Haiti descends deeper into economic crisis amid violence
By Milo Milfort
Port-au-Prince, Sep 2 (EFE).- The high cost of living in Haiti is making life difficult for locals, who have already been pummeled by the shortage of fuel, an unprecedented sociopolitical crisis and violence by armed gangs fighting for control over the territory.
Many Haitians are forced to go hungry, such as Daphney, a trader at the capital’s Pétion-Ville street market.
“Life is hard for me, I cannot buy food. I cannot buy anything. I have a business, but people do not come to buy things,” she told EFE, sitting along with one of her children as she displayed her product: ginger.
Another trader, Marie, has spent nearly three years selling her wares in Tabarre, close to the United States’ embassy in Haiti, and told EFE that the prices have remained unchanged, despite the authorities announcing measures to reduce the cost of living.
“There is no change. The price at which I buy the products has not changed. Chicken continues to be expensive, only the price of beans has dropped a bit. A sack of rice is selling for 3,000 gourdes (around $20),” she said.
In Port-au-Prince and other cities, protests have been held against the price rise and the shortage of fuel, with at least five people being killed and many others wounded.
Haiti’s economic situation is worrying, the governor of the Bank of the Republic of Haiti acknowledged, given the finance ministry predicting a 0.4 percent contraction of the economy.
The macroeconomy has developed significant challenges, as inflation in June climbed to 29 percent, its highest in debate, while the price of imported products has surged above 40 percent.
Armed gangs have aggravated the crisis with their actions, including blocking the southern entry to the capital, which has cut-off four departments from the rest of the country.
These areas produce consumption items supplied to Port-au-Prince, so that the blockade has affected the country’s economy amid three months of severe fuel shortage.
Armed conflict in Haiti has risen in recent years, with a surge in robbery and rapes, while kidnapping and murders have also reached alarming levels, terrorizing a population unable to continue with normal life.
Dubois said that people not leaving their houses had negatively affected the consumption of goods and practices, with domestic tourism grinding to a halt and people unable to access the customs area, leading to a drop in duties and firearms entering the country unchecked.
Moreover, rising migration from the island due to lack of security has led to growing remittances to other countries, especially the neighboring Dominican Republic.
Haitian authorities have announced a series of measures to reduce the cost of living, such as making it mandatory to display prices in gourdes and injecting around $100-150 million in the currency market.
“(Liquidy) infusions never produce lasting results. This is not the first time that the central bank has injected capital, but it does not lead to stabilization,” said economist Enomy Germain.
Another measure imposed by the government was significantly reducing the value of the US Dollar in terms of the local currency, but less than a week later the US currency began to recover sharply, threatening to breach even the earlier mark of 150 gourdes per dollar. EFE