Haiti is running into the same problems that many other struggling, overly indebted countries in the Western Hemisphere have run into recently – they are finding it impossible to cut spending because the local population keeps rising up in revolt against the government when they try. This has been the case recently in both Brazil and Nicaragua.
These countries have many other problems besides just spending, and the cuts to various government handouts were just the spark that lit the bonfire. But it should be noted in all cases that the proximate cause of these rebellions are the cuts to benefits.
The latest wave of violence convulsing Haiti seems particularly bad, and has put American tourists and volunteer groups at risk:
At least three people have been killed, including two protesters who were fatally shot by authorities and a security guard who was beaten to death by demonstrators after attempting to disperse a crowd by firing his gun into the air.
An estimated 120 Americans are believed to be staying at a Port-au-Prince hotel targeted by protesters, who attempted to bypass security and set the building ablaze. Youth groups and missionaries from an array of U.S churches are also stranded in the Caribbean nation, unable to make it safely to the airport for departure.
The Haitian government on Saturday halted a planned fuel price hike after tension and fighting escalated late last week. Haiti Prime Minister Jack Guy Lafontant had previously declared that fuel prices needed to be raised to balance the budget and announced a 38 percent increase for gasoline, diesel and kerosene. Despite the Lafontant government’s concession to public pressure, the anger and remains.
A source on the ground in Haiti described the situation as “on fire” and only getting worse, with more major demonstrations expected Sunday in the wealthy enclave of Pétion-Ville, south-east of the capital city.
“Government vehicles are moving to high ground, we have been told to initiate total lockdown measures immediately,” the source added. “We have to see what develops.”