November 18, the historical date when Haiti fought its last battle against the French Army to become an independent nation, brought a new fight this year. This time, with opposing political parties fighting each other, the police cracking down on them and at least one person shot dead.
Shepherded by opposition leaders, groups of demonstrators took to the streets of Port-au-Prince to express their disapproval of Jovenel Moïse as their president, according to media reports. However, among the opposition groups, supporters of the various political parties attacked each other as well.
Police confronted them by throwing tear gas and firing gunshots, fatally shooting at least one person in the head in Champ de Mars. Two others were injured and transported to the hospital after a police vehicle knocked a motorcycle down, according to Le Nouvelliste.
Jean-Charles Moïse, the leader of the Pitit Dessalines Platform party, insulted prominent members of another democratic group, the Democratic and Popular Sector (SDP).
“What’s happening in Port-au-Prince isn’t politics,” Jean-Charles Moïse told reporters in an expletive-filled tirade. “Those of them who are lawyers, go plead in the courts. Those of them who are doctors, go to the health centers, go to your clinics.”
It appears Jean-Charles Moïse was referring to André Michel, a lawyer and member of the SDP, and Dr. Shiller Louidor, another SDP pillar.
Both parties were at the protest but the SDP attempted to march to the National Palace, while the Pitit Dessalines party walked to the front of the United States Embassy.
Michel responded to Jean-Charles Moïse on Twitter by saying that Jean-Charles joined forces with the Tet Kale Party (PHTK), the party President Moïse is part of, with the G9 Family and Allies gang and their leader Jimmy ‘Barbecue’ Cherisier.
“You spat on the bodies of everyone Barbecue and the G9 killed, kidnapped, raped in the country,” Michel posted on Twitter Wednesday evening.
Earlier in the morning, the 217th anniversary of The Battle of Vertières started with President Moïse and other members of his administration visiting l’Hotel de la Patrie in Champ-de-Mars to lay a wreath of flowers. President Moïse gave a speech afterward at the National Palace, in which he perfectly painted the picture of the 217th anniversary of The Battle of Vertières.
“It’s true that we don’t have chains around our feet anymore,” the president said. “But we’re still slaves of hate, division…slaves of misery, slaves of social injustice which prevent us from truly growing economically, socially and politically.”
Meanwhile, police officers stationed at Carrefour Plaza, the U.S. Embassy and the National Palace were waiting for the opposition rallies.
Since about 8 a.m., some demonstrators had begun burning tires between Nazon and Delmas 24, according to Radio Magik 9. By 10 a.m., the marchers began to fill the streets.
Jean-Charles Moïse and his troop were caught on camera bolting from tear gas. They somehow managed to make it near the U.S. Embassy, where there were fewer police.
Around 1:00 p.m. Jean-Charles Moïse stood on top of a truck near the embassy and made a speech where he offered up himself as a savior of Haiti. Among the issues he raised are the U.S. of partially being behind Haiti’s misery, food insecurity, employees not being paid on time.
“Uncle Sam contributes to our excruciating misery,” Jean-Charles Moïse said. “Me, Moïse Jean-Charles, I want to give myself away to deliver the country.”
The other group of protesters who planned to march to the National Palace couldn’t reach their destination because police threw tear gas and fired gunshots at them. They marched toward Champ de Mars park instead where they delivered their message, where police also confronted them.
Onz Chery started his writing career as a City College of New York student with The Campus. He also wrote for First Touch, Cosmopolitan Soccer League, and other local leagues. After graduating, Onz became one of ESNY’s sports journalists then joined The Haitian Times.