Haiti protests Food shortages, 5 dead
Protesters angered by high food prices flooded the streets of Haiti’s capital Monday, forcing businesses and schools to close as unrest spread from the countryside.
Witnesses said at least one person was killed by hotel security guards during a protest in the southern city of Les Cayes, where at least four people died last week in food riots and clashes with U.N. peacekeepers. Police said they were investigating.
Thousands of people marched past the National Palace in Port-au-Prince. ”We’re hungry,” some called out. Others carried posters reading, “Down with the expensive life!”
Some protesters threw chairs against storefronts and shouted for the ouster of President René Préval and U.N. troops, blaming them for the high price of rice. Some also roughed up journalists, throwing rocks at cars and pushing photographers to the ground.
A university student was seen bleeding on the ground with a bullet wound in his stomach.
A U.N. spokeswoman appealed for calm as peacekeepers defended government buildings.
”We call on the population to reject the trap of violence. Violence will just make the cost of living worse,” Sophie Boutaud de la Combe said.
Haitians are particularly affected by food prices that are rising worldwide. Eighty percent of the population lives on less than $2 a day. The cost of staples such as rice, beans, fruit and condensed milk has gone up 50 percent in the past year, while the cost of pasta has doubled.
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