Haiti Protests Turn Violent, Demand President to Resign

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This Monday and Tuesday thousands of protesters gathered in the capital city of Port-au-Prince to demand the resignation of President Michel Martelly. Police were forced to intervene and fire tear gas at protesters, who in turn responded by throwing stones. Protesters accuse Martelly’s government of widespread corruption, rising living costs, and for not doing enough to alleviate poverty.

People of Haiti blames government

This protest marks only the most recent in a string of increasing demonstrations against the government. Despite the massive amount of aid that poured into Haiti after the Earthquake in 2010, conditions on the ground remain dire and poverty is rampant. Many Haitians now blame the government for the deteriorating conditions. Much of the anger is directed at President Martelly.

Mr. Martelly enjoyed a long and successful career as a musician and spent much of his time abroad. Martelly has drawn numerous criticisms in his short tenure. Beyond the corruption charges, many wonder if Martelly is truly even “Haitian” any more. After starting his successful music career, Mr. Martelly largely lived in the United States and owned several houses in Florida. Given his extensive living time in Florida, some critics have accused him of being out of touch with conditions in Haiti.

Protests have been happening in Haiti for more than a year, but conditions seem to be worsening while Mr. Martelly has thus far refused to step down or cave into demand. Frequent clashes between protesters and the police force have resulted in numerous injuries. At least one person was killed in protests on Monday.

While Mr. Martelly may have to shoulder a large portion of the blame, many international observers have blamed the United Nations and other foreign actors for botching the recovery in the wake of the massive Earthquake that all but destroyed the capital city and resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. Poor coordination, squandered resources, and the introduction of foreign diseases top a long list of accusations against the international community.

Condition in Haiti

Haiti itself has long held the distinction as the poorest country in the Western hemisphere. Rampant poverty, deforestation, disease, corruption, and numerous other issues afflicted the country even before the earthquake. In the aftermath of the earthquake, however, conditions have become even more unbearable.

Haiti was supposed to hold a parliamentary election this year, however, it appears that the government will miss this milestone. The government has already been accused of delaying elections, which will probably result in Martelly losing a considerable amount of his power. This election will fill about 1/3 of Haiti’s 30 member senate and numerous municipal posts.

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