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Haitians On Protest Despite President’s Assurance

On the streets of Port-au-Prince, protesters are burning tires and building makeshift barricades, which are blocking many roads.

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Protest
A demonstrator kicks a tear gas canister during clashes with Haitian police in Port-au-Prince, Feb. 15, 2019, on the ninth day of protests against Haitian President Jovenel Moise. VOA

Hundreds of Haitians protested in the streets of the capital, Port- au-Prince, for the ninth consecutive day Friday, despite the president’s assurances that he understands their pain and is working toward a solution.

“We are asking the international community to help us get rid of [President] Jovenel [Moise] because Jovenel is working for them,” a protester told VOA Creole. “Fellow citizens, please if you see Jovenel on the street, handcuff him and throw him in jail,” the young man added.

FILE - President Jovenel Moise, then the Haitian presidential candidate of PHTK Political Party, speaks during an interview with AFP in Port-au-Prince, Sept. 6, 2016.
President Jovenel Moise, then the Haitian presidential candidate of PHTK Political Party, speaks during an interview with AFP in Port-au-Prince, Sept. 6, 2016. VOA

Moise broke his weeklong silence with a national address Thursday night, which was broadcast nationwide and on Facebook. He sought to calm and reassure a tense and angry nation.

“I hear you,” Moise said, acknowledging criticism about his government’s ineffectiveness and lack of transparency. “I will never betray you. You are the reason I ran for president. I’m working for you.”

He also reminded the country’s most underprivileged citizens that like them, he, too, came from humble beginnings.

Moise announced that he has taken a series of measures to make life better for Haitians and has asked Prime Minister Jean Henry Ceant, whom he described as an electoral rival, to communicate those measures and apply them immediately. He later tweeted that Ceant would announce the new economic measures Friday.

It is still unclear whether or when the prime minister will announce the measures, but in an interview with a local radio station Friday morning, Ceant said the president had pressured him to resign. Ceant said he refused.

A group of women and children walk to buy water in the neighborhood of Petion Ville, in the Haitian Capital Port-au-Prince, on Feb. 14, 2019.
A group of women and children walk to buy water in the neighborhood of Petion Ville, in the Haitian Capital Port-au-Prince, on Feb. 14, 2019. VOA

On the streets of Port-au-Prince, protesters are burning tires and building makeshift barricades, which are blocking many roads.

“We don’t need for the prime minister to resign,” a protester in his 20s told VOA Creole. “We need lower prices. This morning I went to buy a bag of rice — I’m a poor person — they were asking 350 dollars [Haitian Gourdes, the local currency, are equivalent to about U.S. $3.50]. So, president, I’m asking you to resign. You can go now.”

“Jovenel is adding fuel to the fire,” a protester in his 40s told VOA Creole. “It would have been better if he had never said anything.” The man decried the current living conditions where young people have died and residents are dealing with a water shortage.

“I’m out here [protesting] for the ninth time. I lost a lot of brothers and sisters during these protests,” another man said proudly. “The president humiliated [in his speech last night] by calling us drug dealers, while he sends kudos to the Americans. Mr. President, we are not drug dealers!”

The international community has acknowledged the people’s right to protest but deplored the violence and damage to property.

The U.S. Embassy issued a statement Friday reacting to the protests and the president’s speech.

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“The United States Government shares the desire of the Haitian people for a better future for Haiti,” it said. “We encourage all of Haiti’s lawfully elected representatives, and all Haitians who seek a peaceful political solution consistent with Haiti’s constitution to engage in an inclusive dialogue — without resorting to violent action.”

The statement also encouraged “sound economic policy measures” and “transparent resource management” as ways to improve living conditions. (VOA)

Next Story

Zomato Delivery Executives in Bengaluru, Mumbai Protest as Company Claims Efficiency

According to Zomato executives, their incentives have been reduced while the company has increased the travel distance to make them eligible to earn bonus points

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Zomato NRAI
Zomato in a smartphone device. Pixabay

As thousands of Zomato delivery executives in Bengaluru and Mumbai protested against the revised rate cards, the online food aggregator on Monday said that reduced average delivery time (less than 30 minutes) has enabled its delivery partners to perform more deliveries in the same amount of time.

In Bengaluru, the remuneration per delivery has been reduced to Rs 30 from Rs 40.

“Different metrics such as base pay, user satisfaction, delivery touchpoints and minimum guarantee etc. help us appreciate our delivery partners in accordance with their efforts,” a Zomato spokesperson said in a statement.

“Reduced average delivery time and increased system efficiency have enabled our delivery partners to perform more deliveries in the same amount of time,” the spokesperson added.

The food delivery platform on September 7 said that it has laid off 541 people — 10 per cent of the company’s strength — across customer, merchant and delivery partner support teams.

zomato, NRAI
Founded in 1982, the NRAI represents the interests of over 5 lakh restaurants. Pixabay

The reason behind the move is an improved Zomato platform with Artificial Intelligence (AI)-driven bots and automation in resolving customer queries that has led to an overall reduction in direct order-related support queries, the company had said.

“We regret the inconvenience caused to our users and are continuously working to resume our services in the affected areas,” said Zomato.

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According to Zomato executives, their incentives have been reduced while the company has increased the travel distance to make them eligible to earn bonus points.

The company, which is at the loggerheads with the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) over deep discounts in its fine-dining Gold programme, claimed it has improved the speed of service resolution and now only 7.5 per cent of its orders need support (down from 15 per cent in March). (IANS)