Haiti Paralyzed By Protests Demanding The Resignation Of The President

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Above Photo: From Resumen-english.org

Four months after the “blocked” country movement carried out in February protests with different sectors of the Haitian society large scale activities continue paralyzing large parts of Port-au-Prince.  Alterpresse reported on June 9 that tens of thousands of people protested against corruption and demanded the resignation of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse.

Most public and private institutions, commercial banks, supermarkets, and fuel stations are closed in the metropolitan area of Haiti’s capital city and the doors of the schools are closed.

The informal trade is working carefully with many small and medium-sized businesspeople taking their food products to public-run markets.

Prices of staple foods are increasing. The price of one 5 pound package of corn increased over 14% in one week, locally produced millet increased by 17% percent, while fruits like tamarind increased by 50%.

Scarcity and high prices are affecting all food staples with most people having to walk to try to find vendors with food since the strike began.

On Monday barricades with burning tires were in several key areas around  Port-au-Prince. Meanwhile tensions mount as Haiti’s National Police officers are present in fixed control points, others are patrolling the streets of the capital city. Except by some roads away of major freeways, as well as taxis and private vehicles, public transportation was missing in the streets on Monday, with more protests on the main roads to the International Crossroads Airport.

The escalation of protests demanding that the president must step down is because of new evidence that fingers Jovenel Moise in a second report of the audit of the Superior Court of Accounts and Administrative Litigation that accuses his company Agritrans of misappropriating funds of Petrocaribe—the subsidized oil program, created  in 2005, that Venezuela offers to several Caribbean states. Among other issues, the judges found that the government signed two contracts in 2014 with two different companies for the same road-repair project. The two companies, though with different names, had the same tax registration number and the same staff. One of the two companies, Agritrans, was chaired by Jovenel Moise, who was elected president in 2017. For the road-repair project, Agritrans—initially devoted to the production of bananas—received over $700,000 dollars from the State.

Since mid-August 2018, a movement known as “petrochallengers” has headed a campaign—through social media and different events—to demand responsibility for the misappropriated Petrocaribe funds. They mobilized hundreds of thousands of demonstrators on October 17, 2018 throughout Haiti.

Haitian bishops have also taken part in the Petrocaribe case and demanded to the end of government corruption and put on trial anyone who is implicated. In a petition they noted that in the case of Petrocaribe that the risk of corruption as an endemic problem threatens democracy and social peace.

The Haitian bishops petition stated that their “country is becoming impoverished systematically due to the perplexing greed of certain rapacious and thoughtless leaders who do not take into account people’s difficult situation. These leaders are not helping with the country’s progress nor its development. The Haitian people are suffering the ill-fated consequences because of these actions. At almost all levels of the national life some sort of versatile violence is taking place from which nobody is exempted.”