In Haiti Barricades Become the Norm As State Repression Grows

Published November 19, 2019

In Haiti Barricades Become the Norm As State Repression Grows

For at least 18 months, barricades on the highways have constituted a strategy of Haiti’s popular uprisings.

A large tree trunk, branches, boulders and wrought iron piled in the middle of Delmas 75 street, not far from the Canadian Embassy, is one of the barricades that have blocked traffic every day for a month and a half in the Haitian capital.

Under constant guard by young people between ages 17-35, the barricade turn cars and motorcycles into traffic jams.

“The barricade symbolizes our curriculum vitae, our future and our life,” Davidson Veus, coordinator of the Tet Delmas organization, said about the symbolism of the barricades.

“We live in a system that exploits people and of which inequality is part and parcel. We want another system. We want to stop living in a country that is a paradise for a tiny group and hell for the majority,”

A little farther on from Delmas 75 are another two barricades: the first made of rocks and, a short way ahead, another of wrought iron that completely obstructs the street.

The barricades have popped up every morning in Port-au-Prince since the protests broke out last Sept. 16 against President Jovenel Moise, despite the authorities’ repeated attempts to evict them.

“The first of the protesters’ demands is the unconditional resignation of Jovenel Moises,” said Veus, who was inspecting the barricades in the suburbs.

“We’re not asking him to leave the country, but rather to answer the questions put to him. Even after that, the barricades will remain in place to demand a change in the entire system.”

Barricades have appeared between June 6-8, 2018, when the country went through its first “closure,” which in turn led to the resignation of Prime Minister Jack Guy Lafontant.

Since then, the strategy has been used in Port-au-Prince and some provincial capitals by protesters demanding a “clean slate.”

For more than seven weeks, Haiti has gone through a new popular uprising sparked by a fuel shortage in the context of a country plagued by corruption, inequality, insecurity and hunger.

It has been reported that 42 people have died and 86 have been injured since the protests began mid-September, the vast majority suffering from gun shot wounds.