Conflict Alerts

Conflict Alerts # 15, 27 October 2019

Hundreds protest in Haiti
Nidhi Dalal

In the news

Protests in Haiti have been going on in the country for many weeks, with people coming out on streets relentlessly. President Jovenel Moïse has been accused of corruption and is being demanded to step down. Anti-government protestors have clashed with the police authorities and the protests have taken a violent turn in the past few days. People started setting up barricades and stone pelting at the police, which in turn coerced the police to respond with tear gas and pellet guns. The clashes have left about twenty civilians dead. Shops, schools, businesses have remained shut, bringing the country to a halt. A Haitian senator had opened fire on the protestors gathered around the Parliament building, injuring a journalist in the process. And in a rare occurrence, Catholic leaders have taken to streets calling for a solution to the crisis that has gripped Haiti. Humanitarian conditions have taken a turn for the worst with access to medical facilities, schools, groceries, and ATMs affected since the past two weeks. People are seen stocking-up essentials, estimating that the current status might prolong for a long time to come. Moïse has been adamant on his stance and has refused to step down from his position.

 

Issues at large

People in the country have been affected by intense corruption and economic slowdown in the past few years. Inflation has been rampant and there is no end in sight. People took to protesting since February 2019 after Moïse’s ascent to power and have expressed disappointment over administrative failures. There have been several protests earlier, but this is by far the longest one, lasting for more than six weeks. People are demanding a more inclusive and just society with the government being accessible to people across the society. The security situation in the country had also declined after the withdrawal of United Nations peacekeepers. Despite being the first black republic country, the democratic institutions are failing resplendently. Elections are corrupt, political situation is unstable, representatives are opportunist and the economy is being ignored by the government. This has led to frustration and citizens are becoming more rebellious. The democratic process has been under attack by breakdown of social order and recurring military coups.

 

In perspective

The unrest in the country will not die until there is a solution to the political dysfunction. The anti-government protests will continue till the time there is some kind of agreement between the government and the people. Also, the government is required to take proactive steps to close the divide between political elites and the citizens. Such steps will also help in addressing the cause of widespread social dissatisfaction. If the present condition persists, there are indications that the country might face a serious humanitarian crisis. The government will have to provide long-lasting solutions for the crisis being faced by the educational, social, medical and economic sectors that affect the majority of the Haitian population.

Nidhi Dalal is a Research Intern at the International Strategic and Security Studies Program, National Institute of Advanced Studies. She can be reached at nidhidalal93@gmail.com

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