Amid protests over surging fuel prices, Americans in Haiti urged to stay inside
According to a report from CNN, the American Embassy in Haiti is urging citizens to stay inside and away from the demonstrations taking place in Port-Au-Prince and another city on the northern coast of Haiti. Jack Guy Lafontant, Haiti’s Prime Minister, called for a stop to both the price increases and the unrest on Saturday. According to Stacy Librandi Bourne, an emergency medical professional employed by HERO Client Rescue who is staying at the Oasis Hotel in Haiti, after the Prime Minister’s appeals the situation began to return to normal.
American officials instructed tourists and missionaries to shelter, and the Haitian State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs released a statement through a spokesman: “Do not attempt to travel at this time. Avoid protests and any large gathering of people. Do not attempt to drive through roadblocks.” But the US Embassy also reported that there were no incidents of American citizens who had been harmed in Haiti.
Protests kicked off after the Haitian government called for a sharp increase in fuel prices which saw gas prices rise 38%, diesel 47% and kerosene 51%, according to the Haitian newspaper Le Nouvelliste. Demonstrators tried to set fire to the Oasis Hotel in Port-Au-Prince where there were an estimated 100 Haitian guests and 120 American guests staying.
As a result of these uprisings, American Airlines, JetBlue, and Spirit Airlines announced they have cancelled all flights to Haiti. American Airlines spokesman Curtis Blessing told CNN that the airline cancelled several flights to the island and would re-evaluate the situation later. On Sunday, Blessing issued an update, telling the Sun-Sentinel, “We’re continuing to monitor the situation, but we expect normal operation.” By early Sunday afternoon, four of American Airlines’ flights were back in the air, but none of the planes were headed for Haiti.
As for citizens still in Haiti, the U.S. Department of State issued a statement urging people to stay in their rooms until they had confirmation from their airlines that a flight was departing: “Due to continuing demonstrations, roadblocks, and violence across Port-Au-Prince and throughout Haiti, U.S. citizens should shelter in place. Do not travel to the airport unless you are sure your flight is departing.”