Protesters retreat in Haiti but warn government needs to reduce prices or face more chaos

(iht) - Peacekeepers cleared roadblocks and businesses reopened in Haiti's debris-littered capital Thursday, but protesters warned that chaos will return quickly if the government fails to rein in soaring food prices.

Three days of protests and looting in the capital brought a swift political response, with most of Haiti's 27 senators calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis. Protesters said President Rene Preval should be replaced as well if he doesn't find a solution.

"If you can't take care of the country, you are like a leaf and you should fall," said Fortune Metilien, a 42-year-old garbage collector.

Metilien and many of the other protesters carried tree branches to symbolize their support for former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who has vowed to return since a 2004 revolt sent him into exile in South Africa. Many demonstrators sang a popular song that includes the refrain: "If Aristide were here, it wouldn't be like this."

And some people in the Cite Soleil slum, a bastion of Aristide support, said envoys of the Aristide-aligned Rev. Gerard Jean-Juste visited Monday and told them to protest peacefully.

But while some blamed Aristide supporters, others attributed the protests to drug smugglers bent on creating chaos. The unrest began last week in Les Cayes, the base of fugitive rebel leader Guy Philippe who is wanted in the U.S. on drug-smuggling charges. Five people died there.

Robert Fatton, a Haiti expert at the University of Virginia, doubts there is any political motive to the protests at all, describing them as a spontaneous reaction to food prices, which have risen 40 percent globally since mid-2007.

"The protests themselves are very logical given what's happening to the cost of living," he said.

Haiti is particularly affected by the rising prices because people are so poor, and almost all their money goes into buying food.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called this week for emergency aid, and France said Thursday it will send US$1.6 million (€1 million), including US$1.2 million (€800,000) worth of food.

Preval, in his first public comments since the unrest began, pledged Wednesday to help farmers and appealed for a halt to the violence - an appeal that seemed to be working.

On Thursday, some protesters threw rocks at a U.N. building in the Martissant slum, and tires burned elsewhere the city. But routine business resumed across most of Port-au-Prince, the capital of 2 million people, as cars and motorcycles formed long lines at gas stations that had been closed for days.

Even so, it was clear people expected Preval to act fast. Young men in Martissant shouted that the protests will resume quickly if Preval does not bring down the price of rice.

"We heard the speech, but the speech is empty," said student protest organizer Herve Saintiles, 37. "We are going to hold the president responsible for all these problems."

Alexis, Preval's second-in-command, was in a precarious position. He survived a confidence vote over the government's handling of the economy in February, but the senators said they would call another censure vote on Saturday.

Preval was once a protege of Aristide, a popular priest driven from office amid accusations of corruption and that he supported brutal gangs. But Aristide supporters who backed Preval are now turning away from him.

Marie Carmel Jean-Baptiste, a 35-year-old resident of Cite Soleil, said she voted for Preval - but not because she thinks he's a good president.

"I voted Preval to hold on until Aristide comes back," she said.

