Haiti Unrest: US Citizens Left Stranded After Violent Fuel-Hike Protests

NTD Newsroom
By NTD Newsroom
July 9, 2018World News
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Haiti Unrest: US Citizens Left Stranded After Violent Fuel-Hike Protests
A demonstrator throws plastics onto a smoldering barricade in central Port-au-Prince, July 9, 2018, following two days of deadly looting and arson triggered by a quickly-aborted government attempt to raise fuel prices. (HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)

American citizens in Haiti are having difficulty leaving the impoverished country due to violent protests following a fuel price hike by the government.

A July 8 alert issued by the U.S, Embassy in Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital, warned its citizens to “shelter in place,” and to cease travel to the airport unless they’d confirmed their flights were still scheduled. The alert also warned that there was limited food and beverage available at the airport.

“Due to continuing demonstrations, roadblocks, and violence across Port-au-Prince and throughout Haiti, U.S. citizens should continue to shelter in place,” the warning said. “Do not travel to the airport unless you confirmed your flight is departing.”

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People loot shops in Delmas, a commune near Port-au-Prince, during protests against the rising price of fuel, on July 8, 2018. (HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)

On Friday, Haiti’s Commerce and Economic ministries first announced they would lower fuel subsidies in order to generate more tax revenue that would help fund government services. This translated to a 38 percent jump for gasoline and 47 percent for diesel, Reuters reported.

One day before the alert, Prime Minister Jack Guy Lafontant announced a temporary suspension of the double-digit government hike, which affected prices for gasoline, diesel, and kerosene. After the suspension, the unrest persisted.

The protestors—made up of mostly youths—used felled trees and large rocks to block roads. They also piled tires on roads and set them alight, sending up thick clouds of black smoke.

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Protesters barricade a street in the Port-au-Prince suburb of Petion-Ville on July 7, 2018, to protest against the increase in fuel prices. (HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)
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Burning cars that were burned during looting that occurred at a market are seen in Delmas, a commune of Port-au-Prince, during protests against the rising price of fuel, on July 8, 2018. (HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)

In some areas of protest, police used tear gas to try and disperse the unruly crowds. Burned up cars could also be seen across several areas in the capital including in front of the Best Western and Oasis hotels, in the capital’s southern hilltop suburb of Petion-Ville, as well as near the offices of telecommunications company Natcom.

Footage released by HaitiInfoProject show what appears to be thousands of anti-government protesters taking to the streets on Sunday evening. According to the site, the protestors were demanding the resignation of Haitian President Jovenel Moise.

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Haitian police arrive to control the situation after looting at a store in Delmas, a commune near Port-au-Prince, during protests against the rising price of fuel, on July 8, 2018. (HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)

Violent protests at a shopping center in Petion-Ville left retail stores destroyed with broken glass and merchandise scattered on the floor, Reuters reported. Photos show evidence of turmoil as looted stores and burnt remains of items and rubbish are seen everywhere on the ground.

“If you do decide to leave your residence or hotel to travel to the airport, pls exercise extreme caution,” the U.S. embassy in Haiti warned on Twitter. “There are disruptions and roadblocks along both Routes National 1 & 2 entering into Port-au-Prince. Do not drive through roadblocks.”

Road Back Home

Multiple reports in the media said that over 100 American missionaries in Haiti remain trapped there as of Monday morning due to violence in the streets. Thirteen people from the group were part of the Chapin United Methodist Church, whose mission trips were coordinated through Mission of Hope Haiti, based in Texas.

Jody Flowers, the lead minister from the church, said that the group in Haiti were scheduled to arrive back in Atlanta on Monday evening, confirmed via email by Caroline Fogle, an administrative assistant.

“Some great news! The Chapin UMC team has arrived safely at the airport in Port-au-Prince. They’re scheduled to arrive in ATL at 7:01 pm! Once they’re on the ground and I speak with Emily, we will post an ETA for Chapin,” Flowers said in a statement. Emily is the team leader of the group.

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People flee Haitian police after looting shops in Delmas, a commune near Port-au-Prince, during protests against the rising price of fuel, on July 8, 2018. (HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)

A different youth missionary group, organized by non-profit organization myLIFEspeaks, who were stuck in Haiti also announced July 9 that they had arrived safely at the airport.

“The Woodland Community Church and The Glade Church team arrived safely at the airport in Port-au-Prince this morning! They are scheduled to return home to the U.S later today,” the nonprofit wrote on Facebook. “Thank you for praying for this incredible group during their extended stay in Neply!”

The Woodland Community Church and The Glade Church team arrived safely at the airport in Port-au-Prince this morning!…

Posted by my LIFE speaks on Monday, July 9, 2018

Dozens of travelers at the Toussaint Louverture international airport remain stranded as they wait for flights to resume. Flights going out of Haiti are overbooked and large crowds and delays are expected, the U.S. embassy warned.

The fuel hike was made as part of an agreement with the International Monetary Fund, which required the country to instill measures that would boost government revenue and services, in a bid to re-strengthen the economy.

According to a 2012 survey by the World Bank Group, an international financial institution that provides loans to developing countries, more than 6 million out of 10.4 million Haitians (59 percent) were living below the national poverty line of $2.41 per day and over 2.5 million (24 percent) were living below the national extreme poverty line of $1.23 per day. Economic growth has also slowed to 1 percent.

The U.S. Embassy in Haiti was closed for routine services on Monday, according to the alert. Canadian and Mexican embassies in Haiti also announced they would be closed the same day.

A July 9 warning from the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs said they “continue to strongly advise U.S. citizens to reconsider travel to Haiti due to crime, civil unrest, & USEmbassyHaiti’s limited ability to provide assistance.”

On July 8, a spokesman for U.S. carrier American Airlines Group Inc told Reuters it had canceled three out of seven round-trip flights scheduled to stop in Port-au-Prince. The carrier’s Sunday route to Haiti’s Cap-Haitien airport had not been canceled. JetBlue Airways also canceled its flights to Haiti on Sunday.

From The Epoch Times

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