Police say three dead in Haiti demos but opposition dispute Toll.

© AFP | A Haitian demonstrator shouts during a protest over corruption in Port-au-Prince — police say three people were shot dead in nationwide protests, but the opposition puts the toll at 11 so far

PORT-AU-PRINCE (AFP) – 

Three people were killed by gunfire in Haiti during weekend mass protests in several cities calling for the resignation of President Jovenel Moise, police said Monday, but the opposition put the death toll at 11.

One man was killed Sunday in Petionville in the greater Port-au-Prince area, national police spokesman Gary Desrosiers told reporters, adding that an inquiry had been opened to determine the source of the shots.

Some witnesses have suggested that a private security guard fired the fatal shot, while one journalist pointed the finger at police, Desrosiers added.

The other two fatalities occurred in Petit-Goave, 75 kilometers (45 miles) west of the capital, and in Cap-Haitien, the country’s second-largest city located on the northern coast.

In the latter case, a security guard for a gas station was responsible.

Police said they recorded six other gunshot-related deaths on Sunday, but they were not linked to the nationwide demonstrations.

The spasm of violence came as several thousand mainly young protesters filled the streets of Port-au-Prince, Cap-Haitien, and other cities to denounce corruption in the impoverished Caribbean nation.

The protests were part of a sporadic movement that began during the summer over a scandal at the heart of a Venezuelan aid program known as Petrocaribe.

Through Petrocaribe, Venezuela for years supplied Haiti and other Caribbean and Central American countries with oil at cut-rate prices and on easy credit terms.

But investigations by the Haitian Senate in 2016 and 2017 concluded that nearly $2 billion from the program were misused.

A dozen of Haiti’s former cabinet ministers — all members of the current ruling party — have been implicated but no legal proceedings have followed, sparking public anger.

Moise is seen as blocking any court action over the scandal.

His opponents accused security forces of minimizing the death toll from Sunday’s day of action, with attorney Andre Michel — a member of one of the groups that organized it — putting the death toll at 11.

Forty-seven others were wounded on Sunday by rocks or flying debris, Michel said.

The opposition was, however, unable to give details about the deaths.

When asked about the difference in the death toll, Desrosiers was cautious, telling reporters: “We don’t reply case-by-case to figures offered by other groups. Our figures are based on facts that we verified.”