Haitians march in defense of constitution as it turns 34

Countless numbers of Haitians took to the streets in the cash and multiple metropolitan areas once again Sunday, this time to defend their country’s structure and reject Haitian President Jovenel Moïse’s proposed referendum to introduce a new magna carta.

With a hefty police existence stationed all through the protest route in Port-au-Prince, protesters demanded respect for the existing structure and yelled “Down with dictatorship” as militants burned tires and tore down recently mounted billboards selling the future constitutional referendum scheduled for June 27 in advance of legislative, area and presidential elections scheduled for the slide.

Haitians display all through a protest to denounce the draft constitutional referendum carried by the President Jovenel Moise on March 28, 2021 in Port-au-Prince. VALERIE BAERISWYL AFP by using Getty Images

Moïse has unveiled several proposed modifications in a draft structure to overhaul the country’s Constitution that, amid other matters, restructures the govt and presents higher powers to the presidency. However, the proposal comes amid developing unrest and distrust of Moïse by several Haitians, and calls from the United States for him to finish his rule by decree by holding legislative elections to restore parliament.

Marching by the road to the defeat of a Carnival band, protesters waved miniature Haitian flags whilst singing in Creole, “No, no, we will not go. No, no, we will not go. We will not go to elections right up until Jovenel goes to jail.”

Protesters also ongoing their calls for Moïse’s departure, insisting that his presidency finished final month — he claims he nevertheless has a calendar year remaining — while expressing anger above corruption, kidnappings, rising inflation and what quite a few deem as interference by the global community that support him. Keeping up hand-created signals decrying the United States and the United Nations, some protesters went as much as contacting on Russia for assistance.

“No to dictatorship, stay democracy, live the Structure,” a thinned-out crowd yelled soon after arriving at the Constitutional Plaza on the Champ de Mars at the conclusion of the 4-hour march.

Structured by representatives of Protestant churches, civil modern society and opposition political events, Sunday’s demonstration was the initial of two back-to-back again marches to mark the 34th anniversary of the structure. Penned after the fall of the 29-yr Duvalier loved ones dictatorship in 1986, the Constitution was overwhelmingly authorised a yr later on on March 29, 1987.

Haitians display throughout a protest to denounce the draft constitutional referendum carried by the President Jovenel Moise on March 28, 2021 in Port-au-Prince. VALERIE BAERISWYL AFP by using Getty Pictures

The Structure at this time offers for a host of private liberties like the right to protest and the defense of human rights. But the document is also crammed with constraints, like the prohibition against a referendum, to protect against the rise of any long term dictatorship. Moïse and other folks have mentioned those measures have turn into obstructions to superior governance in an impoverished Haiti and make for a pretty intricate magna carta.

In his speeches, Moïse has regularly pointed out the shortcomings of the Constitution and claimed most Haitians favor a new doc. The concern say scholars and lawful authorities is not no matter if alterations ought to or need to not be made to the Haitian Structure, but how. They accuse the president of unilaterally and illegally in search of to modify the Constitution, which necessitates any changes to go by parliament.

“When he was sworn-in, he said he would respect the constitution. Now what do we see? You see him heading against the structure, saying he is likely to do a referendum, which the 1987 constitution forbids,” mentioned Reynold Georges, a well known legal professional who the moment served as a legal adviser to the president who joined Sunday’s protest.

Georges, who is also a single the first signers of the constitution, said these opposing Moïse’s anti-constitutional attempts to give Haiti a new constitution have no preference but “to get to the streets..and say to Jovenel, ‘We do not concur, and we will by no means agree.”

Though most of the protest transpired peacefully, a clash did erupt between some protesters and law enforcement on the Champ de Mars when rocks commenced being thrown at police and one particular of their bases. Police in switch responded by firing tear fuel, and afterwards issued a assertion deploring the protesters’ violent act.

Jacqueline Charles has noted on Haiti and the English-talking Caribbean for the Miami Herald for above a decade. A Pulitzer Prize finalist for her coverage of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, she was awarded a 2018 Maria Moors Cabot Prize — the most prestigious award for coverage of the Americas.