Thursday, Oct 17, 2019
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‘We were never threatened’

Bahamas Ambassador to Haiti Jeffrey Williams said yesterday that embassy workers were evacuated from the country in part due to fears that protesters would take control of the airport.

Amid ongoing riots in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced the temporary closure of the embassy and the recall of all diplomatic and consular staff.

“I don’t think anybody had a fear for their lives,” Williams said.

“The thing is they were having their demonstrations but we were never threatened.

“But the point was, things looked like it was escalating. [The protestors] tried to get to the airport once or twice but the police turned them back.

“We were thinking that if they were successful in getting to the airport then that means you wouldn’t be able to get out.

“It was not an immediate threat, but like I said, the minister and government here decided to err on the side of caution.

“They were being very cautious.”

Violent protests raged in Haiti since February 7, with protesters calling for the resignation of President Jovenel Moise over corruption allegations and skyrocketing inflation.

Protesters have stoned the Haitian president’s home, clashed with police in the streets, blocked roads and set cars and tires ablaze.

Reports indicate that several people have been killed and many others injured.

Williams said he expects the situation in Haiti to return to some form of normalcy.

“I expect things to settle down shortly,” he said.

“I expect things to get back to normal. Normal is a little demonstration here, a little demonstration there…

“They are advocating for free education, free medical attention and stuff like that. So those things, it’ll take an act of Parliament and I don’t know if their Parliament is going to go along with that.

“Also, the things they want cost money and I don’t think the Haitian government has that money.”

Yesterday, the Associated Press reported that businesses and government offices in Haiti reopened across the country and public transportation resumed in the capital, where people began lining up to buy food, water and gasoline as crews cleared streets of barricades thrown up during the protests.

In a statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs advised that no consular services would be available in Haiti until the embassy reopens.

Sloan Smith

Staff Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Sloan covers national news for The Nassau Guardian. Sloan officially joined the news team in September 2016 but interned at The Nassau Guardian while studying journalism at the University of The Bahamas.
Education: Vrije Universiteit Brussel (University of Brussels), MA in Mass Communications

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