Stanley Cesaire manages to mug for the camera, with a smile full of chipped teeth, despite the fact he’s recovering in hospital with two bullet wounds in his lower legs, after Haitian police shot him during protests last week in Port-au-Prince.
“You see this?” the 21-year-old part-time mechanic says, gesturing to his legs, “The president sent the police to come shoot young people.”
Cesaire says he was at a protest “fighting for our rights” when police cracked down and opened fire. His message, like that of so many others in Port-au-Prince, is clearly directed at President Jovenel Moïse.
Since Feb. 7, protests have erupted across Haiti over billions of dollars in allegedly misappropriated government dollars and a miserable devaluation of the Haitian currency, the gourde.
“They call me whenever there is a situation,” says Alexa Brierre, the 29-year-old hospital administrator. She says the victims were bystanders, participants, gangsters, even police.
“We refocused our entire emergency room to treat gunshot victims,” she says.
The hospital is dangerously low in supplies of oxygen, blood, anaesthesia and other medicines.
Dambreville says that even though Monday was quiet, the battle isn’t over.
“We have to fight. We have to fight for the change, you know?” she says, “When you have nothing, you are crying, crying, crying. Nobody saw you. You have to do something. You have to fight, OK?”
“We don’t know what will happen in three hours from now,” says Wickelson. “People can’t eat, they can’t feed their families. The poverty and misery is much worse compared to the last years.”
The gourde is running around 86 to $1 U.S. It’s worth around half of what it was worth in 2010, after the major earthquake, and salaries have not kept up.
A group of Canadian medical volunteers with Team Broken Earth was working at Bernard Mevs Hospital last week and gave some much needed relief to Haitian staff, who were sometimes unable to even reach the hospital because of the protests and roadblocks.
“I was so grateful they were here at this time,” says Dr. Rivette Monaly, “They slept at the hospital.”
For Haitians like Cesaire, though, more of the fix needs to come from within.