The government announced a substantial increase in the price of fuel that will further squeeze a population already struggling with soaring costs of living. It announced on Wednesday that the price of gas will more than double, with slightly smaller increases for diesel and kerosene. The government has justified the price increase by saying that it is no longer tenable to subsidise fuel as much as it used to.
Haiti had previously received its petroleum from Venezuela’s Petrocaribe programme, which shut down several years ago. Since then, it has helped subsidise local distributors who import fuel.
Protesters blocked roads throughout the capital Port-Au-Prince, closing off usually busy areas of the city to traffic. Schools and businesses closed as streets were blocked with rocks, vehicles, and burning tyres. Many people in Haiti depend on fuel not only for transportation, but also for electricity and cooking.
“It’s a very challenging time for Haiti right now,” Haitian journalist Harold Isaac explained. “We’re facing a compounding set of crises, the latest one being the gas crisis that really has made life very difficult for everyday folks here.”