Haiti protests turn violent

By Joe Colas

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (HCNN) — Thousands marched on Monday to call for the resignation of Haiti’s government leadership they accused of wrongdoing, while several thousand others praised the Caribbean country’s current administration for its efforts to improve living conditions of the most vulnerable.

Opposition demonstrators, mostly from former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s Lavalas movement, took to the streets of the capital Port-au-Prince and went through the upscale district of Petion-Ville, chanting anti government slogans and calling for the resignation of President Michel Martelly.

“Martelly should leave power because he is establishing a dictatorship in the country and he is not doing anything to solve the problems of the Haitian people,” opposition leader, Turneb Delpe, told HCNN on Monday.

“We’ll organize a new demonstration on November 29, as part of a series of protests to force President Martelly from power,” said Delpe, calling Martelly’s presidency a catastrophe.

Other opposition protesters, such as Senator Moise Jean-Charles and Assad Volcy, called on the US, Canadian and French governments to facilitate Martelly’s early departure to avoid more unrest.

On the other hand, scores of supporters of President Martelly also took to the streets to praise the current administration for “unprecedented efforts to address the problems of the most vulnerable.”

“It is for the first time we have a president and a government that set up a tuition-free education program for poor kids and a social assistance program benefiting the poorest,” said Marlene Jerome, 46, told HCNN, holding a poster of President Martelly during the pro-government demonstration.

“We see roads, hotels, airports and other infrastructure being built, we see vulnerable communities being rehabilitated, giving back their dignity to many who had always been neglected,” said Jerome, who is living in the government-sponsored newly renovated slum neighborhood of Jalousie.

Pro- and anti-government demonstrators clashed at one point, in Petion-Ville, where reciprocal stone-throwing took place.

A demonstration that was scheduled in Cap-Haitien was dispersed by police officers because organizers failed to reach an agreement with police authorities who had warned opposition militants.

The regional police chief explained that the Haitian police could not guarantee the security of protesters, given that they had to secure dozens of high-profile personalities, including Martelly and Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe, who were in Cap-Haitien.

They were attending the commemoration ceremony of the 210th anniversary of the Vertierres Battle that led to Haiti’s independence from French rule on January 1, 1804.

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