Life in Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, and its suburbs slowly began to return to normal Saturday after days of demonstrations against the country’s president and economic problems.
Public transportation was up and running, too, after protest leaders announced a reprieve. But some neighborhoods remained blocked because of leftover makeshift barricades.
Banks, supermarkets and stores were open for business, and residents were out on the streets, according to VOA Creole’s reporters. People lined up to buy waterin a Port-au-Prince neighborhood Saturday morning.
Protest leaders, however, said they would be back in the streets on Sunday to continue pressuring the president to resign.
A schedule sent to journalists listed plans for another week of demonstrations, and indicated protesters would march Sunday to Petionville, and then toward Pelerin, a wealthy suburb where President Jovenel Moise’s private residence is located. They also planned to walk to Peguyville, another wealthy suburb, where former President Michel Martelly has a home.
Ten days of protests under the theme “Operation Lockdown” resulted in several deaths and property damage. Protesters are demanding the president resign because of what they said was his administration’s lack of transparency, its corruption and its ineffective governance. They also decried skyrocketing prices and inflation.
There were reports that a protester set fire to a U.S. flag on Friday, in an expression of anger toward American policies seen as propping up the president and keeping him from resigning.
The opposition “Democratic Sector” issued a statement condemning the action. “The Democratic Sector reiterates its faith in Haitian-American cooperation and thanks the United States for welcoming hundreds of thousands of our brothers and sisters with open arms,” the statement said.
Address to the nation
On Thursday, Moise sought to reassure and calm the public and ask for its support during a nationally televised address. His pleas were largely ignored as protesters on Friday were back in the streets to demand he resign.
“My fellow Haitians, I’m asking you to continue supporting me. I want you to understand our destinies are linked. I know you have been victimized by the system,” Moise acknowledged. “But I’m asking you to open your eyes — I have the determination and courage to continue working to make life better for you, your children and your grandchildren.”
Moise said he had asked Prime Minister Jean Henry Ceant to make an announcement on the economic measures he was prepared to take immediately to improve living conditions.
But the announcement never materialized Friday, after the prime minister told a local radio station the president had pressured him to resign. Ceant said he had refused.