By Joseph Guyler Delva
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (HCNN) — Thousands demonstrated on Friday in the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince to denounce the Obama administration’s support for Haiti’s government and leader they want ousted from power for lack of results in the Caribbean country where most people live on less than two dollars per day.
Protesters, mostly from former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s Lavalas Family party, marched several miles from the downtown area towards the US embassy in the Tabarre district, but were blocked by riot police from taking the route that gives access to the embassy, where they had planned to hold a protest.
The angry demonstrators chanted slogans hostile to the US ambassador to Haiti, Pamela White, and to President Michel Martelly, whom they accused of mismanagement.
“We are in our country and we have a right to demonstrate wherever we please, including in front of the US embassy” one of the organizers, legislator Levaillant Louis-Jeune, told HCNN.
“Now the police have become a political tool in the hands of government authorities and the US embassy,” he said.
When blocked, demonstrators threw rocks at riot police officers, who fired teargas to disperse the crowd. Sources close to the police told HCNN, the police were informed that some demonstrators had a plan to throw rocks at the embassy building.
Two demonstrators, who were throwing rocks, were temporarily held by police.
Marchers, some playing musical instruments and singing, said they will continue to mobilize until the departure of president Martelly.
“Down with Martelly! We want the US government to seize Martelly and take him away from the presidential palace,” shouted Maxon Mérilan, a militant from Aristide’s party.
“The US government has imposed Martelly on the Haitian people, today we ask them to take him away, if not we’ll overthrow him,” opposition Senator Moise Jean-Charles told HCNN as he walked with the crowd.
Demonstrators accused Ambassador White of interfering with Haitian internal affairs and influencing Haitian politics, while paradoxically calling on the US government to oust the country’s elected leader.
Protesters climbed high poles and took down posters of president Martelly from billboards they saw on their way to the embassy.
Demonstrators also chanted slogans against the neighbouring Dominican Republic because of the constitutional court ruling that stripped citizenship from tens of thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent, which measure they called xenophobic.
“We want to warn the Dominicans that we are the sons of Dessalines and we know how to fight,” said Josias Monchéry, holding a Haitian flag during the demonstration.
“We are telling them to stop persecuting and killing Haitians, otherwise we’ll show them what sons of Dessalines can do,” he said angrily.
Protesters also had very bitter words for the UN stabilization mission they accused of bringing a deadly cholera epidemic that killed more than 8,000 people and affected several hundred thousand others.
Another group of opposition militants went to lay a bouquet of flowers at Ruelle Vaillant, a site where several voters were massacred on November 29, 1987, during a presidential election disrupted by the military regime of the time.