Violence erupts at budget opposition protest in Haiti

(AFP) – Demonstrators in Haiti took to the streets of Port-au-Prince Saturday for an opposition-backed protest against the government budget, which many believe hurts the nation’s poorest.

The unpopular budget, released in July, will come into effect on October 1 — with opponents of President Jovenel Moses concerned poorer families will suffer tax increases.

After three hours, violence erupted on the sidelines of the peaceful procession of around 2,000 people as it arrived in the affluent area of Petionville.

Protesters dispersed from the march — the latest in a series of demonstrations this month — breaking shop windows and targeting vehicles and media covering the event with stones.

Some demanding the removal of Moses said they threw stones to demonstrate the issue had escalated past the point of no return.

“We need someone in power who can help the poorest people to survive, not once again favor the richest,” protester Rene Sanon Fils, parading on Saturday by motorcycle, told AFP.

“If today Jovenel refuses to listen to reason, we will take our challenge to another level. Notice to everyone for the coming week: sharpen your machetes, we will tear off those that are only weeds,” he warned.

During the second half of the march, demonstrators also blocked traffic using barricades made of stones and garbage.

Police were forced to use tear gas grenades to contain the violence, denounced by the political parties who organized the protest.

Opposition lawmakers have decried the budget for fiscal year 2017-2018, saying it would balloon Haiti’s debt.

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