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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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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

Hong Kong Government Lower Expectations From Its Economy’s Growth

Hong Kong reduces economic growth forecasts for this year

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Hong Kong growth might hit anywhere between 0 to 1 per cent due to protests. Pixabay

The Hong Kong government lowered its economic growth expectations on Thursday and estimated that the city’s Gross Domestic Product will grow between zero to one per cent in 2019 due to “strong economic headwinds”.

“If growth does hit 0 to 1 per cent, this will be the worst situation we have faced since 2009,” Hong Kong Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po said in a press conference without directly referring to the protests as a cause.

“If Hong Kong’s economy grows in the third quarter at a similar pace to the second, the city will be technically in a recession,” he was quoted as saying by Efe news.

The technical recession would mean that the local GDP would have contracted for two consecutive quarters.

The data shows that during the first quarter, Hong Kong’s economy grew by 1.3 per cent, while in the April-June period it contracted by 0.3 per cent.

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‘Worst situation we have faced since 2009, says Hong Kong Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po . Pixabay

Chan also announced on Thursday a number of measures that are not officially intended to resolve the political crisis facing the Hong Kong administration but to take precautions in the face of the coming bad economic times.

The measures included a “mini-budget” valued at 19.1 billion Hong Kong dollars ($2.44 billion).

According to the South China Morning Post, the measures also included increasing loan guarantees for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as well as lowering rents for hospitality businesses.

The British consultancy company, Capital Economics, predicted the protests’ economic impact could cause a contraction of one per cent in the third quarter, ending the year with an annual growth of 0.5 per cent.

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Hong Kong’s economy grew by only 1.3 per cent in the April-June period. Pixabay

According to Capital Economics, the most affected sector would be tourism, which contributes to around four per cent of the total GDP.

Hong Kong is witnessing the 11th consecutive week of demonstrations that erupted in June, sparked by the government’s controversial extradition bill that was later shelved by Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam after intense popular pressure.

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The controversy surrounding the now-defunct extradition bill, which would have enabled fugitives to be transferred from Hong Kong to mainland China to stand trial under the latter’s opaque legal system, has morphed into a set of wider demands for democracy in the ex-British colony.

Hong Kong’s economy would face a severe contraction that could threaten the strength of the Hong Kong dollar if the protests continued or, in the extreme case, the Chinese Army intervened, Capital Economics warned. (IANS)