A demonstration against the high cost of living in Suriname degenerated into a riot on Friday, with protesters forcing through police barriers protecting parliament before looting shops in the centre of the capital, Paramaribo, French news agency AFP reported.
Between 1,000 and 2,000 people gathered in the late morning to protest against price hikes for food, petrol and electricity, accusing the government of the South American nation, and its president, Chan Santokhi, of corruption.
At around noon, more vocal protesters tried to enter parliament. They broke through the barriers protecting the building, and hurled bottles and stones at the police, who used tear gas and fired rubber bullets to repel them.
Protesters then moved to the nearby city centre and looted several shops. They set fire to a car and tried to burn several buildings. Several people were injured, AFP noted.
“I have three children to feed and I have two jobs. Every day the prices are going up,” Agnes, a protester interviewed in the morning, complained.
Another protester, Alfred, also said on condition of anonymity that President Santokhi should leave: “He keeps saying there is ‘light at the end of the tunnel’, but I only see darkness,” he said. “I can no longer pay for petrol to go to work and take my children to school.”
Suriname, a small country in northeastern South America with a population of 600,000, is in the throes of a serious economic crisis, with runaway inflation and a soaring foreign debt. The former Dutch colony is eagerly awaiting the exploitation of oil reserves, which are expected to be substantial.