Haitians protest rising insecurity, attack U.S. missionary plane
Haitians took to the streets Tuesday to protest rising insecurity, with demonstrations turning violent in the southern city of Les Cayes, where people stormed the airport and attacked a small plane owned by a U.S. missionary group.
At least one person died and five were injured, including four police officers, in the confrontation between protesters and authorities in Les Cayes, said Gedeon Chery, a National Police inspector assigned to the city’s airport.
Chery told the Associated Press the fatality was a protester who was shot; he didn’t say whether police were responsible.
The protests coincided with the 35th anniversary of Haiti’s 1987 Constitution. They follow other protests and strikes in recent weeks amid a spike in gang-related kidnappings and complaints about Prime Minister Ariel Henry’s inability to confront gangs. On his Twitter account, Henry condemned the violence in Les Cayes and said he has ordered authorities to look for the people behind it.
Chery said a group of people had gotten onto the terminal’s tarmac, attacked the plane and set it on fire.
A video posted to social media showed people on the fuselage while the plane was moving on the tarmac; others were running alongside it. Chery said he didn’t know why they had attacked it.
Agape Flights — a Christian ministry transporting supplies to missionaries in Haiti, the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas — said in a statement that its Chieftain aircraft was destroyed, and the group was preparing to bring the team back to the U.S.
“Our team is safe,” the statement said. “Our missionary affiliates are hearing that they thought it was a politicians plane they were destroying.”
There were also protests in Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital, where some burned tires. Protesters criticized Henry’s inability to tamp down violence and insecurity.
“He has nothing left to offer but words and more baseless words,” said Marie-Andre Michelle, who marched in Port-au-Prince.
Violence has increased over the past year despite the prime minister’s pledges to crack down.
Kidnappings in Haiti increased 180% in 2021, with 655 reported to police, according to a mid-February report by the U.N. Security Council. Authorities believe the number could be higher, since many kidnappings go unreported.
Along with violence, Haiti has been dealing with the sluggish investigation into President Jovenel Moïse’s assassination on July 7, 2021, and recovery from a magnitude-7.2 earthquake that killed more than 2,200 people last August in the south of the country.
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