Protests mark Haiti Independence anniversary

image In his Independence message, President Préval warned that the political impasse, the earthquake that hit a year ago, and the ongoing cholera outbreak have put Haiti on “a dangerous road”.

“Haitians call for President Rene Preval to step down as the country marked the anniversary of independence, which also coincided with the start of the New Year.” /

–>PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Monday January 3, 2011 – Haitians marked their country’s 207 years of independence from France this weekend with protests and demands for  President René Préval to step down immediately.

While a big celebration took place on Saturday in the city of Gonaives where a slave rebellion led to independence for the former French colony, angry demonstrators showed their displeasure with Préval, chanting and bearing placards calling for his removal.

In the capital, Port-au-Prince, protesters burned tyres in the streets, blocked roads and called on the authorities to arrest Préval on a day that also marked the start of 2011.

Haitians are still angry about the results of the first round of November 28th presidential elections, alleging fraud and voter intimidation by the ruling party.

The preliminary results put former first lady Mirlande Manigat in first position, followed by Préval’s handpicked candidate, Jude Celestin. However, those results are currently being reviewed by a team from the Organisation of American States (OAS) before a run-off takes place between the two top candidates later this month.

In his Independence message, President Préval warned that the political impasse, the earthquake that hit a year ago, and the ongoing cholera outbreak have put Haiti on “a dangerous road”.

He said everything had changed after the January 12th quake that rocked the capital, killing more than 230,000 and leaving thousands more homeless. Appealing for understanding, Préval said that after the disaster, “the country was turned upside down”.


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5 thoughts on “Protests mark Haiti Independence anniversary

  1. Hello –

    This response does not need published on the site; I’m just writing to the author of this piece for some clarification.
    Last week I had the life-changing pleasure of visiting Haiti for the first time. That Saturday afternoon I was travelling south on Rte.1 and Preval’s guarded motorcade passed us around 3:15PM. I felt an odd combination of anger, disgust and awe.
    During that return trip through PAP (my group lived out near the U.S. embassy) I did not see any protests, burning tires or the like. Nor did I hear our translators and in-country sponsors talking about protests. I am not writing to counter your assertions, just asking clarification about where & what occurred.
    Thank you and keep up the good work,
    Frank in Pennsylvania, USA.

    1. @ Frank-
      A very thoughtful comment, and I thank you for it.

      In country sponsors, or local translators will not comment about the present government for fear of reprisals and by this I do not mean broken legs or burned vehicles (although this is always a possibility). You containers can be held up in customs. Your requests are delayed…all sorts of slow downs.

      For locals there is intimidation, past and present. Your child will not find a place in school. Many subtle and not so subtle things can happen.

      The classic example was my good friend Olivier Nadal, the President of the Chamber of Commerce who led a 20,000 person protest against Aristide. He was forced into exile and eventually abandoned by his friends and business associates, for his honest stand, a stand that was supported by them at the time.

      Olivier remains in Texas, a bitter man.

      The January 1 appearance by Preval was a celebration of the National Independence day and there were protests, believe me. I was there. Gonaives is a center of rebellion and has lit the fuse in the past for presidential departures such as Duvalier, and Aristide.

      We are in a quiet period, perhaps the calm before the storm. The recent electoral process was a farce and now the international community endeavors to salvage it….by auditing the existing votes. Problem is, there is no reason to suspect these votes had anything to do with the process.

      The overall Haitian situation is far too complex for a 1000 word explanation and your – in country hosts – may never really become integrated into the society here.

      As one who has been deeply involved with Haiti for over 30 years, may I welcome you to this nation that is really an addictive society, one that captures a visitor’s heart, or at least some visitors’ hearts. The Haitians are a special people who face overwhelming adversity with an optimistic humor that cannot be matched anywhere else in the world.

      They need friends like you.

      Perhaps they will manage to overcome the quake and the cholera, but this will take time and help. Unfortunately, the UN, OAS and other groups often act against the best interests of Haitians, ignoring local solutions for local problems.

      I won’t bore you further.

      Perhaps you will learn more from our site.

      Some of the material is naturally biased, because that is the nature of life….but we do our best to present all sides of the question. Unfortunately, for Haiti…Preval, is a cocaine dealing, murdering, torturing thief of major proportions…..with an ongoing incompetence that is staggering. If I have left anything out, I apologize. These facts are known to the State department, UN, OAS…etc…but they like him because he has been compliant.

      They do not want a patriotic nationalist who will put his country first.

      Sad but true.
      Best regards,

    2. @ Collins
      In the end of your comment, you listed the things that Preval is- He is blind.
      Blind to the needs of his nation.
      He is blind to the atrocities that are the results of his direct actions, and in-actions.
      He should be put in a completely dark room with no contact for many many months, so he can open up to what he has inflicted on us in Haiti.
      Let the nightmares eat away at him for a change.

  2. It seems that so far that quite a few of us can not understand that One man as Preval, who might be more scarred now than a mouse, has absolutely no power, nor control of the decisions that have been taken regarding the issues occurring in Haiti lately.
    Yes he is called and named President, but he is nobody.the man as many other ones has to follow orders. mainly addressed from the white president elected or to be elected will ever have that privilege to decide the destiny of his country coming from third world is all demanding by the only nation ruling the world.
    that they wanted to impose to the Dominican Republic the burden of Haiti by merging the two parts the island-something they still want and that has the only purpose of sinking the entire island-.I wonder why they refuse to do the same with Mexico, and that the dominican President stand against that, mean that at least they are given the freedom to say no. which give us the right to com dam Preval for allowing all the irregularities in Haii.
    however,we can understand that Preval and Leonel fernandez are not educated the same neither have they the same vision.
    Does preval care about his country? certainly not,and that is why he is the men they want and preserve.Haiti will never know any better day unless the nation ruling the world change their policy regarding third world country.

  3. I think when Frenk was in Haiti, He was blind. But we too, the Haitians are blind and dam because we refuse to practice and implement the symbol that our Heroes left for us to continue fithing the masters, “United we stant” l’union fait la force.

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