Last week Sunday’s massive demonstration has crippled the capital city of Port-au-Price and other major cities across the country. On Monday, the affected cities were barely returning to normal. According to various reports, schools and commercial activity in the metropolitan area are at a standstill, gas stations and supermarkets are closed for business. Barriers have been erected in such areas as Carrefour Shada near Croix-des-Missions, as well as near Bon-Repos and Lilavois in the North of the capital. These barriers at such strategic places has made it difficult to travel around the capital. There are other barricades erected with burning tires across the capital that few taxi motos are able to move around, public transport is almost at a standstill. Armed security forces have been patrolling various neighborhoods and according to the police, there were six casualties on the day of the demonstrations, but organizers of the demonstration insist that there were 11 casualties. In Jacmel, Cayes, and Cap Haïtien, there have been violent recorded clashes; confrontations with security forces on Barranquilla Street in Jacmel resulted in police firing tear gas in to the crowd, as the demonstrators pelted the police with stones. The confrontation has been much the same across the country with demonstrators burning tires and throwing stones at the police who return fire with tear gas and occasionally, live ammunition. Besides the demand for justice in the PetroCaribe fund embezzlement saga, the demonstrators are calling for the government to step down.
Leaders of the three branches of government met at the Palais National on the day after the demonstrations to evaluate the current socio-economic and political climate of the country and attempt at finding ways to move forward. In a communique to the press, President Jovenel Moïse, Prime Minister Jean Henry Céant, the leaders of the two legislative houses; Joseph Lambert and Gary Bodeau, and Justice Jules Cantave, President of the Cour de Cassation met and agree that the Executive should follow dialogue with all sectors of the society. Other issues agreed upon on is the resolution of problems related to security and social appeasement though the administration did not provide any plan of action or date on which such efforts will be put to action. The leadership group agree on attempting different methods to find a truce that would allow for the day to day functioning of the government. Observers believe the government only agreed to dialogue with the various players in the political life of the country as they see the popularity of the President at an all-time low and available options to deal with demonstrators are increasingly limited.
Elsewhere, the leader of the Pitit Desalines party, Moïse Jean Charles, has announced that he is heading to the UN to discuss issues regarding the growing crisis in the country. Stating that the invitation has been extended over a month ago, he will use his time in New York to ask for aid from the UN to retrieve the PetroCaribe funds that was embezzled and other resources that have been pilfered during the recent past administrations. He also plans to seek justice and reparation for cholera victims and women who have been raped by the UN Peacekeepers during the time of the MINUSTAH. He is said to be satisfied with the impact of the demonstrations thus far on the government and hope that more demonstrations will be planned until the government of Jovenel Moïse is removed from power.
In his address celebrating the 215th anniversary of the Battle of Vertières, President Jovenel Moïse called for a dialogue and national unity in his address marking the occasion. In the pre-recorded speech marking the occasion, the President asked the people not to be manipulated by those distractors who are bent on derailing the nascent democracy that is taking hold in the country. According to Mr. Moïse, the “battle is over and today is the time for us to come together to break the chains of underdevelopment, black out and misery”. He asked the people to come together to build a Haiti that will be the pride of our ancestors and children in the future to come. He added “this 18th of November should be a day to honor the memory of our ancestors and show the whole world that we are grateful for their sacrifice.” What is noticeable is that the President did not go to Cap Haïtien to celebrate the occasion but simply laid a wreath at the Musée du Panthéon National in memory of the heroes of independence.
Meanwhile, the security situation in the capital in particular and throughout the country in general is increasingly alarming, especially in the La Saline neighborhood where gangs have practically held residents hostage as they fight their turf wars. The Secretary of State for Public Safety, Ronsard Saint Cyr, announced that there was a recent bloody confrontation between rival gangs and security forces have been mobilized to control the area. The conflict pits rival gangs for control of the Croix-des- Bossales market and dates back a few years, because of disagreement between two groups of friends that degenerated into violent conflict exploited by political rivals.
Elsewhere, a prisoner was killed, three others and three police officers were injured during an attempted jail break at the d’Anse-à-Veau prison on Sunday, November 18, 2018. According to the spokesperson for the national police, Gary Desrossiers; the prisoners were forcing their way through the barrier of the jail when reinforcements from the departmental security forces were called in to maintain order. The escape was planned in response to the way the inmates were being harshly treated, according to the mayor of the town, Jean Marie Fouché., who then called on the Departmental authorities and the police to secure the building which houses more than 200 prisoners.
Finally, former Minister of Interior, Reginald Delva, is said to have been surprised and shocked by the presiding judge’s decision to implicate him in the case of the arms and munitions seized at St. Marc. He was shocked because he was not even interrogated in the matter. He confirmed that he signed an authorization for a security company in 2015, while still the minister but during the time of the seizure in 2016, he was no longer in office. But in order to make sure all the details of the case is known, he will make himself available to the justice system.