PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — A powerful Haitian gang leader said Friday he is easing a chokehold on fuel deliveries that has caused a growing crisis for hospitals, gas stations and even water supplies across the nation’s capital.
G9 gang leader Jimmy “Barbecue” Chérizier held a news conference to announce a seven-day reprieve for hospitals, schools and gas stations to send trucks to the refueling station at the port.
But he said the relaxation is only temporary, and he repeated calls for the resignation of Prime Minister Ariel Henry, whom he accuses of involvement in the July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moise. Chérizier said he will shut the port down again in a week and will keep it that way until Henry steps down.
Shortly after Chérizier’s announcement, The Associated Press saw two tanker trucks arrive at the port, take on fuel and leave without incident.
The capital and much of the country has been at a standstill since last month, when the G9 sealed entry into the port where fuel is stored and distributed.
Government police and troops have seemed helpless to confront G9 and other gangs even as the closing of gas stations stifled much of the already precarious economy.
Hospitals reported turning away patients due to a lack of generators, many buses stopped running and banks, government offices and schools were closed for lack of transportation. Lack of fuel threatened water pumping stations.
Anger over lack of fuel caused protests and rioting by frustrated truck, bus and taxi drivers.
The G9 group is among many gangs that have terrorized the country’s capital, prompting thousands to flee from criminal-controlled neighborhoods.
One of those groups has been holding 17 members of a missionary group from Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries since Oct. 16, demanding millions of dollars in ransom.
The U.S. government this week urged U.S. citizens to leave Haiti because of the country’s deepening insecurity and the severe lack of fuel. Canada announced Friday it was pulling all but essential personnel from its embassy.