecting like a good coach.”
Late on Sunday, a series of decrees was issued by acting Prime Minister Jean Michel Lapin announcing new Cabinet appointments to head various ministries, including those for finance, public planning, migration, Haitians living abroad and tourism. The move followed shakeups in the interior and justice ministries.
— Communication Haïti (@MCHaiti) September 30, 2019
More calls for resignation
The Conference of Catholic Bishops has added its voice to those expressing concern over Haiti’s political quagmire. The conference issued a statement asking the president to face the consequences of his irresponsibility. “Is there a violence worse than living with constant insecurity? Is there a misery worse than the black misery that removes all hope? No people should resign themselves to accepting misery, poverty and violence as a way of life,” the statement said. “The officials at the highest level of government must take responsibility to guarantee the country and its institutions are able to function properly. They are morally responsible for the security and well-being of the people, first of whom is the president.”
An association of artists and actors also decried the political crisis. A statement issued Sunday cited corruption and impunity as the main culprits.
“We artists realize that these two factors are responsible for the terrible situation we find ourselves in, where many young people are leaving in search of a better life overseas,” the statement, signed by some of Haiti’s most popular and successful artists, said.
Meanwhile, the Dominican Republic reportedly reinforced its border with Haiti, adding more than 1,000 soldiers to boost security in anticipation of the planned protests.