Recent unrest in Haiti has erupted amid Haitian citizens’ calls to have their President, Mr. Moïse, step down.
Many are claiming that Mr. Moïse’s five year Presidential term is now over as of February 7th, 2021. However, he insists that he never took office until February of 2017, which would have him serve another year as the Haitian President. Mr. Moïse’s refusal to step down has led to a rise in tension in the streets of Haiti as thousands of anti-Moïse protesters have begun marching. The riots in the streets will continue as Mr. Moïse’s opponents refuse to accept his claim. Sunday will officially be the day that his term legally ends, and they are insisting that he step down then.
Schools in Haiti and many businesses have remained shuttered and tourism has completely stopped due to the unrest. In addition, there has been a frightening surge in criminal activity including the kidnapping of elementary school children, teachers, and even some public transportation drivers. “The country is now gangsterized – what we are living is worse than during the dictatorship,” Pierre Esperance, a human rights activist stated, referring to the Duvalier rule that ended in 1986. Gang activity is leading to Haitians being afraid to even leave their home for fear of being kidnapped for ransom. Since his Presidency has started the number of gangs has grown dramatically and has become uncontrollable. Protestors have been seen at the capitol streets yelling “Mare yo, Mare yo” which translates to “Tie them up, Tie them up,” referring to Mr. Moïse and members of his government.
The United States government has stated that it is in the best interest for Haiti to let Mr. Moïse hold office as Haiti’s President for another year as long as he holds a free and fair election next year in 2021. According to a State Department spokesman, Ned Price, he should only get to continue this year as long as he agrees his term ends next February and “a new elected president should succeed President Moïse.” The United Nations and the US government’s main goal is to have the unrest in the streets put to rest. According to a Haiti-born political science professor from the University of Virginia, Robert Fatton, “trouble is bound to happen,” whether he steps down or not. Haiti has had a history with election disputes most recently regarding Michell Martelly who was elected in 2011. If Mr. Moïse does not step down, according to protesting Haitians and Mr. Moïse’s opponents, it is expected that the civil disobedience will continue.
ARTICLE: HANNAH WIDNER
WORLD NEWS EDITOR: LUKE LEBAR
PHOTO CREDITS: MIAMI HERALD