Thirty-three years after Haitian President-for-Life Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier fled into exile, ending his family’s 28-year dictatorship and ushering in Haiti’s democratic transition, Haitians marked the day Thursday with widespread protests throughout the country.
Angry over their plummeting currency, frustrated by the rising cost of living and disappointed by decades of failed leadership and rampant corruption, protesters threw rocks, burned tires, attacked police stations and blocked roads in major cities while calling for the resignation of President Jovenel Moïse, who also marked his second anniversary in office Thursday.
Haiti National Police deputy spokesman Gary Desrosiers said police registered at least two deaths, 36 arrests and 14 injured cops — mainly from rocks — during the tension-filled day. It was Haiti’s third major anti-government protest in four months.
Unlike the Oct. 17 and Nov. 18 anti-corruption protests, however, where demonstrators demanded an accounting of $2 billion in allegedly misused money from Venezuela’s PetroCaribe oil program, Thursday’s demonstrations mostly centered on the economic malaise that has been gripping the country and led to some bakeries and other stores shuttering their doors earlier in the week in disgust.
“The slogan has changed. It’s not ‘Where is the PetroCaribe money?’ but ‘Give me the PetroCaribe money,’ ” said Humelaire Julian, 28, a university student who was among the thousands who took to the streets in Port-au-Prince. “And for some of us youth, there is another slogan still: Nou Bouke,” meaning “We’re fed up.” Continue reading