Written by Tragic Rabbit
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Topics: Poverty, poor, cake, bread, Haitian

Thursday, 10 April 2008

image for Haiti leader demands end to bread riots: "Let them eat cake"
Five people have died in a week of rioting in Haiti, one of the world's poorest and worst dressed countries.

Haiti's President Déficit has ordered people to stop rioting over soaring bread prices.

"To those who are rioting for want of bread, I order them to stop because it is so ill-mannered," Mr. Déficit said on national TV and radio.

"No bread indeed!" he sniffed, "Qu'ils mangent de la brioche."

For want of a farthing

Five people have died in a week of rioting in Haiti, one of the world's poorest and worst dressed countries.

On Wednesday, barricades of burning tyres spewed out black smoke above the capital and gunshots rang out. Bands of young men carrying sticks, rocks, and guns looted food stores, before breaking into the Tuileries to demand that the president change his hat.

Local media also reported starving rioters elsewhere, including Grand-Goave to the south of the capital, and Gonaives, Ouanaminthe, Cap-Haitien and St Marc to the north.

Meanwhile, the US said it was suspending operations at its embassy, and advised American citizens to eat indoors.

President breaks silence

In his first address since the rioting began last Wednesday, Mr. Déficit said he had ordered Haitian police and 9,000,000 or so UN peacekeepers into the country to put a stop to the rioting.

He suggested the possibility of increased government subsidies on production of bread, silks, and fine cheeses.

But it is unclear whether this will placate rioters who have demanded an end to bread taxes - and the president's head on a stick.

"You haven't seen nothing yet," François Mignet, 22, told Reuters news agency shortly before the president's address.

"We are waiting for the monarchy to tell us what it is going to do. Et puis mon ami, you can expect the worst," he said, as he helped erect a street barricade made of wrecked cars and debris, alongside a makeshift guillotine.

'Eating bleach'

UN peacekeepers in the capital for a second day reportedly fired in the air and used tear gas to prevent furious demonstrators getting into the palace where Mr Déficit is believed to be staying.

In recent months, it has become common among Haiti's Third Estate to use the expression "eating bleach", to describe the daily hunger pains people face, because of the burning feeling in their stomachs.

Most Haitians have no more than $2 (£1) a day with which to live and feed themselves.

Rioters are said to be making preparations to storm the Bastille on the 14th.


Tragic Rabbit, Port-au-Prince, Tuileries

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