PORT AU PRINCE, CMC – At least six people were killed and several others injured on Sunday as opposition demonstrators took to the streets demanding the resignation of President Jovenel Moise. Protestors are also demanding a full investigation into the use of the funds under PetroCaribe, the Venezuela oil initiative to assist countries in the region.
“There is only one option. Jovenel Moïse is a political corpse that must be brought to the cemetery. It’s over for him. We cannot do anything with him anymore. He must leave without delay to avoid chaos,” said André Michel, one of the organizers of Sunday’s protest.
Police have confirmed the deaths occurred across Haiti and several arrests had been made.
Six deaths confirmed
The spokesman for the National Police of Haiti (PNH), Michel-Ange Louis Jeune, said six people were killed, five others injured and 20 arrests were made. But, the opposition organizers speaking at a news conference late Sunday said that 11 people had been killed, 47 wounded and 75 others arrested.
The Secretary of State for Communication, Eddy Jackson Alexis, while he congratulated the police and law enforcement authorities for their “professional work.” deplored and condemned the attacks against businesses, residences, private property and some diplomatic residences.
President Moise cancelled a planned trip with members of his cabinet to Cap Haitien on Sunday to commemorate the 215th anniversary of the Battle of Vertières.
The opposition later described the decision of President Moise as “cowardly.” The leader of the opposition Pitit Dessalines Party, Jean-Charles Moise, took credit for the decision of Moise to cancel his trip.
In a pre-recorded message, President Moise said “the symbolism of Vertières calls for dialogue, union and understanding”.
Hundreds took to the streets
On Sunday, several people took to the streets in the capital as well as in some of the provincial cities, burning tires, paralyzing public transport and waving black and red flags and demanding answers to PetroCaribe.
PetroCaribe is an oil alliance of many Caribbean states with Venezuela to purchase oil on conditions of preferential payment. The alliance was launched on the 29th of June 2005 in Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela. In 2013, PetroCaribe agreed for links with the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA), to go beyond oil and promote economic cooperation.
Haitians have been taking to the streets in recent months demanding an inquiry into the use of Petro Caribe funds.
Population urged to remain vigilant
Prior to the demonstrations, the opposition Famni Lavalas party called on the population to remain vigilant, amid reports that Nicolas Duvalier, the son of former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier, is being promoted by Haitian politicians abroad as the new leader of the country.
“The black and red flag of François Duvalier is being promoted. Stop irritating the people, stop putting the people’s struggle as a comedy,” Famni Lavalas said in a statement, adding “today the battle is not that of the color of the flag.
“The battle is to do what our ancestors did on November 18, 1803, to free the country from these authorities. The battle is to put no matter the cost at the head of the country a power of transition so that we can make a PetroCaribe trial and a National Conference to establish in the country a good political system that will allow Haiti to really develop,” the party said.
The party said it was urging supporters not to “fall into the trap of the division on the color of the flag, and to remain mobilized”.
The opposition has called on supporters to stay home on Monday, but Jackson Alexis, said the population should ignore the advice and that the police would be out in their numbers to ensure their safety.