Has the Mobilization against Martelly Reached a Point of No Return?

by Yves Pierre-Louis (Haiti Liberte)

Workers, peasants, teachers, and
the unemployed continued their protests across Haiti this week. Both in the
capital, Port-au-Prince, as well as in many provincial towns, Haitians are
rising up in growing numbers against President Michel Martelly, while
repression claims a growing toll of dead and wounded.
crowds are now calling on President Martelly to step down, accusing his
government of embezzlement, waste, corruption, nepotism, drug trafficking,
lying, bluffing, and failure to keep its promises.
a spreading wildfire, people took to the streets in Gonaïves, Nippes, Jérémie,
Les Cayes, Petit Goâve, Trou-du-Nord, Fort-Liberté, Belladère, and
Port-au-Prince, protesting the high cost of living and unemployment while
demanding decent salaries, observance of a scheduled minimum wage hike, job
creation, as well as electricity, potable water, river clean-up, and the
building and repair of infrastructure.
had two major demonstrations. The first, on Tue. Oct. 2, was organized by the
Movement for the Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity of Haitians (MOLEGHAF), a
grassroots organization based in the capital’s Fort National neighborhood.
Hundreds of MOLEGHAF’s activists, supporters, and sympathizers marched through
the city before rallying, as they regularly do, outside the offices of the
Social Affairs Ministry to demand improvement of the horrific living conditions
in most of the capital’s poor neighborhoods.
second demonstration, on Fri., Oct. 5, was carried out by unions of workers and
teachers to mark World Teachers’ Day and the World Day for Decent Work (Oct.
7). Workers and teachers called for compliance with the 2009 law that, as of
Oct. 1, sets the minimum daily wage at 300 gourdes ($7.12). They also demanded
jobs with decent wages, the payment of salary arrears to teachers, and the
hiring of all graduates of the State Teachers College (École Normale
Supérieure) and the Training Center for Basic School (CEFEF), among other
institutions. The demonstrators asked for a base monthly salary of 50,000
gourdes ($1,186) and other benefits for teachers, the publication of a law
setting tuitions and regulating teachers’ status, allocating 34% of the Haitian
budget to education, and generally improving working conditions.
on Oct. 4 in Petit Goâve, in the locality of Barette, the population
demonstrated when President Martelly inaugurated 1 km of road funded by the
U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Presidential security guards
retaliated with tear gas, which killed an octogenarian as well as some animals.
The guards also clubbed protesters and burned motorcycles.
Belladère, on Oct. 8 demonstrators rallied to demand the restoration of
electricity in the area, but a man opened fire on them, wounding four people.
same day, in Fort Liberté, people demonstrated to demand a shipping port for
their coastal town. But the city’s hard-line mayor quickly deployed the police
who dispersed the crowd with tear-gas and shots in the air. In the ensuing
melee, a bystander was killed, shot in the back.
large protests are planned for Port-au-Prince on Oct. 14 and for Cap-Haïtien on
Oct. 17. Other actions are planned for provincial towns.
eight years of military occupation by foreign forces, the imperialists seem
unable to prevent the breakdown of the right-wing neo-Duvalierist regime they
installed through an illegal election in March 2011. It is collapsing under the
weight of its own hedonism, arrogance, and corruption.
The Oct. 5 march of teachers and other workers in Port-au-Prince.
“Workers should have good conditions” said the sign, in Kreyòl, of one
Photo by Haïti Liberté