10 Things To Know About The Anti-Corruption Marches In Haiti
Food supplies are drying up in shops in Port-au-Prince. A hospital was forced to make the terrible decision of who should get its last oxygen tank. The deepening political and economic crisis in Haiti has reached disastrous levels and the country is on the brink of collapse.
But how did they get here?
In the last few months, protestors allied to a surging opposition movement have demanded the removal of President Jovenel Moïse over corruption and embezzlement allegations.
The protests have turned violent and streets have been barricaded across the country, rendering roads impassable and creating a sprawling emergency. But President Moise has stayed put.
So far more than 35 people are estimated to have died in the protests and 200 were injured, according to Amnesty International.
Here are the key things you should know about the protest marches in Haiti.
Violence erupted after a corruption report was released
Violence in the country has been increasing after months of protests that intensified with a highly critical report in May on the so-called Petrocaribe affair. This involved the disappearance of about $2.3 billion in an arrangement to buy cheap Venezuelan oil, The Guardian reported.
Instability started in 2015
The instability began with a failed electoral process and fragile transitionary government back in 2015 as the president was elected with a voter turnout of less than 20 percent.
The Venezuela connection
The end of the Venezuelan oil supply has contributed to a fuel crisis in Haiti, which only worsened due to exclusive contracts with companies that refuse to deliver new shipments. Haiti cannot pay its outstanding debts to the tune of $35 million.
The majority of protestors are 18-to-25 years old
Unemployment in Haiti stands at over 80 percent with many young people affected. These young people largely supported and believed the promises of the current political party in power, but have been disillusioned. The core group of protestors comprises people between the age of 18 and 25 years old who came of age after Haiti’s devastating 2010 earthquake, from which the country has struggled to recover.
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Protests have been on for more than a year
Protests have been on and off throughout Haiti since July 2018, but they escalated to another level on Feb. 7, 2019.
Demand for helicopter evacuations for foreign workers and U.S. mission teams
There has been a great demand for helicopter evacuations of foreign workers and American mission teams. While helicopter evacuations are extremely expensive, they are the only way out of the protest lines where roads are impassable. Many people are still stranded and unable to evacuate from their current locations inside Haiti.
Haitian officials have not confirmed any casualties
Despite many reports suggesting that there have been casualties in clashes over the past few weeks, Haitian officials have yet to comment or substantiate the figures claimed by rights organizations. The United Nations, which says that “several have died” in recent clashes, has asked all parties to refrain from violence.
The latest round of nationwide protests, dubbed “Operation Lockdown” by organizers, left at least 18 people dead, Vice reported.
Food, water and money shortage
The protests have aggravated food shortages in grocery stores. ATM machines have gone out of service as Haitians try to stock up on supplies before complete chaos ensues. A water crisis is rapidly worsening, according to the director of Haiti’s National Directorate of Potable Water and Sanitation.
The opposition has formed a committee to “set up a transitional government,” and is calling for the U.S. to force the resignation of the president. Haitians want the U.S. to put a transitional government in place to restore peace in the country. Silence from the U.S. related to the protests is seen by some Haitians as support for Moise.