Haiti: students protest killing by police agent

Damaël D’Haïti, an economics student at the State University of Haiti (UEH), was shot dead the evening of Nov. 10 during an event at the university’s Faculty of Law and Economics (FDSE) facility in Port-au-Prince. According to witnesses, the killer was an agent of the Haitian National Police (PNH), Macéus Pierre-Paul (or Pierre-Paul Macéus); the motive was unclear. Pierre-Paul was detained, and Port-au-Prince Government Commissioner Lucmane Délile, chief prosecutor for the capital, insisted that justice would be carried out in this case.

UEH students began a series of protests on Nov. 12, with hundreds of youths setting up barricades of burning tires and blocking traffic along Christophe Avenue in downtown Port-au-Prince. Police from the PNH and the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) used tear gas and shots in the air to disperse the protesters. (Radio Kiskeya, Haiti, Nov. 12) The students were back on Nov. 13, joining a demonstration by several teachers’ unions demanding better working conditions and protesting a 2% tax the government has imposed since October on salaried employees. Regular and riot police used tear gas and firearms against students in the large Champ de Mars park near the National Palace; the students responded by throwing rocks. The confrontations continued for hours, paralyzing much of the downtown area. According to press reports, armed criminals took advantage of the chaos to rob passers-by. By the end of the day, two students had been wounded. (AlterPresse, Haiti, Nov. 14)

Protests continued throughout the week. On Nov. 14 police and students confronted each other in the Champ de Mars and in front of several different UEH schools. Students set up barricades outside the Faculty of Humanities (FASCH) on Christophe Avenue; the police agents chased them into the small campus and then hurled tear gas canisters over the gate, causing panic among the students trapped inside. The tear gas also affected neighborhood residents and students at nearby schools. Meanwhile, Josué Mérilien, coordinator of the National Union of Haitian Teachers (UNNOH), charged in a press briefing that the police were the ones responsible for the chaotic situation on Nov. 13; he demanded the release of three students who had been arrested.

Port-au-Prince commissioner Délile appealed for calm and repeated that the investigation into Damaël D’Haïti’s death was continuing. (AlterPresse, Nov. 15; Haïti Libre, Haiti, Nov. 15) Délile himself was a student leader in 2004 in the movement against former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide (1991-1996, 2001-2004). He is the eighth person to be appointed Port-au-Prince commissioner since President Michel Martelly (“Sweet Micky”) took office in May 2011. (Radio Kiskeya, Nov. 12)

An unidentified young man was shot dead near the Champ de Mars during a student protest on Nov. 16. Students initially blamed the PNH and MINUSTAH, but both organizations denied responsibility. According to police spokesperson Frantz Lerebours, the victim was a robber who was killed by an unknown individual, not the police. An accomplice of the victim was wounded in the incident and the police had detained him, Lerebours said. (AlterPresse, Nov. 16)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Nov. 18.