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The State Department reacted to reported arrests of Americans in Haiti



The State Department responded to reports that five Americans in Haiti were arrested and held on conspiracy charges after more than a week of anti-government protests.

"We understand that the Haitian National Police arrested a group of individuals, including some US citizens. When U.S. Citizens are arrested abroad and we seek Consular Access as soon as possible and provide appropriate Consular assistance as provided by the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, "a State Department spokesperson told Fox News. It did not comment further.

Reuters reported that a group of foreign nationals, including armed Americans, was arrested. The Haitian newspaper Le Nouvelliste reported that police found rifles, pistols, drones and satellite phones in the group's vehicle, according to Reuters.

The arrests came after more than a week of violent demonstrations by tens of thousands of protesters demanding the resignation of the president. Jovenel Moise over skyrocketing prices that have more than doubled for basic goods amid accusations of government corruption.

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Last week, the State Department issued its highest-possible travel advisory for Haiti, the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere.

"Do not travel to Haiti due to crime and civil unrest," the department advised Americans in its Level 4 warning "There are currently widespread, violent, and unpredictable demonstrations in Port-au-Prince and elsewhere in Haiti. … Protest, tire burning, and road blockages are frequent and unpredictable. Violent crime, such as armed robbery, is common. Local police may have a shortage of resources to effectively respond to serious criminal incidents, and emergency response, including emergency services, is limited or non-existent. "

Goods in Haiti have doubled in price over the last weeks: a bundle of rice now costs $ 1

8 in US dollars and a can of dry beans around $ 7. In addition, a gallon of cooking oil has risen to almost $ 11 from $ 7. Inflation has been in the double digits since 2014, and the price hikes are angering many people in Haiti, where about 60 percent of its nearly 10.5 million people struggle to get by about $ 2 a day. A recent report by the U.S. The Agency for International Development said about half of the country is undernourished.

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The U.S. Government urged Moise's administration to implement economic reforms and redouble efforts to combat corruption and hold accountable those implicated in the scandal over Venezuelan subsidized oil program known as Petrocaribe.

Moise has refused to step down, although his prime minister, Jean- Henry Ceant said over the weekend that he had agreed to reduce certain government budgets by 30 percent, limit travel of government officials and remove all non-essential privileges they enjoy, including phone cards. Ceant also vowed to investigate allegedly misspending tied to Petrocaribe, and said he had requested that a court audit all state-owned enterprises. He also said he would increase the minimum wage and lower the prices of basic goods, although he did not provide specifics.

Fox News' Nicholas Kalman and The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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