Haiti: 1,000 peasants protest

More than 1,000 people, mostly peasants, marched through the streets of Savanette, near the Dominican border in Haiti’s Central Plateau region, on May 19 to protest the local government’s failure to issue proper identity papers. The march also commemorated the 88th anniversary of the assassination of Benoit Batraville (“Ti Benwa”), the commander of the KAKO peasant army, which fought against a 1915-1934 military occupation by the US.

“Down with the occupation,” “Long live an independent and sovereign Haiti,” “Authentic birth certificates for small peasants” and “Down with corrupt civil servants” read the signs the protesters carried as they marched 4 km from the community of Kowos into the town of Savanette. There was a public meeting with local officials before the march, which was organized by Tet Kole Ti Peyizan Ayisyen (“Small Haitian Peasants’ Unity”). A number of groups sponsored a forum honoring Batraville in Kowos on the evening of May 18. (Alterpresse, May 22)

On May 20 the grassroots organization Chandel issued a call for measures to reduce unemployment and the high cost of food, which had spurred violent protests in April. The group asked for the authorities to suspend layoffs and the privatization process at the national telecommunications company, Teleco, and at the National Port Authority (APN); reopen state-owned warehouses in all 10 departments; and carry out agrarian reform measures aimed at restarting Haitian agricultural production. Other groups have raised similar demands, including the Collective of Small Haitian Peasant Organizations (KOTPA). (AlterPresse, May 20)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, May 25

See our last post on Haiti.