Protesters, police clash in Haiti as unrest continues

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Protesters clashed with police yesterday in Haiti's capital while a general strike kept most people at home across the country in a fourth day of unrest sparked by a now-rescinded Government plan to raise fuel prices in the impoverished nation.

Demonstrators linked to various opposition factions marched on the Parliament building but were turned back by police. Protesters also set fire to a tax office in the Tabarre area of the capital.

But much of Port-au-Prince and the country shut down. The general strike halted the mini-buses and taxis that most Haitians depend on to get to work or school. Most businesses closed after the people took advantage of the protests to loot shops around the capital.

Public Security Secretary Ronsard Saint Cyr and leaders of the House of Deputies and Senate called for an end to the protests and to the general strike.

Protests erupted Friday hours before the Government-set price of fuel was to rise by up to 50 per cent, part of a plan endorsed by the International Monetary Fund to modernise the economy.

The Haitian Government cancelled the increase amid protests that left several people dead and prompted airlines to cancel flights to the impoverished country.

Flights have resumed, allowing people who had been stuck in Haiti over the weekend, including groups of US missionaries, to leave the country.

In the meantime, the Canadian Government is warning citizens to “avoid non-essential travel” to the French-speaking Caribbean country due to unrest.

“Protesters have set up burning barricades in the main streets of Port-au-Prince, as well as in residential neighbourhoods,” read a tweet at travel.gc.ca on Sunday. “Limit your movements.”

The US Embassy in Haiti has also warned Americans about “non-emergency travel”.

“Due to continuing demonstrations, roadblocks and violence across Port-au-Prince, the embassy is prohibiting all non-emergency travel into Haiti by its employees,” the statement said. “All other embassy personnel are still under a Shelter in Place order.”

The embassy urged Americans in Haiti to “contact your family to keep them informed of your welfare and whereabouts”, and to avoid protests and any large gathering of people.

“Do not attempt to drive through roadblocks,” it cautioned. “If you encounter a roadblock, turn around and get to a safe area.”

— Additional reporting

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