The Spark

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

Haiti:
Demonstrations against Poverty and Corruption

Dec 9, 2013

More than 10,000 people demonstrated in Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, on November 18, to protest poverty and to demand the resignation of President Michel Martelly. Martelly protects his own personal interests, those of the wealthy, and has shown himself just as corrupt as his predecessors.

The past several weeks has seen a wave of protests both in the capital and in other cities, where thousands of people from the poorest neighborhoods have taken to the streets. They also confront police repression, as noted in the journal of comrades in the French West Indies, from which the following is translated:

Throughout the month of October, there were a number of demonstrations against the government of President Martelly. On October 23, the young people of the neighborhoods and some students took to the streets of Port-au-Prince. They were responding to the call for protests of the lawyer André Michel, who has launched a legal complaint against the Martelly family for corruption. When the demonstrators reached the National Palace, they demanded the resignation of the government. They were dispersed by the police using tear gas. Some students responded to the teargas by throwing a hail of rocks.

In another protest, on Oct. 8, hundreds of residents of Fort-Liberté, a city in the north, took to the streets to demand that the mayor keep his promise to build a bridge. The police responded with tear gas and bullets, killing one man. Angry demonstrators set fire to a nearby police station.

A number of demonstrations have demanded the government take action to improve the living conditions of the population. [Haiti is one of the poorest countries on earth.]

Politicians opposed to Martelly have participated in these protests in hopes of pleasing voters for their political parties. So the Famni Lavalas called for the Oct. 17 demonstration in Port-au-Prince. Thousands of demonstrators protested the high price of school tuition, the rising cost of living, the need for new housing, as well as demanding the resignation of President Martelly. Opposition politicians marched at the head of the demonstration, some holding signs with the portrait of former President Aristide. These politicians conveniently forget that Aristide, before he was ousted, also served the “big eaters” (the rich), just like Martelly does.

For the moment, the discontent of the population is most often expressed in demonstrations orchestrated by politicians. Not only do these opponents of Martelly not defend the interests of the workers and the poor, but also they plan how to use the population for their own political purposes.

These demonstrations, these mobilizations in the streets, are the voice of the future for the workers and the poor of Haiti. They show an example of combativity to the workers and poor of the West Indies and of the United States. As always, the exploited can count only on themselves, and not on the politicians who serve the rich.