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Haiti unrest continues despite fuel hike rollback

July 9, 2018

Looters burned and vandalized shops in the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince as protests over fuel price rises entered a third day. Several US church groups and volunteers are stranded with most flights remaining canceled.

A man pulls a cart as he walks past a burnt car on a street of Port-au-Prince.
Image: Reuters/A. Martinez Casares

Protesters blocked streets in Port-au-Prince in Haiti on Sunday while looters pillaged stores that remained shut for a third day following violent protests over the government's attempt to raise fuel prices.

Several young men were seen stripping shelves bare in some supermarkets that were burned down during the protests.

The unrest began when the government announced that gasoline prices would rise by 38 percent, diesel by 47 percent and kerosene by 51 percent over the weekend.

Following the unrest, Prime Minister Jack Guy Lafontant rolled back the increases on Saturday — just a day after they were announced. But the rioting continued.

Many Haitians are now demanding the immediate departure of President Jovenel Moise.

"If the president stays one more day, the game will take on a new appearance: We will cut off the roads and burn everything, because we have nothing else to lose," said one masked protester.

US volunteers stranded

The US Embassy in Port-au-Prince on Sunday warned its citizens to avoid the unrest and instructed them to reschedule travel plans as several airlines canceled flights.

"Telecommunications services, including Internet and phone lines, have been affected throughout Haiti," the embassy added. "It may be difficult to reach people through normal communication methods."

American Airlines, which had canceled 10 flights since Saturday, said three of its planes had left on Sunday from Port-au-Prince and the northern city of Cap-Haitien bound for Miami and New York. JetBlue Airways flights to Haiti remained cancelled.

Dozens of people were left stranded at Port-au-Prince airport, unable to return to their accommodation due to the streets being blocked and a lack of alternative transportation.

Haitian National police officer in street
Riots continued for a third day in Port-au-PrinceImage: Reuters/A. Martinez Casares

The unrest has also left several US church groups and volunteers stranded in the capital city.

Chapin United Methodist Church in South Carolina posted online that its mission team was safe but stranded. A North Carolina doctor and his son were part of another medical mission group that was unable to leave.

The embassies of France and Canada said they would remain closed on Monday.

Police Director-General Michel-Ange Gedeon ordered officers to crack down on what he called "bandits who disturb the peace and security of the country."

At least three people were killed in protests on Friday. Police on Sunday found the bodies of four people in the streets of the Delmas district, but it wasn't immediately clear if they were victims of the unrest.

ap/ng (AP, Reuters, AFP)

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