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1,000 marchers protest plan to destroy informal housing
Submitted by CHAN on June 26, 2012 - 11:22
By Evens Sanon, Associated Press, Tuesday, June 26, 2012
PORT-AU-PRINCE – More than 1,000 Haitians marched through the Caribbean nation’s capital Monday to protest a reported plan to destroy their hillside shanties for a flood-control project before they have found better, more permanent dwellings. The demonstrators snaked through the streets of Pétionville chanting threats to burn down the relatively affluent district if the authorities flatten their homes.
The No. 2 official at the Environment Ministry, Pierre André Gédéon, said on a local radio broadcast last week that officials want to demolish several hundred homes to build channels and reforest the hillsides in an effort to curb the deadly floods that come with the annual rainy season. Many of the threatened homes are in Jalousie, a cinder block shantytown that spreads across a mountainside alongside Petionville.
The protesters said President Michel Martelly fell short on his promise to build homes destroyed in the 2010 earthquake. The disaster destroyed tens of thousands houses in the capital and other cities in the south and officials said 314,000 people died. The government is building hundreds of homes north of the capital but too few to house the more than 400,000 people still living in the precarious settlements that emerged in the aftermath of the quake.
In an effort to move people out of the camps, the Haitian government, foreign aid groups and governments gave one-year rental subsidies. Residents of six camps moved into hillside shanty areas such as Jalouise, where some fear they now face demolition of their new homes.
Port-au-Prince, a city of some 3 million, has seen concrete houses and hovels sprawl across its hills because governments past and present have failed to provide affordable housing. Many of those homes crash down the hills every year during the country's rainy seasons and people often die.
The march on Monday began peacefully but some protesters threw rocks at a towering hotel financed in part by the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, a nonprofit set up after the earthquake by former U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. The demonstrators were angry to see the opulent hotel under construction amid fears that they will lose their homes.
When the protesters reached downtown Port-au-Prince, riot police carrying shields tried to break up the crowds by firing tear gas canisters. Some people threw rocks at the police and also at passing motorists, some of whom had their windows broken. Associated Press reporters saw one woman injured in the head after being hit in the head with a rock.
In Canada the above article appeared in The Gazette (Montreal daily) and the Cape Breton Post. According to various webs searches, it did not appear in any other major Canadian daily, nor was it reported on CBC, notwithstanding the fact that some of those residents facing eviction in Jalousie may well be the displaced from the Canada-funded Champ de Mars camp clearance project this year.
Watch this mail list for a forthcoming, interntional petition demanding that Haitian and international authorities act to establish a housing authority and ministry that could begin to build housing for earthquake victims and other Haitians deprived of their constitutional right to housing.--Website editors