July 7 (Reuters) - Haitian leaders pleaded for calm on Saturday as violent protests over fuel price hikes entered a second day and airlines canceled flights to the impoverished Caribbean nation.
Prime Minister Jack Guy Lafontant announced the temporary suspension of double-digit increases to gasoline, diesel and kerosene prices on Saturday afternoon, a day after the fuel price hike was announced.
But local television footage showed the government’s decision to back down did not keep angry residents from taking to the streets, erecting flaming road blocks and attacking hotels and some businesses.
“The Government strongly condemns the acts of violence and vandalism perpetrated following the announcement of the adjustment of the prices of petroleum products,” Lafontant said in a statement.
U.S. carriers American Airlines and JetBlue announced flight cancellations Saturday to the capital Port-au-Prince citing civil unrest.
The U.S. embassy in Haiti advised Americans and embassy personnel to shelter in place.
On Friday, Haiti’s Commerce and Economic ministries announced that fuel price increases, including a 38 percent jump for gasoline and 47 percent for diesel, would take effect at midnight. The now-suspended decision by the government of President Jovenel Moïse to raise prices was part of an agreement with the International Monetary Fund, which requires the country to enact a range of economic measures in exchange for funding. (Reporting by David Alire Garcia and Dan Whitcomb; Editing by David Gregorio)