Update From This Morning:
Today Port-au Prince is protesting the high gas prices.
While the global price of crude has dropped by 30% since last June (source) and in good old Kansas gasoline can be had for as little as $1.75 per gallon, here in good old Port-au Prince the price were $4.62 up until last week.
This past Fall, President Martelly got the bright idea to increase the government fixed fuel prices. The plan was to raise gas prices from $4.38 to $5.23 per gallon by February (source). They have backed off on this plan, and last Friday in an effort to appease, lowered the price to $4.30 per gallon. However, people are still angry about it.
Particularly, the public transportation sector is upset. This is a populous city with no metro or trains. People mainly move about on privately owned tap-taps and busses. As gas prices go up, profits go down. Today, to show their displeasure, tap-taps are boycotting driving, and putting barricades up around town to stop other people from driving too. Consequently, the streets are mostly empty, except for moto-taxis, and they are price gauging for their services.
Since my employees couldn’t get to work very well today, I decided to close the bakery.
Like I said, barricades and burning tires are being setup at major intersections to enforce the boycott. In fact, there are tires in the street burning right outside our gate, though it seems peaceable enough. Additionally, there are lots of reports of rocks being thrown at cars brave enough to venture out. I stood outside our gate awhile and in that time only saw two private cars pass and no one threw rocks at them. They drove around the burning tires.
Anyways, the city has essentially shut down for the day. I walked to our corner market and it was closed, but a couple employees were standing outside. They know me and said the market was closed. I acted surprised, “What! You guys are closed?” One of them asked if the bakery was closed? I admitted we closed down as well because my workers couldn’t get here. They laughed.
The lady who cooks daily lunches for the bakery & discipleship class just walked into the office. She doesn’t live far away, and walked here. She said the Fleurio intersection was barricaded and she saw people throwing rocks, presumably at cars. I told her there wasn’t much cooking needed today, except for my lunch.
Just as I was telling her this, one of my bakery workers, Gergens, walked in. We hadn’t been able to call him because he didn’t have his phone on him for some reason. He looked sweaty.
“I’m sorry, but the bakery is closed today and I don’t have work for you.” He didn’t seem surprised. I asked what time he had left his house this morning for work. He said 5am… it was now 10am! Wow, that’s dedication to his job. He opted to go back home instead of waiting for a free lunch.
The protests tapered off in the late afternoon. I went out this evening and didn’t see anything going on. Apparently though, at the height of things this morning some people were shot, a lot of rocks were thrown, a vehicle or two overturned, some people roughed up, etc. Looks like it will be the same thing again tomorrow!
That is the excitement here for today.