PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - Gripped with anger, Haitians took to the streets to demonstrate against the government imposed fuel price hike.
On Monday, as the impoverished nation remained gripped by unrest for the fourth day in a row, over the government’s now rescinded plan to raise fuel prices - protesters clashed with the police in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince.
However, on Monday, a wide spread shut down was witnessed, as a general strike kept most people at home, with mini-buses and taxis remaining out of service.
Meanwhile, demonstrators linked to various opposition factions marched on the parliament building only to be turned back by the police.
Reports however, noted that protesters set fire to a tax office in the Tabarre area of the capital.
Further, following reports of people taking advantage of the general strike and using the protests to loot shops around the capital, most local businesses remained closed on Monday.
In a statement on Monday, Public Security Secretary Ronsard Saint Cyr and leaders of the House of Deputies and Senate called for an end to the protests and the general strike.
On Friday, hours before the government-set price of fuel was to rise by up to 50 percent, part of a plan endorsed by the International Monetary Fund to modernize the economy, protests erupted across the country.
Subsequently, the Haitian government canceled the increase amid protests that left several people dead and prompted airlines to cancel flights.
Further, the U.S. Embassy in Haiti warned its citizens to stay inside amid continued demonstrations in Port-au-Prince and a northern city.
A State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs official warned, ”Do not attempt to travel at this time. Avoid protests and any large gathering of people. Do not attempt to drive through roadblocks.”
However, on Saturday, Prime Minister Jack Guy Lafontant announced a temporary stop to the price increases and appealed for calm.
The Haitian daily newspaper Le Nouvelliste noted that prices for gasoline were to rise 38 percent while diesel prices were to go up 47 percent and kerosene 51 percent.
Late on Monday, some flights resumed, allowing people who had been stuck in Haiti, including groups of U.S. missionaries, to leave the country.