Strike paralyzes Haiti amid fuel crisis, pervasive violence
By Maria Montecelos
Port-au-Prince, Oct 25 (EFE).- A huge number of people participated peacefully in Port-au-Prince in the first day of the nationwide strike called in Haiti to protest the lack of fuel and the violence of armed gangs.
People remained in their homes and workplaces, banks, offices and factories and kept their blinds drawn on this first day of the national strike, with only a few passersby and vendors out on the streets, which were mostly deserted of both people and vehicles.
Some roadblocks were set on fire and blocked any traffic passage at certain points around the city, and gunfire was heard at other points around the capital.
The only real “hotspot” in the city was the Delmas 2 sector, where armed confrontations occurred between the police and members of the G9 Fanmi e Alye, a powerful coalition of armed gangs, according to what EFE learned in the vicinity.
However, this type of violence is ongoing at this point in Port-au-Prince and has nothing to do with the strike.
The three-day strike was called mainly to protest the lack of fuel, a situation that has become more acute in recent weeks.
The lack of fuel not only makes it impossible to move about in motor vehicles, but also affects the operations of almost every institution and business, given that generators powered by petroleum derivatives are the main source of electricity.
The scarcity of fuel is such that capital hospitals are finding themselves forced to stop providing services to patients, United Nations agencies warned in a statement released on Sunday.
The lives of 300 children, 45 pregnant women or new mothers and 70 other adults, including Covid-19 patients, are in danger because two large capital hospitals will stop treating them on Monday.
As a temporary and emergency solution, UNICEF hired a local provider to supply 10,000 gallons of fuel to hospitals in the capital metro area because, in fact, there is fuel available at certain locations in the city.
However, due to the lack of security and fearing for his physical safety, the provider refused to make the delivery, a situation that highlights the close linkage between fuel scarcity and the gang violence.
The strike is scheduled to run until Wednesday around the country, the aim being to completely shut down all activities.
The protests have resurged at a point when the activities of armed gangs are on the rise, with violent clashes causing thousands of people to flee their neighborhoods and terrorizing virtually everyone amid the spate of robberies, rapes, murders and kidnappings.
According to Cardh, the Center for Human Rights Analysis and Research, 747 kidnappings have been registered since the start of this year, with an exponential increase over the past few months: 117 reported just in September and another 119 during the first two weeks of October.
The main victims of the kidnappings are Haitian citizens, but kidnappings of foreigners have also been reported, including 16 US citizens and one Canadian, including five children, all of them members of a religious group who were taken hostage on Oct.16.