Haitians Protest Tax hikes with widespread violence

Port-au-Prince, Haiti – Protesters against new tax hikes in Haiti became violet – causing severe damage to cars and stoning security and police officers with rocks– in several localities of Port-au-Prince, the capital.

Tuesday’s demonstration, eye witnesses say, was the largest of such protest by Haitian citizens since President Jovenal Moise assumed office in February this year.

Former presidential candidate Jean-Charles Moise is believed to have called for the protest after lawmakers approved detested budget hours before the advent of Hurricane Irma Friday, which damaged about 8,000 homes in the northern part of the country.

Protesters march through the streets of Port-au-Prince

Reliable sources say the new budget incorporates higher taxes on all purchases, including cigarettes and alcohol.

In addition, the bill called for payment of new tax before Haitian citizens can access government services. Meanwhile, it also includes a 74 percent increase in the salaries of government officials, cars, staff and per diem payments for legislators.

Demonstrators assembled burning barricades in streets and confronted riot police firing tear gas and warning shots.

According to Police sources, seven people were arrested and are undergoing interrogation.

Several political and economic analysts say the tax increase arises at a time when foreign aid to the country is reducing drastically.

Haiti, viewed as the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, is still recuperating from a devastating 2010 earthquake that killed thousands and destroyed several properties.

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Michael Harrington

Michael Harrington is a researcher and senior contributing reporter with Globe Afrique Media.
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