PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Several thousand people poured into the streets of Haiti’s capital on Sunday to protest the government of President Michel Martelly.
It was among the biggest demonstrations this year in Port-au-Prince against the first-time leader as he tries to rebuild the impoverished nation following a powerful 2010 earthquake that displaced more than a million people and destroyed thousands of homes.
Demonstrators’ complaints included the high cost of living, rising food prices and allegations of corruption as they snaked through the poorer neighborhoods Port-au-Prince. Some protesters carried small red cards to suggest that Martelly has committed too many fouls since he was sworn in as president in May 2011.
The Martelly government had no immediate public reaction to the protest.
Martelly, a pop music star before he turned to politics, presented himself as an outsider when he ran for the presidency. He promised free schooling and houses for people displaced by the earthquake. But some Haitians complain that Martelly has fallen short of improving their lives in one of the poorest countries in the world.
“The president has made so many promises but nothing has become a reality,” protester Max Dorlien said. “It’s only a clique of his friends who are making money.”
The Sunday protest followed several weeks of mostly peaceful demonstrations in the countryside, and more are planned for October.
It also marked the 21st anniversary of the first ouster of two-time President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a former priest who returned to Haiti last year after seven years in exile. Since his return, Aristide has remained in his compound in the capital and out of the public spotlight, fueling widespread speculation on his political relevance.