Haiti experience Friday one of the most massive protests ever it the country's recent history as people took to the streets, called by the opposition, in the main cities to demand the immediate resignation of United-States backed President Jovenel Moise. The marches continue for two weeks now and have degenerated into violent acts, especially in the capital Port-au-Prince.
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The paralyzed capital witnessed several acts of violence as lootings; cars and buildings set on fire, including a police station in the impoverished Cite Soleil neighborhood, from where security agents had fled before the eruption of an angry mob.
Protesters blocked main avenues in Port-au-Prince, using makeshift barricades, stones, fences, and burning tires, requesting for the removal of Moise, who is blamed by the opposition for the deep political, social and economic crisis endured by the Caribbean nation.
“Jovenel Moise must leave. He is no longer our president. He is unable to provide solutions to our problems,” a protester, Judelin Pierre told EFE.
The main demonstration on Friday brought together thousands of people who marched armed with sticks, tree branches, stones, and even machetes in the direction of the wealthy southeastern neighborhood of Petion-Ville where Moise’s residence is located.
Some attacked shops and vehicles on their way and a photographer from the EFE agency was injured in the arm after being assaulted with a stone.
The police used tear gas and other gears to scatter the people upon their arrival in Petion-Ville where a strong police line was established to protect the route leading to the residence of the president, located on a hill.
This huge mobilization came two days after Moise delivered a rare televised speech to the nation appealing for calm, proposing to form a government of national unity and begging the people for a "truce.” In the last couple of days, he has made several changes within his government and provincial administrations in an attempt to find common ground with the political opposition.
Despite this desperate attempt, opposition parties - which have been boycotting the government for weeks - along with Haitians in the streets decided to maintain their call to protest in the streets.
“People believe that Jovenel Moise has failed in his mission,” said opposition figure Jude Celestin to local media, urging for the president to step down.
Though Haitian people have accumulated discontent with Moise’s policies for years, the current turmoil started in July 2018 when the president attempted to stop energy subsidies, a decision pressured by the International Monetary Fund. Though the plan was canceled, anger persisted and intensified some months later as accusations, involving Moise and his allies, emerged of corruption and misuse of public funds including financial aid received from Venezuela.
Friday’s protests come after weeks of a dangerously deepening crisis where Haitians are facing severe shortages of oil, power, and food, while senators from the opposition blocking the nomination of Moise’s last choice of Prime Minister William Michel and his new government.
Last Monday, another hearing to try to appoint the premier almost ended in tragedy when a senator from the ruling party opened fire to disperse an opposing crowd gathered in front of the parliament.
As the island country’s complex situation is becoming increasingly serious, fear of further violent protests and chaos is haunting Haitians who are awaiting for immediate actions to be taken.