Haiti: Social upheaval and protests

23 December 2019 15:42

Protesters in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Source: Dw.com

Haiti with a population of eleven million has a and a Human Development Index (HDI) of 0.5% is rated by international agencies as the poorest country in Latin America and the Caribbean. The average wage is 3 $USD a day.

Since October 2019, there has been a series of violent confrontations between the repressive forces of the Jovenel Moïse government and the Haitian people who are protesting against the current administration. Demonstrations began on 16 September after the announcement of an increase in the rates of gas, gasoline and electricity, and have expanded with demands for the resignation Jovenel Moïse. The people are asking for the formation of a unity government.

Since the protests at least 42 people have been killed due to violent confrontations. According to Blanc Innocent, President of FENATCO, BWI’s affiliate in Haiti, the number of killings has risen to the thousands. He stated, "The situation is very, very difficult nowadays. However, we will continue to fight to improve the working and living conditions of workers in Haiti."

Protestors have decried against the Government‘s recruitment of unemployed young workers in under-privileged neighborhoods and dressing them in uniforms to defend the police. The Police’s violent actions have resulted in at least 14 deaths and the burning of 17 homes.

Both President Innocent and Ricot Dolce Pale, General Secretary of FENATCO have been threatened and forced to take refuge to ensure their safety. Their lives were threatened when the trade unions joined several civil society organizations to sign a National Agreement calling for the resignation of the President and to initiate national dialogue to restrore democracy.

BWI Regional Representative of Latin America and the Caribbean Nilton Freitas pledged support for the Haitian trade unions. He stated, "The BWI will initiate a solidarity campaign to support Haitian trade unions, who are undergoing enormous political challenges due anti-union, violent measures implemented by the current government. We demand the government to end the immediate violence and begin constructive dialogue to achieve a quick and peaceful solution for of the current crisis for the sake of the Haitian people."