Hajo Jafaaro, Contributor
As a Hatitan American, it pains me to see how such a strong group of people and community can be taken down and stripped from its own power repeatedly. Again and again, Haitian people have suffered so much loss and poverty they are getting fed up. Now, Haitians are protesting against their current government and things are getting out of control.
Haiti was the first enslaved country to gain independence, becoming the world’s first black-led republic and the first independent Caribbean state when it threw off French colonial control and slavery in the early 19th century. However, independence came at a crippling cost: Haitians had to pay reparations to France, demanding compensation for former slave owners.
Though Haitians gained power, they had it swept from their feet. Now, according to the Washington Post, daily protests are paralyzing Haiti. Here’s why: “more than half the population lives on less than $2.40 a month.” It frustrates me to hear how such a beautiful and strong country has turned into what Trump would call a “shithole” country.
The protests started Feb. 7 and have been going on for 234 days. The protests are in regards to demanding the resignation of the current President Jovenel Moïse, who is to serve another 3 more years. Nearly every day, there are protests in the capital city of Port-au-Prince. The country has shut down transportation links, shuttered business and closed schools. 18 people have been reported dead in clashes with police and other violence, but the numbers could be increasing everyday.
Haitians are fed up with spiraling inflation, a lack of safe drinking water, environmental degradation and food scarcity. Haitians have taken to the streets, blocking roads and highways, setting fires, attack property and looting businesses. The riots led to massive marches against the government.
If you think the economic status of the people was bad, you should see their government, which is also doing some pretty sketchy things. After an anti-corruption movement known as the “Petro-challengers” pressured Moïse to agree to a formal investigation, it was reported in May by Senate auditors that successive governments had misappropriated billions of dollars from PetroCaribe oil program, a transnational oil agreement between Venezuela and many Carribean nations. The auditors’ report implicated Moïse directly in a deferred payment plan that was supposed to help improve public services in the country but never did. And what happened to the millions of dollars received in aid since the earthquake in 2010? The status of aid for public services and infrastructure remains just as uncertain.
My family lives in the capital city and has been trying to stay indoors, not getting involved in the protesting as it has proven to be very dangerous and vicious. Imagine seeing your country, disaster after disaster and turned upside down. The people are victims of the corruption of their government, only knowing how to release these frustrations through vicious riots and protests.
This article was originally published in the November 8, 2019 issue.