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Thousands of Haitians Protest Upcoming Election, Block Cruise Ship Passengers in Labadee

news-freedom-otsMany news sources are reporting that thousands of Haitian protesters have rioted in the capital, Port-au-Prince, and other locations in Haiti against President Michel Martelly and the upcoming election to determine his successor, which some say is rigged in favor of his ruling party, according to Time magazine. The turmoil comes before the scheduled runoff election this coming Sunday between Jovenel Moïse, who is backed by the current government, and opposition candidate Jude Célestin.

Protests are also taking place today in the port at Labadee, an idyllic 260-acre “private destination” operated by the Royal Caribbean cruise line on the northern coast of the country. Small boatloads of protesters have blocked cruise passengers from disembarking the Freedom of the Seas which arrived in Labadee, Haiti this morning.

The controversy has been witnessed first hand by Tom Fox, a passenger aboard the Freedom of the Seas. Ironically, Fox just retired after 35 year as the publisher of the National Catholic Reporter two weeks ago.

Fox says the cruise ship was met by a number of small vessels packed with protesters clanging pans and shouting. One or two Haitian coast guard vessels kept watch, guiding through and among the other vessels. Fox reports that the demonstration has been non-violent so far. The captain of the Royal Caribbean cruise ship announced that the protests were “due to the upcoming Haitian election.”

It is curious, however, that one of the signs on one of the vessels reads “USA Away,” according to Fox.

In 1986, Royal Caribbean shook hands with the tyrant Baby Doc Duvalier to seal a deal where it obtained exclusive control of 260 acres of sovereign waterfront land from Haiti. Royal Caribbean trademarked its new “private island” —”Labadee®” — derived from the name of the 1600s French plantation baron and slave owner Marquis de La’Badie. It then erected a 12-foot-high security fence around its “island” and hired armed security guards to keep the impoverished Haitians out.

Royal Caribbean ran into a public relations nightmare in 2010 following the earthquake which devastated Port-au-Prince, when it sailed its mega cruise ships into its private resort.

Fox points out that a Freedom of the Seas crew member says that the protest at Labadee has been unprecedented in her 13 years of visiting the port, although Fox tweeted that some crew members doubt that the protests are, in fact, due to the Haitian elections.


What people are saying

2 thoughts on “Thousands of Haitians Protest Upcoming Election, Block Cruise Ship Passengers in Labadee

  1. There's a chance that this was not shoddy reporting but deliberate misdirection in favor of political gain involving the election. I like to always be suspicious of media coverage in the context of racism/white supremacy.

  2. The truth behind this is it has nothing to do with the elections. It is just Royal Caribbean way of twisting the truth. This is about the fact that Royal Caribbean has a private beach that they take their clients to and next to non of the money goes into the economy. They stopped taking passengers to the village of Labadee all together and now pass Labadee for a very small private beach with a mock village owned by a few very wealthy families. The village of Labadee survived on tourism and the only way to get there is by boat. I have been there and it is a beautiful village that has many abandon restaurants and shops due to no patrons to visit them. Carnival has cut deals with a few wealthy individuals and take their passengers to a sanitized destination with no Haitian influence. That is why the people are blockading the boat because they are fed up with they way they got brushed aside and have to watch the ship come in and all the passengers get ferried past them to a beach further down the coast. So Royal Caribbean stop telling lies to make Haiti look like a barbaric country full of unreasonable people and face up to your own actions.

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