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Haiti Anti-Corruption Protesters Demand President's Departure

Haitians protest against corruption and to ask the president to resign in Port au Prince, Haiti, March 29, 2019.

Hundreds of demonstrators returned to the streets of Haiti's capital Friday to protest corruption and to ask for President Jovenel Moise's resignation. Protesters set fires in the street and wrapped themselves in red, white and blue flags as they marched uptown at midday.

A group of opposition parties had called for nationwide protests to show their dissatisfaction with the government and the failure to prosecute those implicated in the mismanagement of PetroCaribe oil profits.

The alleged misuse of $3.8 billion has sparked protests for months. 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.

"We're asking the people to demand the president resign, replace the parliament with new lawmakers and create a new system (of government), a new model for Haiti where everyone's rights are respected," former opposition Senator Moise Jean-Charles of the Pitit Dessalines party (Dessalines' Children) told VOA Creole.

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March 29 also coincides with the anniversary of Haiti's Constitution.

"The country needs a new constitution. The 1805 Constitution more accurately reflects everything the protesters are asking for," he said. "The 1987 Constitution - with or without the current amendments - does not reflect our reality today."

Protester Josue Blanchard, a sculptor who was marching with a group of protesters in the Delmas neighborhood of the capital said people want a better life.

"There are things we consider as imperatives - it's clear that there's a huge social and economic disparity where people can't even afford health care. Many are not working. So I think the anniversary of the constitution is a significant date for the young people and for citizens in general because we don't feel we are living the way we should be living," Blanchard told VOA Creole.

At one point in the protest, demonstrators threw rocks, damaging cars parked on the road, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, March 29. 2019.
At one point in the protest, demonstrators threw rocks, damaging cars parked on the road, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, March 29. 2019.

VOA Creole's reporter in the southwestern town of Les Cayes said the protester turnout was much lower than organizers had hoped for.

Earlier in the week, lawmakers from the president's Pati Ayisyen Tet Kale (PHTK) sought to discourage protesters from taking to the streets, and law enforcement officials warned that anyone caught committing crimes would be brought to justice.

Hernst Eliscar contributed to this report from Les Cayes