All over Haiti — from Cap-Haïtien in the north to Jérémie in the southwest and Miragoâne in the south, in Port-au-Prince, and even in the Tenth Department’s New York City, with its huge Haitian community — Haitians are coming into the streets to tell President Michel Martelly: “We’ve had enough, leave!”
One notable feature of the demonstrations is that teachers and their students are prominent. Teachers are demanding a decent rate of pay and that their salaries be paid promptly. Students are coming out in their support.
A major plank in Martelly’s program was free schools. School started Oct. 1 and government figures state that 772,000 pupils are in its free school program. But 3,228,000 children are not accounted for. (Haïti-Liberté, Oct. 3) This is a very important promise that Martelly hasn’t kept.
Hand in hand with the people’s perception of waste and corruption is the issue of hunger. Most Haitians live on less than $2 a day and are used to very tight budgets. But now, with the price of food, clothing and transportation rising rapidly, people can’t make ends meet. So they get out into the streets, even in small provincial towns like Miragoâne, and tell Martelly to solve this problem.
When Martelly held a rally at Brooklyn College in New York, after giving a speech at the United Nations on Sept. 26, hundreds of Haitians marched down Brooklyn’s Nostrand Avenue in the rain from the studios of Radio Panou, chanting “Down with Martelly! Down with corruption! Down with illegality!”
Haitian Sen. Moïse Jean Charles told Haïti-Liberté, “We are not only in the streets against the high cost of living, corruption, nepotism, bad governing, dictatorship, but equally to demand the departure of Martelly.” (Oct. 3). The senator was a leader of the coalition that brought thousands of people into the streets of Cap-Haïtien three times in two weeks.
A coalition of progressive groups in New York City has called for a demonstration on Oct. 12 to protest the U.N.’s renewal of a mandate for Minustah, the U.N.’s military force in Haiti that keeps the protests against Martelly under control.