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04-12-08, 08:29 PM #1
Deadly food riots cause Haitian lawmakers to dismiss Prime Minister
Haitian lawmakers voted Saturday to dismiss Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis, hoping to defuse widespread anger of rising food prices that had led to days of deadly protests and looting.
"I think that will satisfy the people," said Sen. Youri Latortue. He said Parliament ousted Alexis because he did not boost national food production and refused to set a date for the departure of U.N. peacekeepers.
President Rene Preval, who earlier in the day announced a more than 15% cut in the price of rice, immediately said he would a name a new prime minister.
The 16-11 vote in Parliament to oust Alexis reflected frustration over soaring food prices in a nation where most people live on less than $2 a day and chronic hunger had become unbearable in recent months.
The rage erupted in days violent clashes with U.N. peacekeepers and looting across Haiti this week that had abated by late Thursday, but not before leaving five people dead. Protesters even stormed the presidential palace on Tuesday, charging its main gate with a rolling dumpster and yelling for Preval to step down.
RIOTS: Food prices causes uproar
On Saturday, U.N. military commander Maj. Gen. Carlos Alberto Dos Santos Cruz told the Associated Press that calm was returning across the country, with some transportation resuming and people going back to work.
But Haiti could encounter more chaos with Alexis' ousting, according to Eduardo Gamarra, director of the Latin America and Caribbean Center at Florida International University. He said the dismissal creates a tremendous political vacuum and that senators might now go after Preval because he has not implemented many changes.
After Alexis' dismissal was announced, about 25 people gathered outside the national palace Saturday and chanted "Aristide or death!"
Emmanuel Joseph, a 26-year-old from the seaside slum of Cite Soleil, said residents there are still planning to protest on Monday because they are hungry.
Alexis survived a no-confidence vote over the government's handling of the economy in February. He was nominated prime minister in May 2006, succeeding interim Prime Minister Gerard Latortue, who was appointed after former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide was ousted in 2004.
In another bid to deal with anger of food prices, Preval said Saturday that the price of a 50-pound bag of rice will drop from $51 to $43. He did not say when the price reduction would go into effect.
The Haitian president said the government will use international aid money to subsidize the price of rice and that the private sector has agreed to knock $3 off the price of each bag.
Preval also said he would ask Venezuela for help, especially about providing fertilizer for struggling farmers.
Globally, food prices have risen 40% since mid-2007. Haiti is particularly affected because it imports nearly all of its food, including more than 80% of its rice. Much of its once-productive farmland has been abandoned as farmers struggle to grow crops in soil decimated by erosion, deforestation, flooding and tropical storms.
On Friday, the U.S. State Department issued a statement banning government officials from traveling to Haiti following the violent demonstrations.
It also advised American citizens to consider leaving the impoverished Caribbean country where protests over high costs of living left five dead in the countryside. The warning comes despite a general sense of calm settling over Port-au-Prince.
"If you don't need to stay, you might consider departing," said James Ellickson-Brown, spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince.
An estimated 19,000 U.S. citizens live in Haiti, most dual-nationals who live in the capital. More than 140 American citizens have been kidnapped since 2005, but few were short-term visitors, the U.S. Embassy said.
Updated 2h 1m ago
04-13-08, 12:09 AM #2
Due the corruption of officials, tons of food are spoiling on the docks in Haiti. I went to on a cruise in January, and one of the stops was Labadee Beach in Haiti. The place is surrounded by a security fence and has armed guards to keep the locals out. Food was brought to the beach from the cruise ship, and for me, it was hard to enjoy it, knowing that the food we were wasting was probably more than the average Haitian gets in a month. Man, if I was a Liberal, I'd have felt guilty! The only way they'll ever change is to get rid of the corruption. Good luck with that.For the morning will come. Brightly will it shine on the brave and true, kindly upon all who suffer for the cause, glorious upon the tombs of heroes. Thus will shine the dawn.
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