At least one Haitian was killed in a clash with UN peacekeepers on the outskirts of Cap Haitien, Haiti, on Tuesday. The man was shot amid mass protests in response to the rapidly spreading Cholera epidemic that has killed more than 1,000 people and which many Haitians believe was spread by the mostly Nepalese UN forces. Haitians protesters in Cap Haitien and Hinche reportedly threw stones and set up burning barricades to which the UN troops responded by firing tear gas. According to the UN, the protestor who was shot had first fired at a UN soldier, who fired back in self defense.
The protesters were demanding the departure of peacekeepers and the end of the MINUSTAH stabilization mission, which has been a presence in Haiti since 2004. However, the confirmation of Cholera cases in Port-au-Prince and all of Haiti’s 10 provinces is largely responsible for the unrest. As Haiti nears the one-year anniversary of the devastating earthquake, many of its social services are provided, not by the government, but by the multitude of non-governmental organizations that are currently on the ground. Given the damaged and largely decentralized health care system, access to adequate care is still scarce.
Though fear and anger surrounding Cholera is no doubt the primary agitator behind this week’s protests, the UN believes violence and political manipulation surrounding the presidential elections could also be responsible. The Haitian elections commission may choose to postpone the elections, scheduled for November 28, given the heightened risk of Cholera contamination and Haitian people’s reluctance to leave their homes to vote.
The British Foreign Office minister, Henry Bellingham, announced yesterday that Turks and Caicos' elections set for July 2011 would be delayed to allow for anti-corruption measures and government reforms to take effect, sparking protests and increasing tensions on the Caribbean island. Britain’s direct rule on the islands began in August 2009 after a probe into allegations of misuse of public funds and improper sale of government owned land found “urgent and wide-ranging systemic change” was necessary on the islands.
Following the dismissal of the local government and legislature, Britain appointed Gordon Wetherell as governor of the islands.
The People’s Democratic Movement, which previously welcomed British efforts to clean up the government, released a statement demanding “a return of power to the people of the Turks and Caicos islands,” and characterized the British announcement as a “blatant attempt to further separate Turks and Caicos Islanders from [their] inalienable rights to full democracy.”
Islanders’ frustrations with the British interim government have increased amid the economic downturn and continued political turmoil.
Franklin Brito, a farmer in the southern Venezuelan state of Bolivar, died Monday night while protesting the government sanctioned takeover of his farm in 2000 under President Hugo Chávez’s land reform policies. Mr. Brito had failed to regain his land from the government for the past decade despite numerous appeals and several previous hunger strikes that began in 2005. Mr. Brito passed away in a military hospital where he had been forcibly interned for his own safety, according to government officials.
Brito’s claims had initially garnered the support of Chávez who publicly supported him and called for government officials to rectify the situation. However, the government made no further attempts to satisfy Brito’s land dispute. Eventually, the government turned against Brito and accused him of having mental health problems. Venezuela’s minister for agriculture and land, Juan Carlos Loyo, stated publicly that Mr. Brito was being used by opponents of Hugo Chávez and his administration for political ends.
Brito had been placed in a medically induced coma last Friday to treat a respiratory condition, according to government sources, and also suffered from severe liver and kidney damage. Authorities claim he collapsed and that attempts were made to revive him before he was pronounced dead at 9 p.m. on Monday evening.
June 1: This AQ-Efecto Naím segment looks at sustainable cities in the hemisphere.