Unrest in Haiti strands State Department workers and American church groups

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A police officer watches Sunday as a crowd enters a supermarket complex, which had been burned during two days of protests against a planned hike in fuel prices in Port-au-Prince. (Dieu Nalio Chery/AP)

On Saturday, about 120 Americans and 100 Haitians were forced to hole up in the Oasis hotel after demonstrators tried to set the building alight and rush past security. One guest, Stacy Librandi Bourne, explained to CNN what she was experiencing. It’s “a little bit more calm now,” she said. “There’s still a lot of rioting, things like that going on, but I think it’s possible that right now some peace might be restored because of the most recent announcement by the prime minister, that he was going to delay things, the price on the gas.”

Several airlines, including American Airlines, Delta and Jet Blue, have canceled most flights to Port-au-Prince.

The chaos started Friday, when the Haitian government announced its plan to raise prices on gasoline, diesel and kerosene. The proposal would have nearly doubled the cost of fuel. The hike was prompted by the International Monetary Fund, which pushed Haitian officials to reduce government subsidies for fuel. Officials also agreed to increase social services spending, improve infrastructure and do a better job of collecting taxes.

In response, many Haitians rioted. Activists set up flaming roadblocks, bringing travel around the city to a standstill. Looters raided supermarkets and other stores. Others targeted hotels and businesses, according to Reuters. In a report, they wrote that the capital has been “paralyzed.” At least seven people were killed.

 

 

 

 

 

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