- - Monday, October 1, 2012

PORT-AU-PRINCE — Several thousand people poured into the streets of Haiti’s capital Sunday to protest the government of President Michel Martelly.

Demonstrators’ complaints included the high cost of living and allegations of corruption as they snaked through Port-au-Prince.

Some protesters carried small red cards to suggest that Mr. Martelly has committed too many fouls since the former pop music star was sworn in as president in May 2011.

The Martelly government had no immediate public reaction to the protest.

Mr. Martelly, a musician before he turned to politics, presented himself as an outsider when he ran for the presidency. He promised free schooling and houses for people displaced by a massive 2010 earthquake.

But some Haitians complain that Mr. Martelly has fallen short of improving their lives in one of the poorest countries in the world.

“The president has made so many promises but nothing has become a reality,” protester Max Dorlien said. “It’s only a clique of his friends who are making money.”

The Sunday protest followed several weeks of mostly peaceful demonstrations in the countryside.

It also marked the 21st anniversary of the first ouster of two-time President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a former priest who returned to Haiti last year after seven years in exile.


Fatal shooting mars election campaign

CARACAS — Supporters of Venezuelan presidential candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski had just set out in a caravan of cars for an afternoon of campaigning when they came to a road blocked by a crowd of President Hugo Chavez’s loyalists.

Witnesses said some people in the caravan had gotten out to try to persuade the Chavez supporters to let them through when gunfire rang out.

Two Capriles supporters died in the violence on Saturday in the western state of Barinas, and a third was seriously wounded.

There have been other spasms of violence in the heated campaign ahead of Venezuela’s Oct. 7 election, but this was the first fatal incident, and it sharply ratcheted up tensions.

Mr. Capriles condemned the violence Sunday, saying at a campaign rally: “The time of hatred is going to be buried in Venezuela.”

Mr. Chavez also called for calm, saying: “It’s not with violence that we’re going to face each other. It’s vote against vote.”

Justice Minister Tareck El Aissami said Sunday in a post on Twitter that one suspect was arrested in the killings, though he didn’t identify the suspect or say how he was captured.

Opposition politician Pedro Castillo, who was in the caravan and witnessed the violence, said there was no physical confrontation before the shooting erupted.


Chrysler auto workers accept new contract

TORONTO — Canadian auto workers at Chrysler ratified a new contract with the automaker, the auto union said Sunday.

The Canadian Auto Workers union said 90 percent of those voting approved the tentative deal that was reached last week.

It was not immediately clear how many of the 8,000 workers at Chrysler’s plants in Ontario cast ballots in the ratification vote held this weekend.

The four-year deal includes lump sum payments, as well as job security provisions.

The agreement is based on agreements already accepted by union members at Ford and General Motors. Ford and GM workers ratified their agreements by margins of 82 percent and 73 percent, respectively.

Chrysler was the last of the Big Three North American automakers to hammer out a contract, ending the possibility of strikes and that production would move to the U.S. in the next four years.

The auto companies had said Canada was the most expensive place in the world to make cars and trucks, and warned they could move production south if the Canadian Auto Workers didn’t cut costs. The union represents about 21,000 auto workers in Canada and about 16 percent of auto production in North America.

Canada’s advantages in the past — a weak Canadian dollar and government health care — have all but vanished compared with U.S. factories.

The Chrysler agreement includes a $3,049 ratification bonus for workers, as well as cost of living lump sum payments of $2,033 for each year of the next three years.


Ex-premier claims bloodless coup

KINGSTON, Jamaica — Curacao’s former leader was holed up Sunday inside what used to be his official offices, accusing the acting governor of overstepping her constitutional powers by forming an interim government three weeks before general elections on the Dutch Caribbean island.

But the Dutch government said in a statement that former Prime Minister Gerrit Schotte’s administration was legally replaced and urged the interim government to make sure the run up to the Oct. 19 election and the vote itself run smoothly.

Mr. Schotte dissolved Parliament and called elections after his government lost its legislative majority Aug. 3.

Then acting Gov. Adeel van der Pluijm-Vrede swore in a new administration to replace Mr. Schotte’s on Saturday, something he called a bloodless “coup.”

Mr. Schotte insisted there should have been no changes until the election in which he plans to run again as leader of the Curacao Future Movement.

“The reality is that this is a coup because they have no constitutional basis to do this. There is some hidden agenda to stop the election or manipulate the election,” Mr. Schotte told the Associated Press on Sunday by telephone from the prime minister’s offices, where he said he slept on a sofa overnight.

Several supporters have joined him in the government house in Willemstad, he said.

Mr. Schotte is seeking support from regional governments including Venezuela, 35 miles away. Meanwhile, he’s been sending “the message to everyone to stay relaxed.”

On Sunday, Curacao issued a statement stressing that the appointment of interim leader Stanley Betrian and three other ministers was “based on the will of a majority in Parliament.”

Five political parties had called for an interim government to prepare for the Oct. 19 vote and manage the island’s affairs.

Parliamentarians also have alleged that Mr. Schotte was misusing public funds to help his faction, a claim he denies.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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