PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti, October 8, 2019 (CMC) – Canada has warned its nationals to stay away from Haiti, where opposition forces are continuing street protests, aimed at forcing the country’s president, Jovenel Moise, out of office.
The Canadian foreign ministry advisory has condemned “all forms of violence in Haiti”, and Ottawa, in updating its information on the protests, said the country is experiencing water, food and fuel shortages.
“Many businesses and banks are closed, making it difficult to access cash and commodities of all kinds. Burning barricades are disrupting traffic in the main streets of Port-au-Prince. Clashes between protestors and security forces have occurred. Police have used tear gas and live ammunition to disperse crowds,” the advisory said, adding that additional protests are expected, over the next few days.
“Acts of violence could happen without notice. Avoid all unnecessary travel to Haiti,” Canada told its citizens, informing them also that “if you are in the country, limit your movements, avoid crossing road blockades, even if they appear unattended (and) plan to have adequate water, food and fuel supplies”.
“Please note that even peaceful demonstrations can turn violent at any time. They can also lead to disruptions to traffic and public transportation. Avoid areas, where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place, follow the instructions of local authorities (and) monitor local media for information on ongoing demonstrations,” it added.
Opposition forces have been staging street demonstrations in a bid to remove Moise from office, amid allegations of corruption, and Opposition spokesman, André Michel, said they have launched operation “Poze Sele” (Seal), where supporters would descend on state institutions that collect government revenue, crippling their operations.
The American Chamber of Commerce in Haiti (AmCham) said that the general climate of insecurity is affecting the entire society, and that it is also leading to “an unprecedented deterioration of the national economy, which is gradually destroying the formal sector of business”.
The private sector group said that inflation is exceeding 19 percent and commented also on the lack of a national budget, for two consecutive years.
“We also note the failure of the executive and legislative branches to work together, to put in place an effective government that can, at least, meet the basic needs of the people.
“What are the consequences for the Haitian population as a whole, if our leaders persist in this direction? The path is clearly drawn to bury our Homeland in misery, insecurity and total anarchy, because the approach chosen so far has unfortunately failed,” AmCham said.
The private sector group said it was calling on Moise, other legislators and opposition actors “to show humanity and respect towards the Haitian population, who cannot continue to subsist under the current conditions”.
“We ask you to agree to put aside your various interests and to focus, this time, on the common interests of the nation. We ask you to behave as statesmen and make the necessary decisions to bring the country out of chaos, because time is of the essence. This, dear leaders, is a patriotic cry. We hope you will listen to it,” AmCham added.
Meanwhile, amid reports that opposition supporters had intend to demonstrate outside the Court of Cassation, where Moise had been expected to be present, the traditional opening ceremony, on Monday, was cancelled.
But the absence of the ceremony did not prevent the opening of the judicial year and Wando Sainvilier, Dean of the Court of First Instance of Jacmel and President of the Professional Association of Magistrates, said “the deleterious climate of the country does not allow us to ask judges, lawyers and other justice professionals to risk their lives for holding such a ceremony”.