Haitians Barricades Streets Continued In Protest Of UN Source Of Cholera Outbreak
November 19, 2010 1 Comment
Protests are continuing in Haiti over the cholera outbreak that has now killed more than 1,100 people and infected some 17,000.
On Wednesday, residents in the city of Cap-Haïtien clashed with U.N. troops for the third consecutive day.Crowds have taken to the streets expressing anger at the Haitian government and the United Nations for failing to contain the disease. We go to Cap-Haïtien to speak with independent journalist Ansel Herz. Follow the link for the rush transcript: Haitians Barricading Streets with Coffins as Protests against U.N. Continue over Cholera Outbreak.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Protests are continuing in Haiti over the cholera outbreak that has now killed over 1,100 people and infected more than 17,000. On Wednesday, residents in the city of Cap-Haïtien clashed with U.N. troops for the third consecutive day. Crowds have taken to the streets expressing anger at the Haitian government and the U.N. for failing to contain the disease. Nepalese U.N. troops stationed in Cap-Haïtien have been accused of inadvertently bringing cholera to Haiti.
The protests reportedly started at a cemetery where cholera victims were being placed in mass graves. At least two people have been killed in clashes between demonstrators and U.N. troops. On Tuesday, the U.N. Mission in Haiti, known as MINUSTAH, said aid flights have been canceled and water purification and training projects curtailed, while food at a warehouse has been looted and burned.
AMY GOODMAN: The Pan-American Health Organization told Agence France-Presse that the cholera outbreak could kill as many as 10,000 people and cause 200,000 infections in the coming year.
Meanwhile, the disease has spread beyond Haiti’s borders. The Dominican Republic confirmed it had detected its first case of cholera, and officials in Florida have confirmed the first case in the United States.
For more, we go to Haiti right now to speak with independent journalist Ansel Herz. He’s in the city of Cap-Haïtien, where the protests are taking place.
Ansel, welcome to Democracy Now! Tell us what’s happening in Cap-Haïtien.
ANSEL HERZ: Right now, I’m stationed in the downtown public square here in Cap-Haïtien. It’s the second-largest city here in Haiti on the northern coast. And things are—appear to be pretty calm here in the downtown. Today is actually a holiday. It’s National Flag Day, and it commemorates a huge battle that was waged in 1803 in Haiti’s independence struggle.
But as I came into the city yesterday, there were barricades almost every couple hundred of yards on the main highway coming into Cap-Haïtien. There were young men, as well as women, around a lot of these barricades. I had a few rocks thrown at me. But as I got closer, I flashed my press badge, and I tried to make clear that I wasn’t with the U.N. peacekeeping mission, and immediately I was sort of hustled through a lot of these barricades. And they’re actually still in the streets. A lot of them are not manned at the moment. But people are saying that because today is this national holiday commemorating Haiti’s independence struggle, they expect the protesters to come out again in the next few hours.
And I’ll add, too, that, reportedly, a third person has been killed by U.N. troops here in the city. That happened yesterday. I actually went by a back street here in Cap-Haïtien, where protesters had dug a trench as a barricade, basically, and a MINUSTAH vehicle, a peacekeeping vehicle, fell into the trench. And I’m told by witnesses and by Haitian journalists here that when the vehicle fell in, Chilean peacekeepers sort of came under attack, I guess, or a barrage of bottles, rocks—the population—and that the troops responded with gunfire and shot an innocent young man just in his house. And so, reportedly, they took his body over to the mayor’s office, actually, and left it there. And again, meanwhile, there are still barricades here in the street, and some of them are actually made of coffins, and protesters told me that there are cholera victims inside.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re asking listeners and viewers to bear with the phone sound, but we just think it’s absolutely critical to get this information out of Cape Haitian, or Cap-Haïtien. Juan?
JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, Ansel, I’d like to ask you, in terms of—it’s clear that the U.N. peacekeepers, if they were the source, and likely were, of the outbreak of the cholera, didn’t do it deliberately, but there has been a growing resentment for years now among the Haitian people to U.N.—the presence of U.N. peacekeepers. Can you talk about the roots of this animosity?
ANSEL HERZ: Sure. I mean, it’s been interesting to see how the U.N. here has responded to these riots, because they—and protests, because they’ve actually claimed that people are sort of being manipulated and that it’s not a legitimate sort of spontaneous political movement. But, of course, I was here in this city a year ago, actually, and I was interviewing people on the street, and they were telling—there were protests at that time, peaceful protests, against U.N. peacekeepers. And they were telling me that they were tired of an occupation in their country, that the peacekeepers have an enormous budget, but very little of it is spent on, you know, concrete humanitarian activity that could actually improve education and healthcare in this country.
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