PORT-AU-PRINCE – Hundreds of Haitians took to the streets of the capital and other cities in the country on Sunday to call for the resignation of President Jovenel Moise amid an ongoing wave of protests that turned violent and left several injured, including one journalist who got shot while covering the demonstrations.
In Port-au-Prince, the capital of the impoverished Caribbean nation, hundreds of people heeded calls by the Haitian opposition and social movements to continue protesting the Moise administration’s handling of the severe economic crisis and a corruption scandal that has engulfed the embattled president.
They were confronted by police equipped with riot gear.
Journalist Reynald Petit Frere from the Signal FM radio station was hit by a bullet while covering the demonstrations, a week after clashes between security forces and protesters left several dead, including another radio host, Petion Rospide.
Rospide, who worked for Radio Sans Fin (RSF), was killed on Monday when he was shot while on his way back home from the protest.
A large number of people also demonstrated in the city of Los Cayos, in the Southern Department, insisting on the immediate resignation of President Moise, who has been in power since Feb. 2017.
The protesters attacked several public buildings, threw stones and burned tires, paralyzing the third-largest city of the country.
Andre Michel, a spokesman for the Democratic and Popular Sector, told EFE that the protests would not stop.
“We are going to continue tomorrow and all week,” he said. “Jovenel does not have control of the country. The people have it, the people on the streets.”
Michel also rejected the overtures for dialogue put forward by the president.
During a speech at an anniversary ceremony for the National Police on Wednesday, Moise said that he would not resign and that he was willing to talk to everyone, including the radical opposition. He also urged people to keep calm so they could move towards constructive dialogue.
The protests erupted after the Superior Court of Auditors and Administrative Disputes published a report which said that one of Moise’s companies was involved in the alleged irregular handling of funds of the PetroCaribe program, through which Venezuela supplied oil to Haiti at below-market prices.
On May 31, the Superior Court sent its final report on the investigation alleged corruption at PetroCaribe to parliament.
The investigation concluded that the Haitian president’s company Agritrans received millions of dollars for several projects that were never carried out.
In addition, the report revealed the existence of a network within the government which obtained contracts for friends of former President Michel Martelly, and for former Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe.
The report by the Superior Court of Auditors and Administrative Disputes describes as “serious” the way several governments spent over $2 billion of the PetroCaribe funds between 2008-16, half of the revenue generated by the program during that period.