Last week, Haitians took to the streets once again to reject the fuel shortages and insecurity impeding normal functioning in the country. Workers from different sectors carried out a three-day-long national strike, from October 25 to 27, demanding that acting Prime Minister and President Ariel Henry take measures to urgently solve these issues. The call for the strike was given by the Trade Union Force to Save Haiti (FOSSA).
Gas stations in Haiti have been suffering from fuel shortages since the beginning of September. One driving factor behind the shortages is that armed gangs have seized control of major oil terminals and blocked ports that hold fuel stores. Many people have alleged that sectors within the ruling Haitian Tèt Kale Party (PHTK) have sided with the country’s main gang G9 and ordered the paramilitary group to block oil in the country.
The acute scarcity of fuel has impacted various indispensable activities such as electricity, hospitals, ambulance centers, water distribution, and communication, among others. Haitians have been left with few transportation options and forced to close businesses. The entire country is facing power outages and hours of blackouts. Hospitals are on the verge of shutting down as generators run dry, risking the lives of hundreds of people. Ambulances are unable to operate. People are facing great difficulty in finding potable water. Cell phone towers are going without power, leaving parts of the country isolated. Additionally, the hunger crisis is growing more severe with each passing day.
The government authorities and the police seem to have no response to the misery of the Haitian people. The high-level officials themselves are being targeted as the criminal gangs are slowly taking control of the country. Recently, on October 25, justice minister Quitel Liszt visited the Varreux distribution terminal, in the Cité Soleil municipality, to assess the situation before announcing measures to distribute gasoline to the stations. However, he was forced to retreat without fulfilling his objective. Members of a paramilitary group began shooting at his car because he did not have the authorization of the leader of the G9. It was reported that Liszt could have died in the attack if the security had not acted in time. Earlier this last month, on October 17, PM Henry and the head of the national police, Leon Charles were attacked in a similar way, when they went to Pont-Rouge monument, in capital Port-au-Prince, to pay homage to the father of the nation, Jean-Jacques Dessalines.
Meanwhile, on October 26, the representatives of the Agreement Monitoring Office (BSA) met PM Henry to find solution to the political crisis facing the country after the assassination of its President Jovenel Moïse in July. The representatives shared their position on holding general elections and a referendum to draft a new constitution. They said that there are no specific conditions established in the current constitution for conducting the elections, however, they emphasized that it does not allow a de-facto Prime Minister to change it. The representatives stressed that for the current crisis, a transition is needed that comes from a consensus among diverse political and social forces of the country. In this regard, they demanded that PM Henry present a concrete proposal to emerge from this crisis.
With inputs from Jean Waltes Bien-Aime, a Haitian journalist and translator with Radio Resistance and Haitian Popular Press Agency.