PORT-AU-PRINCE — At least one person has died and two planes were set ablaze during widespread demonstrations across Haiti on the 35th anniversary of Haiti’s constitution Tuesday. About 40 groups had called for the demonstrations to demand more security and other solutions to the country’s various crises.
“We strongly condemn [Prime Minister] Ariel Henry, who spent more than eight months as prime minister and showed that he’s incapable of providing security in the country,” said Ebens Cadet, spokesperson of Nou Konsyan, an political activist group in Port-au-Prince.
According to Juno7, one person was killed and several others injured and an airplane caught fire in Les Cayes. The identity of the person killed has not been revealed.
In the capital city, according to local media, the protesters marched from the Champ-de-Mars and wound their way across numerous neighborhoods. Marchers also demanded that Henry do more to address gang violence and the higher cost of living, and that he resign.
In Jacmel, residents took to the streets to express their frustration with the socio-economic and political problems plaguing the country. Those protesters set fire to the debris of a plane recently crashed on the runway of the Jacmel aerodrome, local daily Le Nouvelliste reported.
Carrying signs with their demands, the demonstrators demanded that Henry be held accountable for the country’s management and to act to stop gang activities in the country. The demonstrators vowed to continue with this protest movement “until the country is free of gang activity” and becomes more affordable to live in.
In Les Cayes, thousands of protesters who marched peacefully entered the local airport, despite seeing police firing tear gas. The demonstrators approached the plane and pushed it down the tarmac. The plane was later seen on a street, apparently near the airport, where it was set on fire.
Henry said via Twitter that he condemned the incident as “subversive” and called for the perpetrators to be investigated.
“Ni a-tè, ni an-lè (No ground, no air)”
In Les Cayes and Jacmel, protesters also burned two planes because, they said, local airlines are capitalizing on the land travel being too unsafe with armed gangs blocking Martissant, a key town whose roads connect the South to Port-au-Prince, Cadet said. Airlines have been charging about $100 for travel between Port-au-Prince and Les Cayes, a move that residents found unconscionable and yet another indication of people with means having more, unfair access.
Haiti’s southern region is still in the midst of recovering from a deadly earthquake that struck last August and several others that have since shook the towns.
“Si pa gen a-tè, pap gen an-lè.” That’s the cry many protesters shouted in Creole while the planes burned. It means in English, “no ground [travel], no air [travel] either.”
More protests were held in Port-au-Prince Wednesday.
Jean-Paul Saint-Fleur contributed to this report from Jacmel.
Correction: An earlier version of this story quoted an activist saying that police were responsible for the protester’s death. It is unclear how the protester died.