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Haiti government asks for patience amid fuel price protests

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Barricades placed by demonstrators are seen on the streets of Petion Ville, in the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, on July 6, 2018, to protest against the increase in fuel prices.<br />The Haitian government announced a significant increase in fuel prices on Friday, July 6, 2018. The Ministries of Economy, Finance, Trade and Industry decided to increase gas prices by 38 percent, diesel by 47 percent, and kerosene by 51 percent starting on Saturday, July 7, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / HECTOR RETAMAL

Haiti’s prime minister on Saturday called for patience from residents of the Caribbean nation amid deadly protests over an unpopular fuel price rise.

At least one person has died there in the past day.

The capital Port-au-Prince has stood paralyzed since Friday afternoon with major routes blocked, following the government announcement that gasoline prices would rise by 38 percent, diesel by 47 percent and kerosene by 51 percent starting this weekend.

“I ask your patience because our administration has a vision, a clear program,” said Prime Minister Jack Guy Lafontant. “Do not destroy, because every time it’s Haiti that becomes poorer.”

“The country is under construction but if each time we destroy we will always lag behind,” he added, as many shop and car windows stood shattered in wealthy neighborhoods.

On Friday night the bodyguard of a politician died in an altercation with demonstrators in Port-au-Prince as he attempted to force a passage through a roadblock. His body was then burned in the road.

The national police director pleaded for calm.

“We understand your right to protest,” said Michel-Ange Gedeon. “But we do not understand the violence.”

At least two police stations and several police vehicles have also been burned.

A framework signed in February between the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Haiti implied the ending of subsidies for petroleum products, which are a major source of the budget deficit but which also help make fuel affordable in the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country.


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