PORT-AU-PRINCE – Hundreds of Haitians turned out for protests Wednesday in this capital and in the southern port of Les Cayes to demand trials for officials who diverted funds from a Venezuelan program that supplies crude oil to Caribbean and Central American nations on generous terms.
In Port-au-Prince, protesters marched toward the National Palace, where they were dispersed with tear gas by police, who also injured at least three people with rubber bullets, according to the demonstration’s organizers.
The Caribbean nation has been rocked by protests against corruption and the PetroCaribe case during the last week, and new protests in the capital and in the northern city of Gonaives have been announced for next Sunday.
“The mobilization will continue on the streets, on social media, on the walls,” Lucien Raymond, one of the protesters in Port-au-Prince, told EFE.
The young man said that Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, “has a historic responsibility” to confront the scourge of corruption, adding that what happened with PetroCaribe “is part of a culture of impunity that is destroying the country.”
President Jovenel Moise said last week that the investigation into the embezzlement of PetroCaribe funds will be a priority once congress ratifies a new prime minister.
The Haitian parliament published a report last year blaming former senior officials for irregularities in the use of the PetroCaribe funds, but no one has been prosecuted.