Haitian police have fired tear gas at thousands of people marching in the streets of the capital, Port-au-Prince, to protest against the government’s handling of crippling fuel shortages and soaring prices.
Footage on Monday showed a man being carried on a stretcher after suffering a leg injury. Police also fired guns into the air to disperse the crowds.
Haiti is experiencing a worsening public health and safety crisis as gangs have erected road blockades in and around Port-au-Prince in anger over fuel price hikes. The blockades have cut off residents and medical facilities from access to clean water and gas.
Gang violence has worsened in the poorest country in the Americas since the assassination of President Jovenel Moise in July last year, which plunged Haiti into deeper political instability.
Monday’s protest took place on the day schools were meant to reopen after the country’s economic woes caused a one-month postponement of the resumption of classes following the summer break.
“If the prime minister solves insecurity and hunger, if he can solve the gang problems in the country and manage the crisis, there will be no problem in restarting classes,” a protester who identified himself as Wilgens told the Reuters news agency. “If he has no answers to these questions, he must leave power and hand it to the right person.”
Another protester, identified as Marckenson, called for Prime Minister Ariel Henry to step down.
“Ariel does not have the dignity to open the schools,” he said. “We will open the schools, and Ariel must leave.”
Henry has acknowledged the right of people to protest but condemned people involved in looting, vandalism and violence.
The latest protest came a day after health authorities said at least seven people had died of cholera. The deaths indicated the problems Haitians have with access to clean drinking water.
An outbreak of the disease killed about 10,000 people in 2010.
Last week, a local rights group said the road blockades had cut off communities north of the capital from clean drinking water and other essential supplies for four days.
Hospitals also warned they would have to reduce staffing and services due to a lack of fuel.