On March 11, members of various Haitian civil society organizations and social movements held a peaceful demonstration outside the US Embassy in the capital Port-au-Prince to demand that the US government withdraw its support for the illegitimate government of the de-facto president Jovenel Moïse. The demonstrators reiterated that the people of Haiti no longer recognize Moïse as their president and requested the US government to respect their self-determination and sovereignty.
According to the Haitian Constitution, Moïse’s presidential term ended on February 7. However, he has refused to leave power, alleging that there have been differences in the interpretation of the constitution and that he has another year of his mandate.
Since February 7, Haitians have been mobilizing in different parts of the country to demand that Moïse respect the constitution and step down. In Port-au-Prince, every Sunday, thousands of people take to the streets in rejection of his dictatorship. These mobilizations are now multiplying across the country.
Thursday’s protest was called for by the opposition Democratic and Popular Sector party, People’s Alliance, Resistance Base, Revolutionary Women, among other organizations. These organizations criticized the international community for supporting Moïse’s unconstitutional plans despite the widespread popular rejection.
“Haitians are victims of all kinds of violence, we are witnessing a complicit silence from the international community. We are free, and we will not accept any form of slavery in disguise. We will do everything possible to ensure that our Constitution is respected,” Manoucheka Jules, the coordinator of the Revolutionary Women organization, told Prensa Latina.
Recently, the UN restated its support of Moïse’s decision to hold a constitutional referendum in June, and presidential and legislative elections in September.
However, according to the Federation of Haitian Lawyers, the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) appointed by the president does not have any legitimacy to organize these electoral processes. Since January 2020, Moïse has been ruling by a presidential decree, as the country’s parliament, the National Assembly, has not been functioning. The mandates of all the deputies and two thirds of the senators expired without the occurrence of legislative elections, which were scheduled for October 2019, but were postponed because of a wave of protests sparked by a fuel shortage crisis.
Furthermore, Haitian citizens, opposition political parties and social organizations have denounced Moïse’s decision to hold elections as part of an attempt to extend his term of office until 2022. They have also condemned the regime’s decision to hold a referendum to replace the current constitution, which is the main achievement of the democratic movement of 1986, with a new one that provides for the return to a presidential regime. The opposition has deemed the referendum “invalid” as the 1987 Constitution prohibits its modification through popular consultation. Citizens and the opposition are demanding that Moïse transfer power to the agreed interim government to administer the country for the next two years, recover it from the deepening institutional crisis caused by Moïse’s administration and organize elections for the next government.
In the face of popular resistance, Moïse has unleashed brutal police repression against protesters and journalists documenting the anti-government protests, has launched an attack on opposition forces for organizing an alleged “coup” against him, has ordered the arrests of a score of people, has dismissed three Supreme Court judges for their alleged involvement in the attempted coup.
Moïse’s regime has confirmed its intentions to go ahead with the elections as planned, while the opposition has called on the people to continue the struggle until Moïse resigns.
In the midst of this social and political unrest, the climate of insecurity violence has soared, the kidnappings by criminal gangs to extort money have increased. As a result an increasing number of people are migrating to the neighboring country, the Dominican Republic, where they are facing discrimination under the rule of conservative President Luis Abinader.