PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — An anti-government general strike today had only mixed success as shops in affluent neighborhoods of the capital remained shut but many shops in poor districts were open and buses were running.
"It (the strike) does not look like a success," said a taxi driver driving a reporter around the capital early in the day.
Several presidential candidates and a leading trade union called the strike to protest election-day massacres on Nov. 29. The electoral council called off voting after gunmen terrorized voters, killing at least 35 people.
Shops opened as usual today in poor neighborhoods, including the slum districts of Belet and Dessalines Street in downtown Port-au-Prince. Grocery stores sold basic provisions and crowded markets sold furniture, meat and other goods.
Groups of restless youths stood near the markets, a reminder of possible violence many Haitians had feared might accompany a strike. No violence was reported.
Buses Ordered to Roll
Occasional troop-carrier trucks filled with armed soldiers in olive green uniforms patrolled city streets.
Commuter buses were running, though fewer than normal. Blue-shirted police visited bus stations, recorded bus numbers and ordered drivers to get to work, witnesses said.
"Many people can't afford to strike," the taxi driver said. For the many undernourished Haitians who are paid day-to-day, a day without working can mean a day without food.
Shops on the more affluent Rue des Miracles and Rue Pave remained shut. "The shop owners are afraid people will wreck their shops," the taxi driver said.
Activity at the airport looked normal. No flights were canceled.
Leading presidential candidates Sylvio Claude and Louis Dejoie and the Autonomous Union of Haitian Workers called for an indefinite strike starting today. The two other front-runners, Marc Bazin and Gerard Gourgue, called for a two-day general strike today and Tuesday.