Thugs roam the streets, gasoline and food become scarce. Protesters in Haiti demand the resignation of head of government Moise.
Three masked men on a motorcycle Photo: ap
For weeks, thousands of people in Haiti have been protesting against the government. The violent riots have largely paralyzed public life. In the town of Les Cayes in the south of the Caribbean nation, gangs ransacked a number of stores and attacked merchants, the Metropole radio station reported Thursday. Hooded thugs controlled the streets, according to the report, and isolated stores were set on fire.
According to media reports, the capital Port-au-Prince is facing a humanitarian crisis because the main access roads have been blocked for about three weeks and food is scarce.
Clinics, orphanages and ambulances are only partially operational due to a lack of gasoline and clean water, among other things, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha) said. UN and nongovernmental aid programs could operate only on a limited basis because of the roadblocks. Many schools are closed, and an estimated two million children and young people currently have no access to education.
For months, opponents of the government have been demanding the resignation of President Jovenel Moise, who has since gone into hiding. They accuse the government of embezzling money from the Petrocaribe program, through which Haiti had received oil supplies from Venezuela at favorable conditions for years. But according to Katja Maurer of the human rights organization Medico International, Moise enjoys the support of the United States, Canada and the EU.
Haiti is considered the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. The state, with a population of around eleven million, is largely dependent on aid payments from abroad. According to Maurer, four out of five Haitians live below the subsistence level, and despair over the economic situation is enormous. In addition to rampant corruption, violent crime is also a major problem, which could escalate further in the wake of the protests.