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Haiti reels from food protests
Fatality reported as impoverished nation's citizens vent fury over doubling of prices.
Last Modified: 08 Apr 2008 16:54 GMT
UN peacekeepers have called for calm as protesters  burn tyres and vehicles across Haiti [AFP]

One person has been shot dead in the southern Haitian city of Les Cayes during continuing protests across the country against food prices, officials and media reports say.
 
Thousands of people also gathered on Monday outside the parliament and palace in the capital, Port-au-Prince, some blaming UN peacekeepers for the crisis.
Businesses and schools closed in the capital while barricades of burning tyres were laid down the city, witnesses said.
 
"We are hungry,'' some protesters shouted, while others carried posters saying: "Down with the expensive life."
Four people died and about 15 people were injured in similar protests last Thursday in Les Cayes.
 
The protests began last Wednesday.
 
Rising food prices
 
Prices of staples foods such as rice, beans, fruit and condensed milk have gone up 50 per cent in the past year in Haiti.
 
A UN spokeswoman appealed for calm as peacekeepers defended government buildings, calling on protesters to "reject violence".
 

"Why don't they eliminate taxes on food products and give the population a break?"

Resident of Les Cayes

Witnesses told the Reuters news agency that Monday's death occurred in Les Cayes after protesters attempted to storm a senator's home.
 
Gunfire erupted and two men were wounded with one dying later in hospital, city officials said.
 
However, other reports said the man was killed during an incident with hotel security guards in the city.
 
"The government is solely responsible for what is happening today because it has failed to properly address the problems," one resident told Reuters.
 
"Why don't they eliminate taxes on food products and give the population a break?"
 
'Under control'
 
Haitian security forces said they had reinforced their numbers and brought in a new battalion of Brazilian UN peacekeepers.
 
"We have the situation under control," Henriot Toussaint, police chief for the southern region, said. 
 
In response to the unrest, Jacques Edouard Alexis, Haiti's prime minister, announced a multimillion-dollar investment programme aimed at lowering the cost of living.
 
Haiti, with a population of around 8.5 million, is the poorest country in the Americas, with 80 per cent of its population earning less than two
dollars a day, below the UN-established poverty rate.
Source:
Agencies
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