Courtesy of Voice of America
The people of Haiti have been in a state of almost open insurrection against their government since July 2018. Government corruption and rising taxes on gasoline, diesel and kerosene brought Haitians out en masse. These price increases also increased the price of public transportation to a point of near unaffordability for many Haitians according to Voice of America.
The 2018 protests saw the resignation of the prime minister and several members of the cabinet. However, the deep-seated issues remained unaddressed and the movement flared up again in August under the hashtag “PetroCaribeChallenge.” The hashtag is in reference to the Venezuelan PetroCaribe aid program to Carribean states, which has been allegedly misused in Haiti. At least $1.7 billion from the PetroCaribe fund was mismanaged, according to the executive summary of the Haitian senate report. The funds were supposed to be used for social and economic projects as well as for reconstruction after the devastating 2010 earthquakes.
Despite promised investigations, protests continued to increase in intensity. A massive protest was called for Dessalines Day, which commemorates the death of slave revolt leader and Haitian national hero Jean Jacques Dessalines. Tensions rose as the state attempted to intimidate potential protesters and wealthy Haitians began to share videos of themselves with weapons threatening the protesters, according to Haitian Information Project.
Dessalines Day saw almost the entire country explode in violence, as barricades were constructed and clashes against the police were fierce. According to Haitian Information Project, police later attacked a funeral for those killed by the police, which ignited intense rioting.
November saw the protests intensify, as the state forces begin to use live ammo as the norm. According to the Miami Herald, a massacre committed by the state in the La Saline slum prompted a three-day general strike.
The protests continue to this day, leaving Haiti in a state of near-total rebellion as the government desperately tries to regain control of the situation. The protests show no signs of slowing, despite state calls for a Christmas truce and appeals to patriotism.