Since August 22, Haitians have been mobilizing against poverty, inflation, shortage of fuel, gang-related violence, and the devaluation of the national currency. (Photo: Radyo Rezistans/Facebook)
Since August 22, Haitians have been mobilizing against poverty, food insecurity, soaring inflation, fuel shortages, and widespread kidnappings and killings
Thousands hit the streets in Haiti once again on Monday, September 26, protesting amid the economic, political and social crisis in Haiti, demanding the resignation of de-facto Prime Minister and acting President Ariel Henry.
In the capital of Port-au-Prince, protesters organized two massive simultaneous marches to Henry’s official residence. Citizens gathered at the Champs-de-Mars public square and at the Airport Crossing, renamed by protesters as the Resistance Crossing, from there marching to the Prime Minister’s residence. Similar massive rallies were held in the Carrefour and Gonaïves communes. Demonstrations, protests, roadblocks, and sit-ins denouncing the Henry government were organized in almost all main cities.
Today in Carrefour, #Haiti near the capital. They’re chanting “Revolution” and “The river has flooded.” This is the 6th week of #Haiti‘s rebellion, and no UNSC can stop the river from flooding. https://t.co/3LmuEAI33o pic.twitter.com/tsA5GRdcZT
— Madame Boukman – Justice 4 Haiti 🇭🇹 (@madanboukman) September 27, 2022
The call for the protest actions was given by various civil society organizations, popular movements, and trade unions from diverse sectors as a part of the two-day national strike on September 26 and 27, with nationwide mobilizations on September 26 and 28.
For the past five weeks, since August 22, Haitians have been tirelessly mobilizing against increasing poverty and food insecurity amid soaring prices of essential commodities and basic services; acute shortage of fuel amid brutal increase in prices; widespread gang-related kidnappings, killings and violence; and the crushing devaluation of the national currency, the Haitian Gourde, against the $USD.
Anti-government protests have intensified since September 12, following the announcement that the national government was increasing the prices of gasoline, diesel and kerosene. According to reports from local media, the fuel prices have hiked by between 128% and 194%. The price of gasoline went up by 128%, from 250 per gallon to 570 gourdes (4.81 USD$), that of diesel by 189.80%, from 353 per gallon to 670 gourdes (5.65 USD$). Kerosene rates rose by 194.60%, from 352 per gallon to 685 gourdes (5.78 USD$).
For the past two weeks, stopping the suffocating rise in fuel prices has become Haitians’ second fundamental demand. The unconditional exit of de-facto PM Henry and his anti-human government remains the first. Haitians have blamed the international community for their dire situation, arguing that its support for Henry is keeping him in power, despite his lack of legitimacy.
In the beginning of September, over 100 social movements and organizations called on the US, the UN, the OAS and the countries that make up the Core Group to drop their support for the Henry government and stop interference in Haitian internal affairs. They demanded that Haiti’s right to self-determination be respected, as well as the right of Haitian people to mobilize.
Haitians are also demanding the application of the Montana Agreement. This Agreement advocates the installation of a transitional government to govern the country for two years, in order to recover the nation from the crisis caused by the ruling far-right Haitian Tèt Kale Party (PHTK), rebuild society, and organize elections for the next government.
On September 26, the left-wing Pati RASIN Kan Pèp la or the People’s Camp ROOT party emphasized that “there is no possible satisfaction of the Haitian people’s demands without a legitimate government.”
The Party called on its members, progressive forces and Haitians in general “to remain vigilant against all infiltration and counter-regulations that come out to divert the true demands of the people.” The party called on political leaders to refrain from using talking points that could mislead or confuse people and cause a riot, such as claims that “foreign military intervention is being prepared because Haitians cannot solve the country’s crisis,” or “it is gangs that are standing up in the street.”
The party also denounced the violent police repression against protesters, and the impunity police enjoy in such acts. Lastly, the party expressed its support for all mobilizations that defend the rights and interests of the Haitian people.
The Haitian People Need a Socialist State
Since August 22, tens of thousands of Haitians have been taking to the streets across the country demanding the resignation of de-facto Prime Minister and acting President Ariel Henry. (Photo: Madame Boukman/Twitter)
Tens of thousands of Haitians have been taking to the streets, demanding the resignation of Ariel Henry. To understand the situation on the ground, we spoke with Haitian journalist Jean Waltès Bien-Aimé
Since August 22, under the banner of “Rise Up for Another Independence,” tens of thousands of Haitians have been repeatedly taking to the streets in different parts of the country, demanding the resignation of de-facto Prime Minister and acting President Ariel Henry. Protesters have criticized that during the past one year of his governance, the economic, political and social crisis has aggravated in the country.
On Wednesday, September 7, in a new day of nationwide anti-government protests, tens of thousands of citizens hit the streets in the capital Port-au-Prince and other major cities in rejection of widespread insecurity, severe scarcity of fuel, high cost of living, and the devaluation of the national currency, the Haitian Gourde, against the USD.
In Port-au-Prince, protesters organized roadblocks with burning tires, rocks, and trucks. They carried out a massive rally from the Champs-de-Mars to Pétion-ville via Delmas, and marched past 11 commercial banks and roads leading to Henry’s official residence, raising slogans such as “Ariel, you have to go!,” “Get out, Ariel! Get out, Ariel!”, etc.
Haitian journalist Jean Waltès Bien-Aimé, of Radio Resistance and Haitian Popular Press Agency told Peoples Dispatch that “the fundamental demand of the people who are taking to the streets is the resignation of de-facto Prime Minister Ariel Henry…people will remain in the streets until he resigns from power,” because “Ariel Henry is not a legitimate leader, since he assumed office after de-facto president Jovenel Moïse, who had overstayed his term.”
