Conflicts & War

Haiti sees largest protests since Moise assassination

Port-au-Prince, Mar 29 (EFE).- Thousands of Haitians took to the streets Tuesday to denounce crime, inflation, and political paralysis in the largest episode of unrest since the brutal slaying last July of President Jovenel Moise.

While the largest demonstration, in Port-au-Prince, was largely peaceful, protests in the southwestern city of Les Cayes resulted in the death of at least one person – shot by police – and the burning of an airplane.

Numerous associations and grassroots groups called for a mobilization against the government’s failure to subdue the heavily armed gangs that effectively control large areas of this capital.

Activists here also blasted “interference” by what is known as the Core Group: the ambassadors of the United States, Canada, Brazil, Spain, and the European Union; and the representatives of the United Nations and Organization of American States.

The Core Group is particularly resented for its decision to support unelected interim Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who some suspect of having had a role in the assassination of Moise.

“Ariel Henry the UN: Murderers of Jovenel Moise,” read one sign, while protesters also held up images of Che Guevara and Haitian independence hero Jean-Jacques Dessalines.

Moving through the throng making their way to the National Palace were trucks equipped with loudspeakers blaring anti-government slogans and songs.

The route was lined with piles of tires that were set ablaze as the march progressed.

Les Cayes, a port city of roughly 72,000 people that traditionally has been isolated from the political tumult in Port-au-Prince, was the site of Tuesday’s largest disturbances.

But in this case, events in the capital had a role in the demonstrations, which targeted Antoine-Simon Airport in response to recent fee increases at a time when air travel is the only practical way to go from Les Cayes to Port-au-Prince because the only road runs through the gang-controlled district of Martissant.

At the terminal, some protesters set fire to a twin-engine aircraft.

The protesters then headed to the center of Les Cayes, where police resorted to tear gas and live rounds to disperse the crowd.

Haiti is the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere and roughly 4.9 million Haitians, or 43 percent of the population, are in need of aid, according to estimates from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA).

Thousands of Haitian textile workers protested last month to demand a higher minimum wage – currently the equivalent of $5 for eight hours – amid inflation of more than 26 percent. EFE mm-mp/dr

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