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Haiti not descending into instability says minister
Reuters | Wednesday, 09 April 2008
UN: Food costs threaten Haiti stability
1 Killed in Haiti Food Protests
Tuesday April 8, 7:59 am ET
By Jonathan M. Katz, Associated Press Writer
Thousands Flood Haitian Streets in Protests Over High Food Prices; 1 Killed

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) -- Protesters angered by high food prices flooded the streets of Haiti's capital Monday, forcing businesses and schools to close as unrest spread from the countryside.

Witnesses said at least one person was killed by hotel security guards during a protest in the southern city of Les Cayes, where at least four people died last week in food riots and clashes with U.N. peacekeepers.

Police said they were investigating.

Thousands of people marched past the National Palace in Port-au-Prince.

"We're hungry," some called out. Others carried posters reading "Down with the expensive life!"

Some protesters threw chairs against storefronts and shouted for the ouster of President Rene Preval and U.N. troops, blaming them for the high price of rice. Some also roughed up journalists, throwing rocks at cars and pushing photographers to the ground.

A university student was seen bleeding on the ground with a bullet wound in his stomach.

A U.N. spokeswoman appealed for calm as peacekeepers defended government buildings.

"We call on the population to reject the trap of violence.

Violence will just make the cost of living worse," Sophie Boutaud de la Combe said.

Haitians are particularly affected by food prices that are rising worldwide.

Eighty percent of the population lives on less than $2 a day. The cost of staples such as rice, beans, fruit and condensed milk has gone up 50 percent in the past year, while the cost of pasta has doubled.

Many protesters called for the return of exiled President Jean-Bertrand Aristide -- who was ousted in a 2004 rebellion -- including thousands who packed an amphitheater in the oceanside Cite Soleil slum for a rally led by the Rev. Gerard Jean-Juste.

"Some can't take the hunger anymore," the Jean-Juste told The Associated Press.

"As a priest, I encourage all government officials to do their best to find ways to solve the near-famine situation."

The U.N. World Food Program made an urgent appeal for donations Monday to support its operations in Haiti, the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned last week that the food crisis could threaten Haiti's already fragile security.

U.N. council deplores Haiti violence

La Lionne, April 8 2008, 5:50 PM

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