Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

6 Jamaicans Killed in Tax-Hike Protests Tourist Businesses Avoiding Island

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

6 Jamaicans Killed in Tax-Hike Protests Tourist Businesses Avoiding Island

Article excerpt

KINGSTON, Jamaica -- Jamaicans blocked major roads with burning barricades of tires and furniture yesterday, defying police who fired warning shots and tear gas. At least six people have been reported killed.

Violent protests have swept the Caribbean island since the government announced $100 million in new taxes on Friday. The unrest prompted several airlines and cruise ships to cancel trips to Jamaica yesterday.

The taxes include a 30 percent increase in gasoline prices. The last two governments to significantly raise gas prices fell, and there were deadly gas price riots in 1979 and 1985.

In Kingston overnight, demonstrators set four shops ablaze and looters smashed other businesses, defying a new curfew.

"The gas tax will be a joke compared to the money we are going to lose in tourism," resort owner Gordon Stewart said.

Protesters and opposition parties were unmoved by Prime Minister P.J. Patterson's appeals for calm and promises to appoint a team to help soften the blow. …

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