Conflicts & War

Haitian gang boss: PM must step down for fuel deliveries to resume

Port-au-Prince, Oct 26 (EFE).- The former police officer who has emerged as Haiti’s most gangster said Tuesday that the armed gangs under his command will allow the resumption of fuel deliveries only if Ariel Henry steps down as prime minister.

“Our demand is clear, pure and simple. Our demand is the resignation of the prime minister, Ariel Henry,” Jimmy Cherizier, known as “Barbecue,” told a press conference in a capital that is rapidly grinding to a halt.

After weeks of proliferating gang attacks on tanker trucks carrying fuel, gunmen affiliated with Cherizier’s G9 Fanmi e Alye (G9 Family and Allies) have blocked access to Haiti’s main fuel depots in Port-au-Prince harbor.

Cherizier, a long-time collaborator with the ruling PHTK party and slain President Jovenel Moise, said that Henry must step down because he has been subpoenaed by prosecutors to explain telephone records showing that he had contact with the alleged mastermind of the July 7 assassination in the hours after the killing.

Henry has ignored the subpoena and rebuffed questions from the media about the suspicious calls.

Haiti can no longer tolerate a situation in which “5 percent of the people control 85 percent of the country’s wealth,” Cherizier said.

“I believe the moment has come for us, the young people, to take the country’s destiny in our hands,” the 44-year-old said.

Cherizier has sought to assert himself in the political arena in the months following Moise’s death, building on the power G9 has amassed in the absence of effective public institutions.

To protest both the fuel shortage and the violence of the gangs, opposition activists called for a three-day general strike, which began Monday.

In the heart of Port-au-Prince, there was little vehicle or pedestrian traffic Tuesday in the normally bustling area around the main market, which is located near one of the neighborhoods dominated by the G9.

The lack of fuel affects not only motorists and public transportation.

Because the power grid is so unreliable, most Haitian businesses rely for electricity on generators powered by gasoline and cannot operate without fuel.

The most acute problem is in the health sector.

The lack of fuel for generators has forced 50 hospitals across Haiti – including 15 in the capital – to shut down, according to information provided to Efe by officials with Unicef.

Port-au-Prince’s La Paix University Hospital should have received 5,000 gallons (18,926 liters) of fuel this week, but the distributor has yet to figure out a way to deliver it safely.

La Paix was virtually deserted when Efe visited the hospital on Tuesday.

The strike and the fuel shortage “have paralyzed all services” and the hospital is not admitting new patients, a pediatrician identifying himself only as Jean said.

In the pediatrics department, the focus is on treating the eight patients admitted before the shutdown and providing basic care to children who come in with relatively minor problems, he told Efe.

Jean’s colleague Darlin Dorvil said that the absence of stable electricity presents a serious challenge for the hospital’s neo-natal ward, which needs power to operate incubators for premature babies. EFE


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