Haitians protest alleged misuse of Petrocaribe funds

Thursday, October 18, 2018

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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — A protest by tens of thousands of people across Haiti turned violent yesterday as anger grows over the alleged misuse of funds from an oil assistance programme sponsored by Venezuela.

Gunshots rang out while protesters threw rocks, blocked roads and burned tires to demand more transparency in how the Government uses funds from Petrocaribe. The programme provides below-market financing for oil for several countries in the region.

One police officer and two civilians were injured and police used tear gas to disperse a crowd throwing rocks at Hotel Kinam in the capital, Port-au-Prince.

Another policeman was injured on Tuesday when a bullet grazed his hand as officers tried to remove barricades ahead of the protest.

An investigation by Haiti's Senate found that at least 14 former Government officials allegedly misused $3.8 billion under the Administration of former President Michel Martelly.

A crowd marching through the capital chanted, “Tie them up! Tie them up!” and some protesters carried signs that read, “Where's the money?”

Protesters mobilised as Haiti commemorates the death of independence hero Jean-Jacques Dessalines.

Schools have been closed since midday on Tuesday as a precautionary measure, and embassies recommended people remain indoors.

The protest comes three months after Haiti's prime minister resigned amid widespread unrest following his failed attempt to increase fuel prices. At least seven people died in the unrest and dozens of businesses were looted or destroyed.

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