For weeks, many thousands of Haitians all across the country have taken to the streets, protesting rising prices, fuel shortages, and calling on de facto PM Henry to resign. This is from Port-au-Prince earlier today, courtesy of @viliusyvon. pic.twitter.com/JVfHBcTRSW
— Jake Johnston (@JakobJohnston) September 7, 2022
In the country’s northern and southern region, protesters paralyzed various coastal cities such as Jérémie, Les Cayes, Miragoâne, Petit-Goâve, Jacmel, Port-de-Paix, and Cap-Haïtien, among others, condemning gang-related kidnappings and killings, soaring prices of essential commodities and basic services, and the acute shortage of fuel.
“When there is trouble between rival gangs, people suffer. Haitians have been protesting against kidnapping, insecurity, and gang violence. People have been protesting against the high cost of living and the Henry government. Activation of gangs is part of a strategy to prevent Haitian people from taking to the streets,” said Bien-Aimé.
In several cities, protesters were violently repressed by the police. Police officials fired tear gas, rubber bullets, and water to disperse crowds. According to reports from local media, at least one person was killed and two were injured in Port-au-Prince in police repression. There have been unconfirmed reports of injuries from the cities of Jérémie, Las Cayes, and Jacmel, where protesters clashed with police.
You won’t see this on CNN. Petit Goâve, #Haiti on its third week of non-stop anti-government protests. History proves that Haitians always revolt when met with oppression. Their plan since the 2004 coup was to destroy the resistance. That failed. pic.twitter.com/ot78RHUuyr
— Madame Boukman – Justice 4 Haiti 🇭🇹 (@madanboukman) September 7, 2022
Earlier this week, on Monday, September 5, members of various social organizations and trade unions as well as citizens in general had been on the streets of Port-au-Prince, Cap-Haïtien, and Gonaïves, among others, demanding better living conditions.
According to official reports, inflation in Haiti has reached 30% and hit a 10-year high. The cost of basic food products has increased by more than 50%, and for some products by 80%. In the illegal market, petrol is sold for up to 15 USD a gallon while official service stations have been closed for months. The national currency, Gourde, has also been rapidly depreciating. It has lost over 40% of its value so far this year. The exchange rate fluctuates on a daily basis, and has been hovering above 100 gourdes per 1 USD.
Since 2018, Haiti has been going through a grave social, political, institutional, and economic crisis with people tirelessly organizing and mobilizing against the US-backed corrupt and neoliberal regimes. The situation has worsened since the assassination of its de-facto president Jovenel Moïse in July 2021, with armed gangs growing more powerful, and growing uncertainty over the possibility of general elections being held.
While Ariel Henry has promised to organize general elections by the end of this year, Bien-Aimé said that “Henry doesn’t have the will to organize elections,” and pointed out that “activation of criminal gangs is his strategy to stay longer in power.”
He added that “Haitian people are democratic people who believe in elections, but they don’t want elections organized by Ariel Henry because he is a de-facto prime minister, and he cannot organize free elections. Ariel Henry was put in power as a present from the US embassy.” Bien-Aimé also stressed that “the conditions to hold elections at the moment do not exist because the ruling far-right Haitian Tèt Kale Party (PHTK) party believes in fraud,” referring to the electoral fraud that was committed in the October 2015 elections.
For the last two weeks, Haitians have been demanding a new transitional government to draw and implement a roadmap to resolve the political crisis in Haiti and renew the country’s leadership democratically.
Several unions, social movements and political platforms have warned that they would intensify the protests in coming days until their demands are satisfied.
Bien-Aimé emphasized that “Haitian people do not need a leader at the moment. Haitian people need a socialist state.” “We have had a lot of experience with leaders, and those experiences do not bring about any serious change. We need to change the state we have. We have a bourgeois state. What we need now is a people’s state,” he said.
Regarding the people’s demand to have a new transitional government, Bien-Aimé said that “the ultimate goal of the ongoing street demonstrations is the application of the Montana Agreement, also called the August 30 Agreement.”
Following Jovenel Moïse’s assassination, over 70 trade unions, social organizations, popular movements and political parties came together and formed the Commission to Search a Haitian Solution to the Crisis (CRSC) to figure our an answer to the political crisis facing the country. On August 30, 2021, they reached a consensus and signed an agreement on a plausible people-centric democratic transition formula out of the crisis. It was decided that a transitional government, headed by a new interim president and a new interim prime minister, would govern the country for two years, recover it from the deepening institutional crisis caused by the PHTK administration, rebuild the society, and then organize elections for the next government.
On January 30, 2022, Haiti’s National Transition Council (CNT) elected economist and former governor of the Bank of the Republic of Haiti Fritz Alphonse Jean as Haiti’s new interim president, and former senator Steven Irvenson Benoit as the new interim prime minister. The duo was set to administer the country for a transitional period of 24 months, beginning this February 7, 2022. However, the alternative process was blocked by the US, the UN, and the Core group, which sided with the Henry government and its allies.
Bien-Aimé pointed out that “within the Montana agreement, all national sectors were well represented, and that is the reason why the US Embassy, the Core group and the reactionary bourgeoisie blocked the process of Montana agreement because it is a popular process.”
He stated that “the whole country is now rising up in struggle against imperialist interference in the political decisions of the country. Haitian people are going to keep fighting, like I said before, they are going to keep fighting until their demands are satisfied. And people never fail. The victory is going to be on Haitian people’s side.”
Bien-Aimé added that “Haitian people are on the way for a popular uprising to overthrow Henry’s puppet government and the US and the UN neo-colonial government. That is why the people are calling it a new revolution. We led the first one in 1804, now we are going for a second one. Haitian people are going to overthrow this neo-colonial government, throw the Core group out of the country, and establish a popular state in the country, a socialist state in the country. Haitian people are historical people. We are used to making history.”