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Haiti fuel shortages spark violent protests

September 21, 2019

Crippling fuel shortages have triggered large anti-government protests in Haiti, bringing cities to a standstill. Angry demonstrators are demanding President Jovenel Moise step down amid corruption allegations.

A man protesting in Haiti with a burning barricade in the background
Image: Imago Images/Agencia EFE

Police fired live rounds and tear gas as they clashed with protesters in the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, on Friday.

Demonstrators demanding an end to the fuel crisis erected burning barricades in the streets and pelted officers with stones and glass bottles.

Fuel shortages have plagued the impoverished Caribbean country since mid-August, leading to repeated anti-government rallies. The protesters are calling for the resignation of President Jovenel Moise, who has faced allegations of corruption since entering office in February 2017. Many blame him for the fuel crisis.

Read moreFrom Haiti to Madagascar: The world's forgotten crises

A woman stands next to empty propane tanks used to mark the owners' places in line for fuel
A woman stands next to empty propane tanks used to mark their owners' places in a line for fuelImage: picture-alliance/Abaca/Miami Herald/TNS/C. Juste

The crisis has brought economic activity to a halt in a number of Haitian cities, with schools, businesses and public institutions closing their doors. Lack of supply has led to shuttered gas stations and long lines at the pumps. 

One reason for the shortage is the suspension of Venezuela's corruption-plagued PetroCaribe scheme, which had allowed Haiti to buy petroleum products more cheaply and defer payment for up to 25 years. The Haitian government is heavily indebted, and companies that import oil are now struggling to procure state-subsidized fuel for the domestic market.

During his election campaign, Moise promised "food on every plate and money in every pocket," but the 20% inflation rate has slashed people's purchasing power. 

Read moreHaiti: Thousands protest against corruption

Protesters clash with riot police in Haiti
There have been almost daily clashes between police and protesters in Port-au-PrinceImage: Reuters/A. Martinez Casares

Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world. Around 60% of its population of 11 million live below the poverty line of $2 (€1.80) a day.

nm/kl (EFE, AFP)

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