Cap Haitien, Haiti’s second largest city, was awakened by demonstrations on November 15 against the United Nation’s occupation force, Minustah, which is accused of being responsible for starting the cholera epidemic in Haiti.
Shortly after 6am, thousands of angry demonstrators took to the streets in the city, where cholera has killed more than 200 people. Demonstrators also denounced the Haitian government’s mismanagement of the epidemic.
The Haitian Press Agency said the protesters threw bottles and rocks at the northern city’s two Minustah bases. The UN soldiers responded with automatic weapon fire.
Casualties from the Cap Haitien protests included two demonstrators killed by Minustah gunfire, 16 wounded.
Two police stations were also burned and six occupying soldiers injured by rocks.
Barricades of burning tires were thrown up around the city. The protesters also ransacked a food depot of the World Food Programme (WFP), located southeast of Cap Haitien.
Minustah first arrived in Haiti in the aftermath of the 2004 US-backed coup against elected, pro-poor President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. There have been many protests by ordinary Haitians against the UN occupation force.
There were also demonstrations on November 15 in Grande Riviere du Nord, Limbe and Hinche, calling for Minustah’s immediate departure from Haiti.
Stanley Jean-Marie, one of the protest organisers, said the demonstrations were a political action, reflecting deep anger with the government of President Rene Preval. “It is time for them to leave”, Jean-Marie told Radio Kiskeya.
At first, Minustah spokesperson Vincenzo Pugliese said those wounded had been hit by rocks and bottles. Later he acknowledged, in an interview with Radio Capois, that the Haitian National Police (PNH) had opened fire.
Hundreds of people in the city of Hinche on the Central Plateau took to the streets to demand Munistah’s departure, also accusing it of being the propagator of cholera in Haiti.
In the capital, Port-au-Prince, the mood is also tense. Popular organisations organised demonstrations on November 17 and 18 to demand the withdrawal of UN troops.
November 18 marked the 207th anniversary of the Battle of Vertieres, the Haitian revolution's decisive engagement.
Cholera is spreading rapidly through the country. To date, 1034 people have died from the disease, while 16,799 are hospitalised with it. Given the habitual understatement of Haitian health officials, these official figures are probably well below the real ones.
[Abridged from Haitianalysis.com.]