Originally: Haiti’s president blames crisis on aid freeze
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Jan. 9 ? Haiti’s embattled
President Jean-Bertrand Aristide on Thursday blamed a
freeze on foreign aid for the political unrest that
has roiled the impoverished Caribbean nation
”If aid to the country would be unblocked, every
Haitian will benefit,” Aristide told reporters at a
reception for visiting South African Foreign Minister
Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma. ”The opposition has a
responsibility to help unblock the country and
unfreeze the money.”
Aristide, a former Roman Catholic priest, was first
elected to lead the nation of 8 million in 1990 but
ousted in a coup months later. U.S. troops helped
restore him to power in 1994.
Since his reelection in November 2000, he has been
locked in a bitter dispute with the opposition
Democratic Convergence coalition over the May 2000
elections that observers said were rigged to favor
Aristide’s Lavalas Family party.
Haiti has seen a wave of anti-government protests in
recent months as students, trade unions and opposition
politicians have taken to the streets accusing
Aristide of corruption and political repression and
calling for his resignation.
Several anti-government rallies have been violently
broken up by Aristide supporters. On Wednesday, a
pedestrian was shot and killed in the provincial city
of Gonaives as riot police clashed with
On Tuesday, the streets of many Haitian cities were
virtually empty as motorists and pedestrians observed
a strike called by 11 of Haiti’s largest transport
unions to protest rising fuel prices.
The unions announced that they plan a massive march on
Haiti’s National Palace in the capital on Friday,
where they will be met by an opposition march
originating in another part of the city.
”We will march to show solidarity with the workers of
the entire country who are being affected by this
problem, we will mobilize together,” said Evans Paul,
former Port-au-Prince mayor and leader of the
Convergence-affiliated Democratic Unity Convention
party. ”We may very well be met with violence, but we
cannot let that deter us now.
Asked about the potential for violence at Friday’s
marches, Aristide said ”According to the
constitution, everyone is allowed to demonstrate.”