Conflicts & War

Haitians protest hike in fuel prices

Port-au-Prince, Dec 10 (EFE).- People took to the streets of this capital Friday to protest a decision by Haiti’s provisional government to increase prices of gasoline and other fuels.

“Who is Ariel to raise the price of fuel?,” demonstrators chanted, referring to Prime Minister Ariel Henry, installed in the wake of the July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moise.

Some protesters erected burning barricades on main thoroughfares in Port-au-Prince in opposition to the price hikes announced Tuesday by the government.

Starting Friday, the price of gas at the pump went from the equivalent of $2.01 per gallon to $2.50, while the price of diesel more than doubled, from $1.69 to $3.53 a gallon.

Kerosene, used by rural dweller and the urban poor to light lamps, now costs $3.52 a gallon, up from $1.63 on Thursday.

Henry said the price hikes were necessary because Haiti can no longer afford to spend $300 million a year on fuel subsidies.

The increases in the price of fuel have already led to higher fares on public buses.

Shoppers also encountered higher prices for basic goods on Friday due to the growth in transportation costs in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

Moise’s attempt to eliminate fuel subsidies in July 2018 sparked violent protests and left the president permanently weakened politically.

The dramatic price increases come barely a month after the boss of Haiti’s most powerful federation of gangs had his men suspend the blockade of the Varreux oil terminal in the capital’s port and cease attacks on tanker trucks.

G9, led by former police officer Jimmy “Barbecue” Cherizier, began obstructing fuel deliveries in mid-September and progressively worsening shortages have crippled the already struggling Haitian economy.

The warlord accuses that Henry of involvement in the assassination of Moise, slain inside his private residence in an affluent neighborhood of the capital despite the presence of a large security detail.

In September, Henry fired the prosecutor leading the probe of Moise’s murder after the lawyer asked a judge to formally designate the caretaker prime minister as a suspect.

The prosecutor took that step after Henry rebuffed a request to answer questions about telephone calls he made to the accused mastermind of the assassination in the hours following the crime.

EFE mm/dr

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