On the 216th anniversary of the Vertieres Battle, the last battle of Haitian independence from France, thousands took to the streets Monday to demand the resignation of President Jovenel Moise, who clings to power even though social unrest has been uninterrupted for over the last two months.
Haiti's President Warns of Humanitarian Crisis, Calls for Support
In a speech on the occasion of the Nov. 18 holiday, Moise admitted that the population's living conditions are precarious and promised once again that he will initiate reforms to change things.
"The exploitation system is coming to an end. It does everything to regenerate, but we must unite to avoid it," the head of state said and added that "dialogue is the only way to solve problems."
While the Haitian president repeated an exhausted political speech, his opponents on Monday took to the streets to demand his immediate exit from power in the country's capital Port-au-Prince and other major cities such as Les Cayes, Miragoane, Petit Goave, Saint-Marc, and Cap-Haitien.
As it has become a common occurrence in the Caribbean nation, “unidentified” human rights violations also took place. In Delmas 95, a neighborhood in the capital, paramilitary gangs attacked protesters, leaving at least four people gunshot wounded. One of the injured was a radio journalist.
A funeral, which was held at the Sacred Heart Church this morning, in honor of five militants killed during protests in Port-au-Prince: Jean Belleville (34) Lolo Isnor (23), Vaudreuil Bernard (25), Pierre Yasmine (15), Poustin Wilson (36)."
The tenth week of consecutive protests began with schools and businesses closed. Barricades in the streets and roadblocks obstructed normal mobilization. "The country has never known such a boil," the Les Cayes Immaculate Conception Hospital's pediatric service director said.
Fuel shortages in August sparked protests that have morphed into a fierce campaign against Moise, and led to the closure of schools, several hospitals, and has impeded the delivering of humanitarian aid to vulnerable sectors.
"Political parties, organizations fighting against financial crimes and social inequalities, health personnel, workers, academics and religious persons, all demand the President's resignation," Le Monde reported, recalling that even Police officers have marched several times to claim better wages.
Until Monday night, 77 dead, 219 injured and 315 arrested was the balance left by the repression against anti-Moise protests, according to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).
Since February, Haiti has been the scene of massive and deadly protests by demonstrators demanding the resignation of the president 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 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 island 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.