Haiti gripped by violent protests, rage against President

A demonstrator marches to demand the resignation of President Jovenel Moise, in Port-au-Prince on Friday.
A demonstrator marches to demand the resignation of President Jovenel Moise, in Port-au-Prince on Friday.
AFP, Port-Au-Prince :
Angry protests rumbled through Haiti and its capital of Port-au-Prince Friday as thousands of people took to the streets against President Jovenel Moise, drawing tear gas from police as demonstrators looted and threw stones.
Protesters took over a police station in the impoverished Cite Soleil neighborhood, making off with sheet metal roofing, furniture and police protection equipment, only slightly slowed by the air wafting with tear gas.
“Now we are taking whatever we need to better our homes because we are tired of getting soaked when it rains,” said Steven Edgard, a protester.
In the early hours of the day, groups of young people prevented traffic from circulating on some of Port-au-Prince’s main arteries.
Lamp posts, burning tires, tree trunks and piles of trash were used to create barricades under the helpless gaze of police patrols.
Violent clashes later broke out as protestors threw stones in response to tear gas. Shots were also heard ringing out from the melee.
After the demonstrators were dispersed, several shops were looted in the wealthiest areas of the capital.
The day’s demonstrations were part of a larger wave of protests that have rocked Haiti throughout the week as the country’s inhabitants voiced anger over Moise, who is implicated in several corruption scandals.
Protestors rejected a “truce” proposed by Moise in a rare address broadcast to the nation on Wednesday, in which he appealed for national reconciliation and a unity government.
In June, judges of Haiti’s High Court of Auditors said in a report that Moise was at the center of an “embezzlement scheme” that had siphoned off Venezuelan aid money intended for road repairs, laying out a litany of examples of corruption and mismanagement.
The aid money came through Venezuela’s PetroCaribe program, which had allowed Haiti to buy petroleum products at discount and on credit but which was plagued by allegations of corruption.
However, the program has now been suspended for more than a year because of deteriorating relations between Venezuela and the United States.
The suspension has meant that Haiti’s long-suffering population has been faced with an extra burden: an ever-worsening fuel shortage that has resulted in closed service stations, rising prices and long lines to buy petrol.