Haiti Protests Over Inflation, Fuel Shortages, and a Quiet Prime Minister
Haiti was the scene of protests on Monday, August 22nd as thousands of people made their way onto the streets. The protests took place in the capital city of the country, Port-au-Prince, as well as other cities such as Cap-Haitien, Petit-Goave, and Jacmel.
The protesters marched onto the streets and blocked roads with burning barricades. People gathered to march in protest against high rates of crime and inflation. During their protests, they called for Prime Minister Ariel Henry to step down.
The protests fell on the same day as the anniversary of the slave uprising of 1791 that launched Haiti’s long struggle to gain independence from France. Many of the protesters wore shirts that said “independence” or “endepandans.” Police acted against the protests, using tear gas as they attempted to disperse the crowds and put an end to the demonstrations.
The Caribbean country has been blighted by worrying rates of violent crime with rampant gangsterism and kidnappings. According to reports, gangs are in total control of certain areas of the country and the government is inadequately equipped to deploy law enforcement authorities there.
These areas have seen high rates of violence with numerous killings reported as gangs fight over territory. This has led to the deaths and displacement of thousands of civilians. There are reports of a weekend during which eight people were killed. Of those eight people, three were from one family with a mother and her daughters being burnt alive.
More insight on protest in Haiti…
The cost of living has risen as well with a 10-year high record of inflation sitting at 29%. Haiti’s Central Bank governor Jean Baden Dubois touched on this as he also mentioned how the economy of the country would contract by 0.4% this year.
During a press conference, Dubois said, “If I take the numbers from June 2022, inflation has reached 29%,” referring to annualized inflation rates in the country. “It’s the highest rate we’ve had in 10 years.” The price of food has also increased, with the price of rice more than quadrupling.
Matters have not been made easier by the fact that gasoline has been in low supply, causing the price to go up. The lack of fuel has led to several people losing their jobs. Haiti’s fuel stocks have dropped due to importers failing to bring in fuel due to a lack of subsidy payments.
The fuel importers are paid subsidies, which keeps the price of fuel low. This reduction in fuel stocks has led to an increase in price with a gallon of fuel costing $15 a gallon. “I need the gas to work,” 28-year-old moto-taxi driver Garry Larose said as he protested. “I have a family to feed, school to pay [for].”
The people of Haiti want to see Prime Minister Henry gone. “Families don’t know what to do,” said demonstrator Lionel Jean-Pierre as fellow protesters around him chanted: “If Ariel doesn’t leave, we’re going to die!”
Haiti has experienced political instability since the assassination of President Jovenel Moise in July 2021. Henry was placed as Prime Minister by Moise. He previously faced protests from demonstrators who carried out a sit-in outside his official residence.
“On behalf of the government, I renew my firm determination to relentlessly combat insecurity,” Henry wrote on Twitter on August 22nd, vowing to act against the continued violence in the country.