Haiti’s president refuses to step down despite violent protests

A man and two children stand on the porch of their home after it was damaged in an earthquake, that hit northern Haiti late on Saturday, in Port-de-Paix, Haiti. REUTERS/Ricardo Rojas

UNITED STATES (VOP TODAY NEWS) — Haitian President Jovenel Moyes made bold remarks in his first speech since violent protests in the capital defied calls to overthrow him but urged dialogue to tackle rising inflation and alleged misuse of funds.

For days, thousands of protesters demanded the resignation of Moyes and an independent investigation into the funds of the Petrocaribe agreement, an alliance between the Caribbean and Venezuela.

The energy purchase agreement was intended to help provide funds for development in the impoverished country hit by natural disasters and classifies it as the poorest country in the Americas.

The protests, which reportedly killed several people and wounded others, have highlighted widespread concerns about the state of the economy amid growing inflation and hardship for the population to meet basic needs.

In a speech at the presidential palace, Moyes said on Thursday he would not hand over the country to drug traffickers, stressing that dialogue was the only way to prevent a civil war.

“I am President Jovenel Moyes … I will not hand the country over to armed gangs and drug traffickers,” he said, referring to government officials who said they had taken to the streets with “guerrillas wanted by law.”

But he added, “I heard the voice of the people. I know the problems that bother them. That is why the government has taken many measures. I asked the prime minister to explain and apply them without delay to alleviate the suffering.”

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