Tens of thousands of Haitians participated in protests across the country on Sunday to demand President Jovenel Moïse’s resignation. The mass action came after an audit found politicians had embezzled billions in development funds from PetroCaribe, a socialist Venezuelan program that granted poorer Western Hemisphere nations access to cheap oil.
PetroCaribe, which technically continues to exist despite the Venezuela’s government’s near-total economic collapse, also granted billions in funds to underdeveloped nations for major infrastructure projects. Nominally, the projects were intended to turn the countries into more stable Venezuelan oil clients, though in reality the project was largely used to buy support for Nicolás Maduro’s socialist regime at international venues like the Organization of American States (OAS) and the United Nations.
Haiti’s Superior Court of Auditors (CSCCA) released a 600-page report last week revealed that the government had invested billions in PetroCaribe projects that never materialized, leaving unanswered what happened to the money.
In response, tens of thousands of people took the streets Sunday demanding that Moïse resign, according to the country’s Le Nouvelliste newspaper. The protests on Sunday engulfed at least seven cities in Haiti, local media reported, and quickly became violent as protesters burned tires, burned down homes, threw stones at police, and burned down residences. Protesters reportedly burned two police cars in addition to private residences in the capital, Port-au-Prince. Police blocked the road to the presidential palace to prevent protesters from attacking it.