Haiti: Gang Leader Barbecue says Gas Can Flow after Cops Broke Blockade

Former police officer Jimmy "Barbecue" Cherizier, leader of the 'G9' coalition, speaks during a press tour of the La Saline shanty area of Port-au-Prince, Haiti November 3, 2021. REUTERS/Ralph Tedy Erol/File Photo
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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Nov 6 (Reuters) – Haitian gang leader Jimmy “Barbecue” Cherizier said on Sunday that fuel trucks can approach the Varreux terminal without fear for their safety, days after police broke up a blockade that had halted fuel distribution for nearly two months.

The G9 coalition of gangs led by Cherizier in mid-September dug trenches and put up barricades at the entrance to Varreux, leading to crippling fuel shortages and creating a humanitarian crisis as Haitians struggled to find food and water.

“Once again, the drivers and employees of the Varreux terminal can come down without fear,” Cherizier said in a video circulating online. “We’ve decided among us … to allow for the gas to be released.”

Haiti’s police on Friday said they had retaken control of the terminal after confronting the gangs in the area. Heavy shooting continued on Saturday, said one source familiar with the situation, adding things had calmed down on Sunday.

It was still not evident when fuel would begin flowing.

“Our government is working hard on getting our citizens back to everyday activities,” said a spokesperson for Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who declined to comment on Cherizier’s statement.

“We appreciate the efforts of the national police forces. We need schools to reopen. We need to go to elections so our country can have legitimate institutions.”

The blockade created a humanitarian crisis so severe that the United Nations last month discussed sending a strike force to take back control of the terminal.

The fuel shortages halted most economic activity and forced hospitals and businesses to scale back operations sharply or shut their doors, just as the country suffered an outbreak of cholera.

The United States and Canada on Friday imposed sanctions on two Haitian politicians, including the president of the country’s Senate, who Washington accused of abusing their positions to traffic drugs and collaborate with gangs.

Reporting by Harold Isaac in Port-au-Prince and Brian Ellsworth in Caracas; Editing by Daniel Wallis
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