Haiti crippled by fuel shortages as gang leader demands prime minister resign
28 October, 2021, 9:10 am
Haiti’s streets were unusually quiet on Tuesday and gasoline stations remained dry as gangs blocked the entrance to ports that hold fuel stores and the country’s main gang boss demanded that Prime Minister Ariel Henry resign.
Days-long fuel shortages have left Haitians with few transportation options and forced the closure of some businesses. Hospitals, which rely on diesel generators to ensure electricity due to constant blackouts, may shut down as well.
Jimmy “Barbecue” Cherizier, leader of the “G9” coalition of gangs in the metropolitan area of the capital, Port-au-Prince, said in a radio interview on Monday night that he would ensure safe passage of fuel trucks if Henry leaves office.
“If Ariel Henry resigns at 8 a.m., at 8:05 a.m. we will unblock the road and all the trucks will be able to go through to get fuel.”
His statements show how gangs have taken on an increasingly political role following the July assassination of President Jovenel Moise. Cherizier has said Henry should “answer questions” linking him to Moise’s murder. Henry has denied any involvement.
Kidnappings have been in the headlines for months as Haitians from all walks of life face abduction by the increasingly powerful gangs.
Christian Aid Ministries asked people in a statement on Tuesday to remember both those “being held hostage as well as those recovering from the experience of being kidnapped.”
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Tuesday the United States had deployed “a significant number of law enforcement specialists and hostage recovery specialists” to Haiti.
‘THE WORST I’VE SEEN’
Haiti’s foreign aid bureau, BMPAD, which oversees fuel procurement, tweeted a video saying the country had 150,000 barrels of diesel and 50,000 barrels of gasoline, with another 50,000 barrels of gasoline set to arrive on Wednesday.
Businesses have been warning that they may have to halt operations for lack of fuel. Telecoms firms said some cell towers are no longer in operation.
Motorcycle drivers strap one-gallon containers to their bikes in the hopes of filling them with fuel sold on the black market. A gallon of gasoline on the street can now fetch $20, compared with typical filling-station prices of around $2.
United Nations children’s agency UNICEF saidon Sunday it had negotiated fuel deliveries to Haitian hospitals but that the provider later refused to make the deliveries, citing security conditions.
At one police station near Port-au-Prince, two officers had been unable to get to work due to fuel shortages, according to a police official, who asked not to be named because he is not authorized to speak with reporters.
“Most of our vehicles have about a quarter of a tank,” he said.