1676780538 Suriname Looting arrests and internet shutdown on the sidelines of

Suriname: Looting, arrests and internet shutdown on the sidelines of demonstrations against the high cost of living Marti

In Paramaribo, the capital of Suriname, the February 17, 2023 demonstrations against the high cost of living degenerated. The National Assembly was attacked and shops were looted. Local residents demonstrated against rising prices and the government’s removal of subsidies for fuel, electricity and gas.

On Friday, February 17, 2023, thousands of protesters mobilized in the streets of Paramaribo, the capital of Suriname, at the call of trade unions and opposition groups.

Two groups even withdrew from a coalition with Suriname’s President Chandrikapersad Santokhi’s party in the 2020 elections.

Since the government’s announcement on February 7, 2023 to end subsidies for essential products such as fuel, electricity and gas, the people of Surinamese have started to express their frustration, including the resignations of President Chandrikapersad Santokhi and Ronnie Brunswijk, the Vice Presidents, demanded.

Chan Santokhi, President of Suriname on the 45th anniversary of his country’s independence • ©CTG

On February 17, the situation escalated. Police used tear gas to disperse protesters attempting to enter the National Assembly building and began looting shops in downtown Paramaribo.

The police arrested 83 people.

In Suriname, the police are blocking the main axes of Paramaribo. • ©nos.nl/AFP/ANP

Suriname is on the lifeline of an IMF (International Monetary Fund) bailout package that calls for the government to cut spending.

By removing subsidies for fuel, electricity and gas, the government hopes to save 56 million euros a year.

The oil companies SOL and Rubis require payment in advance for deliveries to Suriname.

The Surinamese dollar is losing its value. The prices have exploded. With a minimum wage of 57 cents an hour, the population suffers.

In Suriname, demonstrators vented their anger against the institutions of power. • ©nos.nl/AFP/ANP

President Chandrikapersad Santokhi is currently in the Bahamas for the CARICOM Summit of Heads of State or Government.

In a press release, CARICOM condemned the violence in Suriname and attempts to destabilize the government.

The Suriname government has imposed a curfew from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. until further notice. Telesur, the main internet service provider in Suriname, has blocked all access to social networks, an unprecedented censorship in the country.

The embassies of the United States, France and Canada are asking their nationals to avoid the capital, Paramaribo.