Haiti protests continue despite U.N. troops’ bullets

Haitians in Port-au-Prince demand president resign.

Haitians in Port-au-Prince demand president resign.

All over Haiti, people by the tens of thousands are putting their bodies in the streets and their lives on the line. They are demanding the departure of President Michel Martelly and the 6,500 Minustah troops currently occupying the country under a United Nations mandate.

The resignation of Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe and 40 members of his cabinet on Dec. 13 made no difference to the size or intensity of the protests.

This struggle has been ignored or minimized by most of the corporate media. For example, the BBC on Dec. 16 commented on a protest by “hundreds of people in Haiti” that it said had turned “violent” when protesters threw rocks. Videos and photos of that protest show tens of thousands of Haitians in the street, demanding the departure of Martelly and Minustah.

A video shot at a Dec. 12 protest shows Minustah troops firing on protesters. (tinyurl.com/pyeeeq8) It has been viewed over 1 million times.

How the protesters reacted to this live fire is significant. They took cover but didn’t disperse and kept on chanting and throwing rocks at the soldiers. When an officer with a pistol began firing at protesters, a Haitian journalist with a microphone and camera moved towards the officer and asked him what he was doing. As the confrontation developed, several other journalists rushed forward and a soldier with a rifle extracted the officer.

At least one protester was killed Dec. 12 and a half dozen were so seriously injured that they had to be taken to the hospital.

December 12 and 13 saw large demonstrations outside Port-au-Prince in Cap Haïtien, Gonaïves, Ouanaminthe and Petite Goâve, where daily demonstrations for the last month have blocked National Road #2 to the south. In every city, the main demand is the departure of Martelly. In many places, using official cars for a fast getaway, Martelly supporters have fired on protests. A number of injuries were reported.

Radio Kiskeya has videos of large demonstrations that took place in Port-au-Prince on Dec. 18.

While the Haitian people have united to demand the departure of Martelly, U.S. Ambassador to Haiti Pamela White supports him. “We believe he was elected for a certain period of time,” she told Le Nouvelliste, the largest daily Haitian newspaper. “He must stay until his mandate ends.” His term is not up until May 14, 2016.

However, the U.S. still denies interfering in Haiti’s internal affairs.

Probably planning to rule by decree, Martelly has refused to hold the constitutionally required elections that would keep the Haitian parliament functioning. For public consumption, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called on Haiti to hold elections as soon as possible in order to put an end to the crisis.

Despite all the bloody Minustah and Haitian police attacks, and the political pressure the U.S. exerts covertly, the anger of the Haitian people is so strong that some optimism is being expressed.

“We are definitely witnessing the final days of the regime,” said Haitian Sen. Moïse Jean-Charles, a leader of the anti-Martelly protests. “We do not expect to celebrate Haiti’s independence on New Year’s 2015 with Martelly still in power. We are not going to negotiate now with Martelly. We simply want Martelly and Lamothe to go.” (Haïti-Liberté, Dec. 10-16)