Haiti Gang Leader Allows Fuel Deliveries for Week, Won't Again Until Prime Minister Resigns

The leader of the powerful Haitian gang G9 said Friday that the group would allow trucks to start refueling again at a guarded port, but halt operations again in a week if Prime Minister Ariel Henry doesn't resign, the Associated Press reported. Last month, G9 blocked entry into the Varreux terminal where fuel is stored and allocated, prompting a growing national crisis that affects hospitals, gas stations and water supplies in the capital city of Port-au-Prince.

Gang leader Jimmy "Barbecue" Chérizier announced the temporary relaxation of the blockade in a news conference, but warned that the gang would start blocking fuel deliveries again if the prime minister does not heed his resignation calls. Chérizier alleges that Henry played a role in the July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moise, the AP reported.

"The doors of the Varreux plant are wide open so that the trucks can get their supplies without fear," Chérizier said Friday. "Hospitals, schools, universities, embassies must reopen and be able to supply themselves without any problem."

The AP saw two tanker trucks arrive at the port, refuel there and leave again shortly after Chérizier made the announcement.

When Chérizier initially called on Henry to resign last month, Henry responded by saying that the government does not negotiate with criminals, Reuters reported. The crisis has spurred many Haitian truck drivers threatened by gang retaliation and kidnappings to stop transporting fuel, even though Henry said last month that the government would provide police escorts to protect to fuel delivery trucks.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

G9 Permits Temporary Refuel Period
The leader of the Haitian gang G9 said Friday that the group would allow trucks to start refueling again at a guarded port, but halt operations again in a week if Prime Minister Ariel Henry doesn’t resign. Above, a gas distribution truck fills up at the Varreux fuel terminal in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on November 12, the first day trucks have entered for three weeks. Matias Delacroix/AP Photo

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 October 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.

Haiti Crisis Worsening
The U.S. government is urging U.S. citizens to leave Haiti given the country's deepening insecurity and a severe lack of fuel that has affected hospitals, schools and banks. Above, police officers patrol at an intersection in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, November 11. Matias Delacroix/AP Photo