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News > Latin America

Haiti: Funeral of Two Riot Victims Unleashes New Protests

  • People carry the coffin of a victim of the Police crackdown in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Feb. 22, 2019.

    People carry the coffin of a victim of the Police crackdown in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Feb. 22, 2019. | Photo: EFE

Published 23 February 2019

The Haitian cities are the scene of a violent repression against those who demand the resignation of President Jovenel Moise.

The funeral Friday of two victims of the Haitian security forces repression, which has caused at least nine deaths in recent weeks, was transformed into a massive protest against President Jovenel Moise.

Haiti: Heavily Armed US Mercenaries Arrested Amid Protests

"We are asking for justice. We are going to continue to protest. Jovenel can kill as many people as he wants, he still has to go," Josef Dicles, a cousin of one of the dead men, said.

During Noe Paterson and Aedemis Sonia's funeral, which was held in a church at Bel Air, people covered the coffins with the Haitian flag and sang chants remembering Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a former liberation theology priest who became Haiti's first democratically elected president in 1991.

At the Bel Air church was present Andre Michel, a Human Rights professor at the University of Port-au-Prince who is a spokesman for the Democratic and Popular Sector, an organization which is bringing together Haitian opposition politicians and social leaders.

"Is the Brazilian Army ‘guaranteeing peace’ in Haiti? Why does our government talk so much about Venezuela and keeps silence about Haiti?. On Friday 22, Haiti entered its third week of anti-government protests, which do not seem to end soon.”

At the end of the funeral, hundreds of people came with the coffins out to the streets of Bel Air, one of the poorest and most dangerous neighborhoods in the capital of Haiti. As their march moved through the city, citizens began to block streets and throw stones at vehicles, while two shots were heard.

One of the coffins was transferred to the cemetery, but the other was taken by demonstrators on their way to the headquarters of the National Palace, where they intended to conclude their protest. In the vicinity of Moise's headquarter, however, the police fired tear gas bombs and rubber pellets to disperse protesters and mourners.

One of the men carrying the coffin was wounded by rubber bullets, while an ambulance arrived at the scene and took the coffin away.

During this demonstration, several of the protesters expressed their indignation by the fact that U.S. mercenaries who were arrested last Sunday, with automatic weapons and sophisticated combat equipment, were sent to the United States without presenting themselves previously before any local judge. However, President Moise administration has not yet offered any explanation of the circumstances of that transfer.

André Michel denounced Wednesday that the mercenaries were in the island to work for Moise's administration and that they were trying to attack opposition leaders.

In recent days, the Haitian government has tried to reduce tensions by announcing measures to fight corruption and alleviate poverty.

In spite of the events unleashed by the funeral, urban demonstrations diminished in intensity. Apparently, people are fearful of increased insecurity in Haiti, a country which has the highest Latin American poverty rates and is going through a severe economic crisis.

"There is no work in Haiti and the government does nothing to help," Juan Maria Fontus, a 36-year-old protester, said and complained about the challenges of accessing food and clean drinking water.

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