The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Haitian Workers Demonstrate:
A First Step

Nov 11, 2019

Translated from Combat Ouvrier (Workers’ Combat), the newspaper of the revolutionary workers’ group active in the French Caribbean islands, Guadeloupe and Martinique.

Following seven weeks of mass protests called Operation Lock Country, workers in the industrial zone of Haiti’s capital finally made themselves heard. Several hundred workers took to the streets on October 28 in the industrial area of Port-au-Prince. They left the workplaces and met at the entrance of the Sonapi industrial park, as called by the unions. Two main unions had sound trucks broadcasting slogans for President Jovenel Moïse to step down: “Jovenel, sleep outside!” Some workers demanded better working conditions, public housing, and welfare. A group of workers and comrades of the Organization of Revolutionary Workers (OTR) joined the march with red flags and banners.

Union leaders called for payroll deductions to stop. Bosses are withholding social security from workers’ paychecks, but when the workers file for it, there is nothing in their accounts. The bosses don’t pay the money, or lose it by speculating. Demands also included adjusting wages to match exchange rates between the U.S. and Haiti.

The police broke up the demonstration with tear gas grenades. Armed men attacked workers leaving. Later in the week, politicians and unions scheduled other protests against the president. Most protestors went along with the opposition politicians even though they are not for defending workers.

The dictatorship of Jovenel and his cronies has to go, but so does the dictatorship of the bosses and the politicians who serve them. Workers need to group together in their own organization with demands that defend their own interests.

In the end, what poor people need out of Jovenel Moïse’s resignation is very different from what politicians and some middle-class people mean. The politicians want the power to keep pilfering government budgets and to help the bosses oppress the poor. Workers need their own class independence: to rally around their own demands and their own revolutionary workers organization.