LA in the News: Violent Protests in Haiti

Protesters demanding the resignation of President Jovenel Moise faced the police in Port-au-Prince.

Photo: NYT article

In the nation of Haiti, protests have been going on for months calling for the country’s President Jovenel Moise to resign. These protests are happening for many reasons. The problems Haiti is facing is essentially being blamed entirely on President Moise, who has been in power since 2017. These reasons include corruption, a lack of care of citizens by the government, and a horrendous economy. The protests have been going on for a few months, but recently on September 27 and 28, 2019 they have escalated and several more events have taken place out on the streets. A police station was raided by protestors opposed to President Moise. Houses and buildings have been burned down, along with protestors attacking police forces and the police reacting to them with forces such as tear gas.

Protestors have claimed that the president is corrupt and “is not doing anything for us, just killing us,” as stated by the protestor Francois Pericat (NYT). The protestors are also pushing for the Haitian government to investigate how the funds under Moise are being spent, as his administration and allies have been accused of wasting money and resources. The New York Times referenced to the statements of Youri Latortue, a senator who is part of the opposition against Moise, who stated that “Moise will be held accountable for everything that happens in the country today.” (NYT). Moise himself made a statement earlier in 2019 that he refuses to resign, stating that if he does Haiti will be under the “hands of armed gangs and drug traffickers” (BBC). Moise’s speeches have not done anything for decreasing violence, and even cancelled a speech he was supposed to give at the U.N. due to the unrest.

I thought it was interesting in the contrast of how the New York Times (NYT) and how the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) represented the protests in Haiti. Both articles highlighted the demands of the protestors. But the NYT presented a statement from an opposition leader and nothing from President Moise, whereas the BBC article presented a statement from President Moise and nothing from opposition leaders. Both articles mentioned Moise’s corruption, but I thought it was surprising how the NYT did not go into any detail about the opposition leader whom they quoted, Youri Latortue. They merely stated that he was in opposition against President Moise, and that he has a specific stance against Moise. After doing some research, Youri Latortue is quoted in several recent articles in opposition to President Moise, yet in the past has been reported to have been one of the most corrupt politicians in the Haitian government. Without this context, people like Latortue and the opposition in general can be viewed as the solution to Haiti’s political crisis. Yet, he is as corrupt if not more corrupt than the president he is opposed to. This to me is a false representation of the intentions of the opposition on the NYT’s part, and instead the quote that they used of his should be seen as the government officials recognizing Moise’s corruption and not as an answer to Moise’s corruption.

While reading both the NYT and BBC article, I could not stop thinking about DeFronzo’s factors for revolutions. Currently in Haiti, there is a mass frustration (as seen by the protests and violence), elite divisions (institutional opposition to President Moise), and a political crisis (immense amounts of corruption and a failing economy). The only two factors missing are unifying motivations, and the world context. This is very relevant in our class discussions, since we have covered leaders in similar situations to President Moise. Moise’s corruption and failure to care for his citizens harks back to corrupt leaders such as Diaz in Mexico or Batista in Cuba. It is very possible that soon a revolution or extensive reform could take place in Haiti as a result of this violence and mass hatred for President Jovenel Moise.

 

Sources:

NYT: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/27/world/americas/haiti-protests-moise.html

BBC: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-49861759

Articles quoting Youri Latortue in opposition to President Moise: https://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/haiti/article235555997.html

Protesters in Haiti burn businesses in push to oust leader

Articles highlighting Latortue’s corrupt past: https://haitiliberte.com/mafia-boss-drug-dealer-poster-boy-for-political-corruption-wikileaked-u-s-embassy-cables-portray-senator-youri-latortue/

Haiti Police, Senator Implicated in US Arms Trafficking Case

DeFronzo: https://larev2019.voices.wooster.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/227/2019/06/DeFronzo-Social-Movements-and-Revolutions.pdf

 

 

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