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February 22, 2019

Renewed looting in Haiti ahead of general strike

Renewed looting in Haiti ahead of general strike
'Smoke pours from the Oasis hotel in Port-au-Prince, after cars were burned in the hotel parking lot by protesters angered by plans, since suspended, for sharp rises in fuel prices' - By: AFP HECTOR RETAMAL

Fresh looting broke out on the streets of Haiti's capital Sunday, despite calls for calm after two days of deadly protests over ultimately suspended fuel price hikes.

In the heart of Port-au-Prince, AFP journalists saw some shops ransacked while groups began erecting new road barricades on the capital's outskirts.

Following two days of paralysis in the city, some fruit and vegetable vendors meanwhile tried to resume business, while motorcycle taxis returned to their usual posts despite a dearth of customers.

Airlines including Air France and American Airlines canceled several Sunday morning flights, with additional cancellations possible into the afternoon over staffing shortages.

The troubles were sparked Friday by a government announcement that gasoline prices would rise by 38 percent, diesel by 47 percent and kerosene by 51 percent starting this weekend.

Facing the unrest the government stayed the price rises "until further notice."

President Jovenel Moise called on protesters late Saturday to "go home," saying the about-face on prices had "corrected what had to be corrected."

But the suspension failed to quell the unrest, with protesters demanding the immediate departure of the president and announcing a two-day general strike to begin Monday.

One Haitian, Alphonse Charles, expressed both the frustrations and the sense of fatalism felt by many of his countrymen.

Standing next to the remains of his torched car near burned and looted shops, he laid blame on politicians but lamented that people had gotten "carried away."

"It's the reality of the country: when we live in Haiti we are angry, frustrated with the way things are managed by politicians."

But "I have to go on living," he added. "We will not get carried away just for that."

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