Page last updated at 15:20 GMT, Wednesday, 9 April 2008 16:20 UK

Eyewitness: Haiti food protests

Portuguese telecoms engineer Tarun Pinto was in Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince, when protests by hungry crowds about rising food prices turned violent.

Tarun Pinto took this photograph of protesters in Haiti
Tarun Pinto took this photograph of protesters in Haiti
The protests actually started on Monday.

But Tuesday was when the protests really escalated. I noticed no activity on the streets. There is normally a little market, cars - there was nothing, just the occasional motorcycle. People were protesting about massive hikes in the price of food.

There was a general atmosphere of disorganisation, I saw people running in panic all over the place. They seemed to be running away from the main crowd. We didn't really know what was going on.

It was only later in the day that we were told by our security people that we had to leave everything because the main protest was going to pass us. They were coming up our street of our office building and might have guns.

'Set ablaze'

We went to the bottom floor to a windowless room and I realised that the crowd was throwing stones and bottles at our building. They were banging on the gates and I could see that our security guards were running about everywhere.

I managed to sneak out and I saw the protesters straggling at the end of the crowds. They started throwing projectiles at us. I had the feeling they were throwing things at any building that represented commercialisation as opposed to just targeting foreigners.

Our security guys told us that all the cars that were parked on the streets surrounding the building were totally destroyed or set ablaze or both.

They also told us that a couple of guys had been bashed in by rocks. I was not able to verify any of this, except for a couple of wrecked cars that we saw on the way back to the apartment. One does see wrecked cars in Haiti so I couldn't be sure.

You can see the poverty in Haiti. It's really obvious. When I first arrived in Haiti during the elections of 2007, I noticed the lack of trees here. Every hill seems to have been stripped bare down to its surface and trees seem to have been replaced by shanty towns.

Food riots turn deadly in Haiti
05 Apr 08 |  Americas

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