WASHINGTON / PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI —
The United States has expressed concern about the violent protests that have swept Haiti.
“We support the right of all people to demand a democratic and transparent government and to hold their government leaders accountable,” a State Department spokesperson for Western Hemisphere Affairs told VOA, “but there is no excuse for violence. Violence leads to instability, less investment, and fewer jobs.”
The comment comes after a 6th day of protests crippled the capital, Port-au-Prince and cities nationwide. At least one death was reported and there was looting and damage to businesses and cars.
Late Tuesday, a building that houses the Consulate of the Embassy of Peru and offices of the Embassy of Italy were broken into. A VOA Creole reporter who toured the facility after the incident saw a bullet casing on a stairway as well as overturned furniture and damaged office equipment.
Protesters have taken to the streets daily since February 7 to demand the resignation of President Jovenel Moise, whom they hold responsible for what they consider to be deplorable living conditions.
“There’s nothing more for Jovenel to do in the country except for resigning to avoid a blood bath,” lawyer Nathanael Lerine told VOA Creole in the southern city of Jacmel. “There is no place for Jovenel in the country anymore. All he does is lie. We need electricity 24/7. We need food on our tables instead of a leader who is lining his own pockets with cash. Inflation is rising— we’ve reached 100 Haitian Gourdes to the American dollar. Jovel has to go!”
Protesters are also demanding transparency from the government regarding the alleged misuse of $3.8 billion. The money, due to Haiti under the PetroCaribe oil alliances signed between Venezuela and Caribbean nations starting in June 2005, had been earmarked for infrastructure and social and economic projects.
Tuesday evening, the newly-elected President of the Haitian Senate, Carl Murat Cantave issued a statement saying he had met with President Moise and Prime Minister Jean Henry Ceant. Senator Cantave said he plans to meet with the economic forum on Wednesday and will continue to consult the members of the democratic sector and the Core group (comprised of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Haiti and ambassadors of the United States, Germany, France, Spain, the European Union and Brazil) to try to find a solution to the political crisis.
The Core group issued a communique Monday stating that it has taken note of the demands made by the protesters but deplores the loss of life and material damages incurred.
Meanwhile, protesters vow to continue marching until the president steps down.
The U.S. renewed its travel warning for Haiti Tuesday, which currently stands at Level 3 and advises travelers to reconsider planned trips to Haiti due “due to crime and civil unrest”.
VOA Creole reporters Matiado Vilme and Renan Toussaint contributed to this report from Port-au-Prince, Haiti; Nike Ching contributed from the State Department