Some of you may remember when Haiti burst into violent riots and protests in July over the unpopular president Jovenel Moise’s efforts to cut gas subsidies, which led to American aid groups being seriously endangered. The country has remained unstable since then:
Haitian National Police spokesman Michel-Ange Louis-Jeune said at least two people were killed during the tension-filled day and several others were wounded by gunshots including five people in Cap-Haitien, the country’s second largest city. The wounded were taken by police to a local hospital.
Early in the day, a Port-au-Prince police officer was injured when a rock was thrown and hit his head at Pont-Rouge near Cité Soleil. Police responded by firing shots in the air and were videotaped scrambling on the ground for cover. The officers had been providing security for Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, who was visiting the site with members of his government to lay a wreath, as is customary, to commemorate the death of founding father Jean Jacques Dessalines. He was assassinated at Pont-Rouge on Oct. 17, 1806.
When the violence erupted, the president, who had been met by crowds of protesters and some supporters, had departed in his motorcade. He was flown by helicopter to Marchand Dessalines, the city that Dessaline founded and Haiti’s first strategic capital after independence.
In Haiti, where the protests drew a crowd, that included many young people fed up with the country’s governance, rising cost-of-living and lack of jobs, the chant was the same. Donning black-and-white T-shirts with the Creole words Kot Kòb Petwo Karibe a, or “where is the PetroCaribe money,” some protesters also demanded an international audit of the government’s books. They chanted, “arrest the accusers” and called for Moïse’s resignation.
The PetroCaribe program allows Haiti and several other struggling Caribbean and Central American countries to acquire petroleum products at a discounted price and pay the costs over 25 years at a 1 percent interest rate. The savings are supposed to finance social and economic projects — which critics in Haiti say has not happened.