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A startling photo of a pistol-wielding senator highlights Haiti’s many crises

AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery
Ruling party Senator Ralph Fethiere fires his gun outside Parliament in Port-au-Prince.
By Johnny Simon
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

A terrifying scene unfolded in the Haitian capital of Port-Au-Prince yesterday when a senator arriving at  parliament brandished a pistol and fired warning shots amid a crowd of protesters.

Associated Press photojournalist Dieu Nalio Chery—whose images of the event are included in this story—was among those injured in the chaos.

Protests and violence have roiled Port-au-Prince for weeks. Ruling party senator Jean Marie Ralph Fethiere was near the parliament building when demonstrators gathered at the door of his pickup truck. He emerged from the vehicle brandishing a pistol and fired off several shots into the air that he claims were in self defense. A Reuters video showcases how that moment unfolded. Senator Willot Joseph also pulled out his gun.

AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery
Senator Willot Joseph holds a gun as he arrives to parliament in Port-au-Prince on Sept. 23. Joseph pulled a pistol when opposition party supporters rushed at him and members of his entourage.

Numerous scandals and crises are unfolding in Haiti after former prime minster  Jean Henry Céant was dismissed and his government collapsed in March. The senators were arriving at parliament to vote on the man nominated to take his place, Fritz William Michel.

Haiti is also in the midst of a paralyzing fuel crisis. Its main supplier of oil, Venezuela, has ceased exports as it deals with its own political and economic issues and the country is deeply in debt to US energy-trading firms. Haiti’s unreliable power grid only covers a fifth of the country, so most energy for homes, schools and hospitals comes from diesel generators.

AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery
Ruling party senator Ralph Fethiere fires his gun in Port-au-Prince.
Reuters/Andres Martinez Casares
A protester confronts Haitian national police officers during a Sept. 20 Port-au-Prince demonstration sparked by the shortage of fuel.

The Miami Herald has been reporting on the continuing shortage, which has crippled nearly every aspect of daily life. Reporter Jacqueline Charles describes a dysfunctional capital where the streets present “obstacle courses of flaming barricades, parked cars, and shuttered schools and businesses as employees fail to show and public transport stops running.”

The instability has strengthened the calls for the resignation of president Jovenel Moïse, who has already been the target of mass protests after the uncovering of extensive corruption.

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