Haiti has announced steep increases in fuel prices despite fears the move will crush an already fragile economy, push even more people to flee the country and trigger the kind of protests that have often paralyzed the capital.
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Haiti on Wednesday announced steep increases in fuel prices despite fears the move would crush an already fragile economy, push even more people to flee the country and trigger the kind of protests that have often paralyzed the capital.
The government-set price of a gallon of gasoline is to drop from 250 gourdes ($2) to 570 gourdes ($4.78), while diesel will drop from 353 gourdes ($3) to 670 gourdes ($5. $60) and kerosene from 352 gourdes ($3) to 665 gourdes ($5.57).
The government said prices were rising because it could no longer afford to heavily subsidize fuel as it once did. Previously, Haiti received all of its oil under Venezuela’s Petrocaribe program, which ended several years ago. Since then, the government has allowed local distributors to import fuel and subsidized their purchases.
Protesters against rising prices blocked Port-au-Prince’s roads on Wednesday with rocks, burning tires, metal doors and even a bed frame, leaving the normally bustling capital void of traffic. Schools and businesses, including banks, also closed as columns of black smoke rose across the city.
Marc André, a 28-year-old motorbike taxi driver, said he was selling his night bike and crossing the border to neighboring Dominican Republic to seek a construction job.
“The price I’m going to charge most people won’t be able to afford,” he said. “It is better that I leave the country.
The government did not say when the new fuel prices would come into effect, but tweeted that “prices in Haiti are significantly lower than in the international market.”
Prime Minister Ariel Henry had warned in a nationwide address early Monday that fuel prices would rise, although his administration did not release details until Wednesday.
A few thousand Haitians protested the impending increases on Tuesday while demanding a crackdown on rising violence and a reduction in the price of basic supplies amid a 30% inflation rate.