(Reuters) – Haitian leaders called for calm on Saturday as violent protests over rising fuel prices entered a second day and airlines canceled flights to the Caribbean nation.
Prime Minister Jack Guy Lafontant announced the temporary suspension of double-digit government increases in gasoline, diesel and kerosene prices on Saturday afternoon, just one day after the announcement of the rise of the price of fuel.
But as local television images showed, the government's decision to back down did not prevent angry residents from taking to the streets. Some protesters erected burning barricades, while others attacked hotels and businesses.
"The poor want to be able to eat," a masked protester told Reuters TV as a car burned behind him. "I want to tell (President) Jovenel (Moïse) that Haiti is not for him and his family, Haiti is for every Haitian, he needs to leave the country and leave the country so we can live."
In a statement, Lafontant said the government strongly condemns acts of violence and vandalism.
U.S. The carriers American Airlines ( AAL.O ) and JetBlue ( JBLU.O ) announced flight cancellations on Saturday to the capital, Port-au-Prince, citing civil unrest.
The US Embassy UU In Haiti he advised the staff and the Americans in the country to take refuge in the place.
The US Department of State. UU He said separately that he was aware of vandalism at a Best Western hotel, where the media reported that they were staying American, and at an American Airlines office in downtown Port-au-Prince.
"At this time, we have not received any report from US citizens injured in the incidents," the State Department said in a statement.
On Friday, the Haitian Ministry of Commerce and Economy announced that increases in fuel prices, including a jump of 38 percent for gasoline and 47 percent for diesel, would take effect at midnight.
The now suspended decision of the Moïse government to increase prices was part of an agreement with the International Monetary Fund, which requires the country to enact a series of austerity measures.
Report by David Alire Garcia in Mexico City, Reuters TV in Port-au-Prince, Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles, and David Morgan in Washington; Edition by David Gregorio and G Crosse