The Militant(logo) 
    Vol.61/No.33           September 28, 1997 
Protests Condemn Drowning In Haiti  

Haitian protesters held demonstrations against the government and UN personnel for two days in Montrouis after an estimated 245 people drowned when a ferry boat capsized. The vessel toppled over September 8 as passengers tried to keep it from tilting as it approached the beach. The boat began swaying when people prepared to leave for rowboats to take them ashore. Survivors of the disaster said about 700 people were crammed on the ferry, which had no life jackets. Some of the doors were bolted shut, trapping hundreds of people inside as water gushed through.

The tragedy - the sixth such ferry disaster in Haiti in the last five years - is considered the worst in Haiti since 1993, when the Neptune sank carrying 1,000 people, and as many as 700 drowned. More than 100 people died when a boat sank in March last year.

There are virtually no regulations of routes and vessels by the Haitian government and for years residents in Montrouis have demanded the regime build a pier for passengers to walk safely ashore. Ferry travel is the only means of transportation to certain parts of the country for many Haitians because of bad or nonexistent roads.

Finance Minister Frederick Joseph said building a dock would cost $1 million, "but our resources are limited." Meanwhile, imperialist financial institutions have blocked sending hundreds of millions of dollars of international aid while pressing the Haitian government to implement demands to sell off state-owned enterprises and other "reform initiatives."  
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