At least 6,000 protesters have marched through Haiti’s capital to demand lower fuel prices and the ouster of President Michel Martelly.
The protest in Port-au-Prince on Saturday remained peaceful overall although police threw tear gas and dispersed a crowd that had burned rubbish and tires in the street to block traffic.
The protest, which diminished in strength as the afternoon wore on, was the latest in a series of demonstrations over recent weeks fueled by anger over fuel prices. Transport unions called for a two day strike to demand lower oil prices in the wake of lower fares on the international market. A public transport strike disrupted the operations of government offices, businesses and schools. The government recently lowered the price of gasoline by about six cents to $1.19 a litre and diesel prices dropped by about five cents to $0.94, but protesters say the reductions do not fully reflect the global drop in oil prices. “The cost of living is too high,” said Joel Pierre, a welder who joined Saturday’s protest instead of going to work.
“We need to let the government know that this is serious,” Pierre said.
Protesters also remain angry that Martelly began ruling by decree last month after parliament was dissolved. Long-delayed elections have not been held.
Protest leader Rony Timothée was shot and wounded on the evening of Saturday February 7, 2-15 by “CIMO” paramilitary Haitian police in vehicle 1-608. Mr. Timothee was recently released from prison after pressure was brought to bear on the Martelly-Lamothe regime by popular protests. He had resumed leading the street protests and was shot when he went to the home of a journalist for dinner after the day’s demonstrations.
Running battles between police and anti-government protesters in Port-au-Prince on Thursday the 5th after thousands marched against Haitian President Michel Martelly over fuel prices Monday.
On Monday police patrols opened fire and threw tear gas to disperse young people blocking roads with large rocks and tree branches.
“We demand that oil prices drop by 100 gourdes (about $2) per liter),” union leader Anderson Desroches told reporters.