Haiti has unveiled a set of economic measures designed to end more than a week of violent anti-government demonstrations in the Caribbean country, asking the citizens to return to normal life from Monday on.
Prime Minister Jean-Henry Ceant, during a televised address on Saturday night, announced nine measures meant to appease the angry demonstrators and re-energize the economy.
Thousands of protesters have been demonstrating across Haiti since February 7, demanding the resignation of President Jovenel Moise and the prime minister over the disappearance of billions of dollars linked to the regional PetroCaribe energy agreement between Venezuela and a number of Caribbean states.
The preferential terms of the Venezuela-initiated deal were meant to free up about $4 billion to aid development in Haiti, which has been battered by several natural disasters and years of corruption, political instability and violence.
Fire on the streets of Port-au-Prince as thousands of Haitians take to the streets to protest against the economy and corruption.
Haitian protests demand the trial of officials who they claim stole the $3.8 billion Haiti received as part of the Petrocaribe program. They have also said they will remain on the streets until Ceant and Moise step down.
The protests have reportedly killed several people and wounded many others.
Ceant further pledged that the government will intensify its investigation into the corruption case, reduce its expenses by 30 percent and raise the minimum wage.
He warned of a humanitarian crisis in the country if violence fails to cease.
“The population suffers a lot, because blocked roads cannot deliver water to drink, food, gasoline. It is almost impossible to have electricity,” the prime minister said.
In a speech delivered on Thursday, Moise called for dialog between the government and the opposition.
The idea was welcomed by the Economic Forum of the Private Sector, a Haitian business group, which blamed Moise and his “lack of leadership” for the crisis.
It remains to be seen if the Haitians will heed the government’s call to go back to normal life or will resume a fresh round of protests.
Foreign states issue travel warnings to citizens
In the wake of the violent protests, several foreign governments, including Canada and the US, have warned their citizens to avoid trips to Haiti.
Canada on Friday temporarily closed its embassy in the capital, Port-au-Prince, while the mission’s staff headed home.
A group of 25 school students from Quebec, who had also been stuck in Haiti, managed to get out of the country on Sunday.
The day before, 131 Canadian tourists had also evacuated via helicopter from their beachside resort in Haiti, where they had been trapped for one week.