Missionary Groups Stranded in Haiti Amid Violent Gas Tax Protests
Update at the bottom.
As of Monday morning, the U.S. Embassy in Haiti was still urging Americans to "shelter in place" after a weekend of violent protests directly responsible for the deaths of at least three people. Airplanes were delayed, Internet and phone lines were cut, cities descended into chaos, and church missionary groups turned back from threatening roadblocks.
This situation strikes me personally because my church's youth ministry just had a mission trip to Haiti, and by God's grace they returned in time to escape this horrible situation. Many other groups did not, however.
The rioting began Friday, as Haitians took to the streets to protest an increase in fuel prices from 38 percent to 51 percent. The government quickly abandoned this plan as chaos erupted over the weekend. At least three people were killed in protests on Friday, and police said the bodies of four people were found Sunday in the streets of the Delmas district, TIME magazine reported. It is unknown whether these last four died in protests.
PJ Media listened to an updated announcement from the U.S. Embassy in Haiti on Monday morning. The embassy reported that "there are continuing demonstrations, roadblocks, and violence." It urged U.S. citizens "do not travel to the airport unless your confirmed flight is departing."
The message warned that "Internet and phone lines have been affected throughout Haiti," advised U.S. citizens to "shelter in place," and noted that "U.S. Embassy personnel are under a shelter in place order."
"If you encounter roadblocks, turn around and go to a safe area," the embassy urged.
Unlike my church's youth group, a youth group from Bradenton, Fla., was stranded at least until Monday thanks to such roadblocks.
The Woodland Community Church youth mission group left Neply, Haiti, early on Saturday for a 3 p.m. flight from Port-au-Prince International Airport, Executive Pastor Dewayne McFarlin told CNN. Only a few miles into the journey, the group encountered individuals demanding payment for access to the roadway.