Port-au-Prince, Nov 4 (EFE).- Violence broke out between police and people queuing up to buy fuel in Haiti’s capital on Thursday.
A week ago, the fuel supply was restarted after weeks of shortages caused by blockades of armed gangs, but distribution has been uneven and only a few gas stations in Port-au-Prince are open, where crowds grow larger every day.
At a gas station in the Kafou Tifou area, nervousness and discomfort were evident Thursday after an incident in which people who had been waiting in line since the early morning were allegedly beaten by police officers.
According to witnesses, police officers went to the gas station, beat those present to skip the queue, and got themselves some fuel. After the incident, they took refuge inside the establishment, a man identified as Hubert, told Efe.
Hubert claimed that the officers hit him “three times” in the stomach with a rifle and left another man badly injured after hitting him over the head for a gallon.
“The policemen became traders of fuel. They come to buy to sell it” at a price of up to $40 per gallon and, for this, “they beat the unfortunate ones at the pumps,” he denounced.
This occurred despite the fact that, on Wednesday, the National Police prohibited its officers “from wearing their service uniforms to stand in line at the gasoline pumps” and announced “rigorous disciplinary sanctions” for those who fail to comply with the provision, according to a circular from the body to which Efe had access.
At the gas station, the tension increased and reinforcements arrived at the facilities to try to bring order, even threatening with their rifles to force people to separate from the pumps.
The policemen also used violence against the press, breaking mobile phones of some reporters filming the situation.
Finally, the security forces cleared a good part of the motorcycles that were waiting next to the pumps, and then several officers left the gas station office, where they had taken refuge, carrying full cans of gasoline.
The fuel crisis does not only affect motor vehicles, since most businesses, institutions, hospitals and schools depend on diesel for electricity or on diesel-powered generators.
The gangs had seized the fuel stored in the capital’s port and attacked the supply trucks, so a police escort was necessary to transport the fuel into the city. EFE