The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is deeply concerned at the violent protest in Haiti, a Member State of the Community.
This is according to current Chairman of CARICOM, Andrew Holness, who in speaking on behalf of the Community, in a statement, said that “The Community deplores the loss of life, property and the damage to infrastructure and calls for restraint and an end to the protests and the violence.”
Moreover, he posited that the Community notes that the issues that have triggered these protests can only be resolved in an atmosphere of calm.
“In that regard the Community welcomes actions being taken to defuse the situation” Holness said. “The Community looks forward to an early return to normalcy and welcomes in the interim, the support of the United Nations in monitoring the situation.”
Haiti’s troubles were sparked by a government announcement that gasoline prices would rise by 38 per cent, diesel by 47 per cent and kerosene by 51 per cent starting on Saturday last.
The capital Port-au-Prince and its environs had stood paralysed since Friday afternoon, with major routes blocked by barricades, some made of burning tires, and some protesters even calling for a revolution in the impoverished country.
According to the AFP, at least one person died in violence overnight Friday, and an AFP reporter heard the sound of sporadic gunfire in the capital.
Shop and car windows in some affluent districts were broken. Similar angry protests broke out in Cap-Haitien, the second-largest city, as well as in the communes of Les Cayes, Jacmel and Petit-Goave.
Just before the suspension was announced, the leader of Haiti’s lower house of parliament had threatened a government takeover if the fuel price increases were not reversed.
On Friday night the bodyguard of an opposition-party politician died in an altercation with demonstrators in central Port-au-Prince as he attempted to force a passage through a roadblock. His body was then burned in the road.
According to the AFP, 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 subsidies also help make fuel affordable in the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country, where most people live in extreme poverty, joblessness is widespread and the inflation rate has exceeded 13 percent for the past three years.
Following the deadly and violent protests, Haiti’s Prime Minister Jack Guy Lafontant on Saturday announced the suspension “until further notice” of the unpopular fuel price hike.