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Several countries shut embassies in Haiti amid violent anti-gov't protests

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Protesters demanding the resignation of Haiti President Jovenel Moise face the police in Port-au-Prince. (Photo by Reuters)

Several countries have announced the temporary closure of their embassies in Haiti for security reasons amid violent demonstrations in different parts of the Caribbean country over fuel price hike.

The measure has been taken by the representatives of the neighboring Dominican Republic as well as France, Canada, and Taiwan.

In a statement, the embassy of the Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, said it was closing its "doors to the public until further notice" due to the "deterioration of public safety" in the neighboring country.

Dominican Republic President Luis Abinader reacted to the crisis, saying he feels the Haitian crisis directly affects the security of the Dominican Republic.

“For the Dominican Republic, it is a matter of national security," Abinader was quoted as saying.

Taiwan's embassy in Haiti has also been temporarily closed from Wednesday to Thursday due to the latest round of violent protests.

“The temporary closure of the embassy located at Pétion-Ville, a suburb area in the capital city Port-au-Prince, could be extended depending on the latest situation in Haiti,” said the foreign ministry of Taiwan, while other embassies also took similar decisions.

There have been reports of roadblocks, burning tires, and rock-throwing in multiple areas of the metropolitan Port-au-Prince area over the past few days, sparking security concerns for foreign diplomats. 

The Canadian embassy in Haiti also announced its closure on Thursday. The Mexican office indicated on Tuesday that it would remain closed “until further notice,” while the Spanish embassy took similar measures on Wednesday.

Ever since Prime Minister Ariel Henry's speech on Sunday, when he announced the fuel price hike, the country has been experiencing a deteriorated situation amid massive anti-government protests.

“The state does not have the funds to continue government fuel subsidies,” Henry said as he warned that gasoline and other fuel prices would rise sharply.

The fuel prices have doubled now, going from around 350 Gourdes (2.9 Euros) to nearly 670 Gourdes (5.5 Euros).

It has angered residents who have already experienced insecurity and poverty, who depend on fuel for transportation, but also for electricity or cooking.

On social media, a viral video showed a man attempting to ride a motorbike down a blockaded street as another man pelts him with rocks until he topples over.

Being one of the poorest countries in the American continent, the Haiti government is struggling to take on powerful gangs and provide basic services accessible to the people.

A United Nations report records that gangs have kidnapped and killed hundreds of people in the capital, Port-au-Prince, since early July.

According to the UN, in Haiti, 540 people were kidnapped and more than 780 killed between January and May of this year.

Adding to it, the fuel crisis is creating even more problems for the already unstable Caribbean nation, which comes in the wake of the raging Ukraine war.

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