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Haitian artists stage anti-government protest

October 14, 2019

Thousands of people have joined the Haitian art community to demand that embattled President Jovenel Moise step down. Crippling fuel shortages have sparked weeks of unrest in the impoverished Caribbean country.

Pastor Past, of the performance group Kominote Zan77, screams during a march demanding the resignation of Haitian President Jovenel Moise
Image: AP/R. Blackwell

Huge crowds sang and danced in the streets of Port-au-Prince on Sunday as part of an anti-government rally organized by the art community.

Protesters are calling for President Jovenel Moise to resign amid corruption allegations, rising inflation and food and fuel shortages. Many blame him for the economic crisis, but Moise has denied any wrongdoing.

Read moreFrom Haiti to Madagascar: The world's forgotten crises

Protesters in Haiti
Some of the protesters held up signs that read: 'Not our president' and 'We want a different Haiti'Image: Reuters/A.-M. Casares

Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, has been rocked by weeks of violent demonstrations that have shuttered schools and businesses and brought parts of the capital to a standstill.

"We have to change the system. We do not have access to housing, we have nothing to eat ... children cannot go to school," said Michelet, a protester who declined to give his last name, in an interview with the Reuters news agency. "The cost of living is increasing and Jovenel is not doing anything serious about it."

A Haitian protester stands in front of a row of riot police
Police were on standby as protesters marched through central Port-au-PrinceImage: AFP/C. Khanna

Unlike previous protests that erupted into clashes with police, Sunday's march remained largely peaceful. Almost 20 people have been killed and nearly 200 injured in the recent unrest, according to Haiti's National Network for the Defense of Human Rights.

Moise was elected in 2017 and has two more years left in his term. During his election campaign, he promised "food on every plate and money in every pocket," but the 20% inflation rate has slashed people's purchasing power. 

Around 60% of Haiti's population of 11 million live below the poverty line of $2 (€1.80) a day.

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nm/cmk (Reuters, AP)

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