On February 5th and February 7th, thousands of demonstrators, many of whom were university students, marched through Port-au-Prince with several demands. The demonstrations manifested in response to disagreements with various issues, including current gas prices, teachers’ salaries, the Martelly/Paul regime, and the present status of the 7,500-soldier UN mission (MINUSTAH). The protests paralyzed all government offices, banks, commerce, and schools, and they also halted traffic in the capital and its suburbs.
Two Days of Demonstrations, Two Days of General Strike
Kim Ives and Isabelle L. Papillon, Haiti Liberté
February 11, 2015
In the past week, two massive demonstrations and two days of a successful general strikes have rocked the government of President Michel Martelly and Prime Minister Evans Paul. The principal demands are for the lowering of gas prices and for the resignation of both Martelly and Paul. Demonstrators also call for the 7,500-soldier UN Mission to Stabilize Haiti (MINUSTAH) to leave immediately.
Thousands marched through the capital on Feb. 5 and again on Feb. 7, the 29th anniversary of the fall of the Duvalier regime in 1986. “The gas thief in the National Palace has to go!” demonstrators chanted at both demonstrations. “The gas thief in the Prime Minister’s office has to go! Martelly, the foreign colonists sent you to destroy the country! But the people are rising up, and you have to go! Do you hear that Obama? Do you hear that Bill Clinton?”
A 40-year-old bus driver spoke to a group of journalists as the demonstration on Feb. 5 was in the capital’s main square, the Champ de Mars. “Today, we are in the time of Hitler,” he said. “The Gestapo killed the Jews. In Haiti, Martelly’s police are killing Haitians. I am ready to die to rid the country of vampires of the ‘tètkale’ [bald-headed] regime. I have nothing to regret. I leave behind me only misery.”
University students, along with other popular and progressive organizations, are also part of the protests. On Feb. 5, they organized a sit-in outside the offices of the Ministry of Economy and Finance to force the Martelly/Paul government to lower fuel prices. The Haitian police’s Company for Intervention and the Maintenance of Order (CIMO) fired tear-gas canisters and water cannon at students at the Faculty of Ethnology and the Teachers College (École Normale Supérieure).
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