Haiti - More Mobilizations Against Martelly Government
- Several thousand people take to streets of Haiti capital in
anti-government protest By Associated Press, Published: September 30
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti � Several thousand people poured into the streets of
Haiti�s capital on Sunday to protest the government of President Michel
It was among the biggest demonstrations this year in Port-au-Prince against
the first-time leader as he tries to rebuild the impoverished nation
following a powerful 2010 earthquake that displaced more than a million
people and destroyed thousands of homes.
Demonstrators� complaints included the high cost of living, rising food
prices and allegations of corruption as they snaked through the poorer
neighborhoods Port-au-Prince. Some protesters carried small red cards to
suggest that Martelly has committed too many fouls since he was sworn in as
president in May 2011.
The Martelly government had no immediate public reaction to the protest.
Martelly, a pop music star before he turned to politics, presented himself
as an outsider when he ran for the presidency. He promised free schooling
and houses for people displaced by the earthquake. But some Haitians
complain that Martelly has fallen short of improving their lives in one of
the poorest countries in the world.
�The president has made so many promises but nothing has become a reality,�
protester Max Dorlien said. �It�s only a clique of his friends who are
The Sunday protest followed several weeks of mostly peaceful demonstrations
in the countryside, and more are planned for October.
It also marked the 21st anniversary of the first ouster of two-time
President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a former priest who returned to Haiti
last year after seven years in exile. Since his return, Aristide has
remained in his compound in the capital and out of the public spotlight,
fueling widespread speculation on his political relevance.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.
*The Mobilization Against Martelly Grows*
*by Isabelle Papillon
*[image: ...]For the second consecutive week, thousands of people of all
ages and walks of life took to the streets of Cap Ha�tien, Haiti�s second
largest city, on Sep. 21 to protest against President Michel Martelly and
Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe.
They denounced high-level corruption, the high cost of living,
Martelly�s �hijacking� of the electoral council, and government attempts to
evict peasants from plots of land on which they have lived and farmed for
almost two centuries.
After rallying at the Samarie roundabout in the morning,
thousands of people from Cit� Lescot, La Fossette and other Cap-Ha�tien
neighborhoods marched through the city, rallying in front of the central
government�s offices, known as the Delegation of the North, and at the
Courthouse. In front of the Delegation�s offices, pro-Martelly partisans
hiding inside the government building threw rocks at the protesters. The
demonstrators threw rocks back at them. The Haitian National Police (PNH)
and UN occupying troops (MINUSTAH) fired tear-gas canisters to disperse the
protesters, with only partial success.
When they met the marchers, some people were seen to
theatrically take off their pink bracelets, meant to signify allegiance
with the government, and throw them on the ground.
"*Martelly, Martelly, p�p N� a pap jwe,*" the demonstrators
shouted. (The people of the North do not play around.) "We do not want
imported rice, we want to work," they chanted. "We want to live in peace
in our country."
To ease spiking food prices, last week Lamothe announced that
the government would import 300,000 bags of rice.
Despite some brutality from the PNH and MINUSTAH, the
demonstration ended without major incident.
However, during the afternoon after the march had ended,
helmeted-policemen of the Security Unit to Guard the National Palace
(USGPN) arrived in Cap Ha�tien from Port-au-Prince and began shooting with
leveled weapons in different parts of the city. In retaliation, the people
threw stones and bottles.
The evening before the march, the city was also tense.
Burning-tire barricades, a traditional form of protest, went up in several
roads, especially near the neighborhoods of La Fossette, Cit� Lescot, and
Samarie. Police gunfire wounded at least three people. Thrown rocks and
bottles injured one policeman.
On Sep. 17, four days before the demonstration, the government
sent a delegation headed by Interior Minister Ronsard Saint-Cyr and the
State Secretary for Communication, Guyler C. Delva to try to buy off those
responsible for the mobilization in the North. The mission was a failure,
like a similar on to the southern city of Les Cayes the week before as
confirmed by the former Southern delegate Pierre Etienne France on a radio
in the capital this week (see *Ha�ti Libert�*, Sep. 19, 2012).
Also on Sep. 21, in the southern city of Mirago�ne, hundreds
took to the streets to protest corruption in the Martelly/Lamothe
administration and the high cost of living. Protesters said Martelly had
lied to the Haitian people when he promised change and a break from the
past. Instead, demonstrators said, he has resurrected the repressive
policies of the Duvalier dictatorship, which was overthrown 25 years ago.
Meanwhile, in Port-au-Prince, dozens of people
picketed in front of the Prime Minister�s office to demand that food prices
be lowered. Some chanted: "Down with Lamothe."
On Sep. 19, President Martelly accompanied UNESCO�s Special
Envoy to Haiti, Micha�lle Jean, on a brief visit to Port-au-Prince. The
unemployed who often gather to discuss their woes in public places quickly
organized an impromptu protest to voice their anger about Haiti�s
deteriorating economy as schools are about to open on Oct. 1. These
fathers, mothers, and youth said they were discouraged and disappointed
that the hope for change promised by Martelly is shrinking as time goes by.
"We are hungry and need jobs, not words to put us to sleep while the
gangrene of corruption spreads at the highest levels of power," said one
Protests nationwide are sharpening around these key issues:
corruption, exclusion, the high cost of living, the rise of arbitrary
power, the drift towards dictatorship, and the manipulation of Haiti�s
judiciary, legislature, and other independent institutions. Martelly
continues to maneuver in an effort to form a Permanent Electoral Council as
opposed to a compromise Provisional Electoral Council proposed by most
A major demonstration around these issues is being planned in
Port-au-Prince for the 21st anniversary of the Sep. 30, 1991 coup d��tat
against then President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a coup which many officials
in the current government, including the President, either participated in
Vol. 6, No. 11 � Du 26 Septembre au 2 Octobre 2012
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