Haitian gang announces truce to ease fuel shortage

·2-min read
People push a public transport van that ran out of fuel in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on October 29, 2021 (AFP/Ricardo ARDUENGO)

The leader of one of the gangs that control Haiti's main oil supply depot announced Friday a truce of several days to let hospitals, schools and businesses stock up on fuel after enduring weeks of shortages.

"Starting today, tanker trucks can fill up without fear," gang leader Jimmy Cherizier said in a video posted on social media.

In return for this truce lasting until November 18, he called for the removal of armored cars that the police have stationed in gang-controlled areas and the resignation of Prime Minister Ariel Henry.

"If Ariel Henry does not resign and the problems continue, we will lift the truce and it will be the last leg of the battle against him," said Cherizier, whose nickname is "Barbecue".

In recent months Haiti's powerful and heavily armed crime gangs have tightened their grip on the capital Port-au-Prince, taking control of roads that lead to the country's three oil supply facilities.

Gangs have hijacked around a dozen fuel tanker trucks and are demanding hefty ransoms to release the drivers.

Since last month Haiti's telecoms networks and media outlets have drastically reduced their operations for lack of fuel for the generators that provide them with electricity.

The energy crisis is also hitting the few hospitals that Haiti has.

With the country in chaos, the United States and Canada have recommended that their citizens start planning their departure from Haiti.

Canada on Friday also said it was withdrawing non-essential staff from its embassy.

Cherizier is an ex-cop blamed for several killings and arson cases in poor areas of the capital since 2017.

He has been a wanted man since February 2019 but a gun-toting Cherizier nonetheless posts photos and videos of himself regularly on social media and speaks to journalists at the gang hideout he controls.

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