Parliament head to support all joint efforts for new constitution
Parliament head to support all joint efforts for new constitution
Azerbaijan felt Turkey's support not only during Karabakh war but throughout history - Minister
Azerbaijan felt Turkey's support not only during Karabakh war but throughout history - Minister
Turkish specialists together with Azerbaijan’s AzTV to shoot film in Nagorno-Karabakh region
Turkish specialists together with Azerbaijan’s AzTV to shoot film in Nagorno-Karabakh region
Loading Bars
ExxonMobil to cut 7% of its workforce in Singapore
2021 Emmy Awards to be held in September
Ireland to re-establish diplomatic presence in Iran
Azerbaijan to contribute to development of CE work on organizing AI security
Biden takes steps to help Merck boost Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine supply
US Department of Commerce blacklists 14 entities in Russia, Germany, Switzerland
Chinese embassy opposes Indian media's allegation on cyberattacks
OPEC sees positive oil market outlook, continued downside risks
Iran's CBI discloses number and value of exchanged checks
Italian Parliament demands provision of maps of mined areas of Azerbaijan (PHOTO)
AZAL Announces Conditions for Rebooking Tickets for Flights Canceled due to COVID-19 Pandemic
Singapore's manufacturing PMI falls to 50.5 in February
Promise to provide countries with necessary vaccines within COVAX initiative is not fulfilled - State Agency of Medical Insurance
Parliament head to support all joint efforts for new constitution
Georgian President appreciates EU support
Macron to hold phone talk with Iranian counterpart over JCPOA
OECD recommends Georgia to support land registration reform for increasing FDI-SME linkages
Turkmenistan reveals schedule of intercity buses
Azerbaijan's State Tax Service registers Fuzuli Airport LLC
Azerbaijan felt Turkey's support not only during Karabakh war but throughout history - Minister
Int’l Model Non-Aligned Movement Simulation Exercise underway - Azerbaijan Foreign Ministry
Azerbaijan, Germany interested in increasing mutual trade turnover - Deputy minister
Iran's Energy Exchange announces products to be on sale on March 3
Azerbaijani State Agency of Automobile Roads talks about repair and construction on roads
Azerbaijani Finance Ministry places medium-term bonds at auction
Azerbaijan shows footage from Ucbulag village of Fuzuli district (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Georgia to receive first doses of COVID-19 vaccine via Covax platform in February
Irrigation systems to be put into operation in Iran’s agricultural sector
Azerbaijani Defense Ministry shares updated list of martyred servicemen in Second Karabakh War
Larization of loans increase in Georgia
Georgian AgroZone products to be exported abroad from Kutaisi Airport
Turkish specialists together with Azerbaijan’s AzTV to shoot film in Nagorno-Karabakh region
Ro-Pax ferry vessel commissioned by Azerbaijan's president - video report
Azerbaijani winemakers’ production down in 2020
Azerbaijan, Tajikistan discuss development of tourism co-op
Georgia’s banking sector begins year with profit
France uses only quarter of Astrazeneca vaccine doses
Uzbek-Korean JV to buy spare parts for electric actuator via tender
Kazakhstan identifies priority tasks to develop agriculture by 2025
Georgian Ministry of Finance sees decrease in mobilized income tax
Likelihood of interest rate decrease in Azerbaijan for 2021 seems minimal - Unicapital
Azerbaijan's AzNET segment neutralizes more phishing attacks in Jan.2021
Azerbaijan's new borrowings not to raise debt burden - Gazprombank
Azerbaijan studying Turkey's experience to strengthen institution of primary health care (PHOTO)
Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan talk big potential for co-op in agriculture
Hertz set to ride out of bankruptcy with $4.2 billion from investment firms
Money transfers via int'l payment systems down in Kazakhstan
Azercell obtains yet another award on customer experience management
German companies may take part in restoring Azerbaijan's liberated lands - ambassador
Excavation of well in Iran's Ahvaz oil field launched
Uzbekistan considers resuming air communication with Russia
Bahar Azadi gold coin price again falling in Iran
Kazakhstan, Georgia resume mutual flights as COVID-19 restrictions lifted
Uzbekistan eyes expanding mutually beneficial relations with foreign partners
Azerbaijan and Germany to continue co-op on improving qualifications of managers
Generation data of Iran's Shahid Rajaee TPP announced
Lithuania supports subsidizing renewable energy projects in Georgia
Demand for pick-up trucks in Azerbaijan may increase - expert
Kazakhstan boosts agriculture output, sets up tasks for sector's dev't
Turkey issues Jan. 2021 data on passenger traffic at Istanbul Airport
Azerbaijani company discloses output of primary aluminum
Spain's jobless hit four million for first time in five years as pandemic curbs bite
Volume of exports from Iran's Qom Province increases
S.Korean oil company holding exploration on land plots in Uzbekistan
EU executive says joint vaccine strategy not unravelling
Azerbaijan, Germany discuss expanding cooperation in oil & gas sector
Azerbaijani business environment entering recovery period - Minister of Economy
Iran's awaits action from US over JCPOA
Indonesia says identifies two cases of British COVID-19 variant
Europe – Iran held business forum to expand trade
Uzbek-Russian JV completes geological exploration at Akchalak investment block
Azerbaijani electricity supplier first to use special-purpose UAVs
Iran reaches gas export growth
Turkish president instructs to shoot TV series about Karabakh war victory
Cargo, passenger traffic via Turkish Sabiha Gokcen Airport down from early 2021
Germany to extend coronavirus lockdown until March 28
Iran unveils data of imports, exports through Anzali port
Azerbaijan records notable growth in population's US dollar demand
Iran reveals COVID-19 data for March 2
Azerbaijani Association of Travel Agencies and Association of Travel Bloggers sign agreement of understanding (PHOTO)
Union ministers Amit Shah, S Jaishankar get Covid-19 vaccine after PM Modi
Azerbaijan to hold new auction for public property facilities
Azerbaijan in cooperation with Turkey to make movie about Karabakh War
TV, radio channels to be non-accredited for 2021 Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix
Iran's Changuleh - 'a very complex oil field', says official
Proven gas reserves not adequate to furnish rising demand
BHOS launches next ‘Business Education for Engineers’ course
Iran to build combined cycle power plan in Mazandaran Province
Azerbaijan confirms 143 more COVID-19 recoveries
Gold, silver prices down in Azerbaijan
Nitin Gadkari: Despite Covid, highway construction at a record of over 32 km a day
IAF To Take Part In Multinational Exercise "Desert Flag" With France, US In UAE
Uzbekistan reports increases in gasoline price
Uzbek ministry to purchase computer equipment via tender
Uzbek commodity exchange reports volume of RON-80 gasoline sold
Russia's Novak preparing for OPEC+ meeting on March 4
UK's European Technology Development Ltd interested in doing business in Turkmenistan
Iran discusses potential of power transmission lines to neighboring countries
Uzbek commodity exchange reports volume of goods sold for Feb. 22-28
Azerbaijan's Tax Service registers local affiliate of UAE's Masdar company
All news