Unions in Haiti went on strike Monday to protest the country’s ongoing security crisis involving mass kidnappings, violence and fuel shortages.
An indefinite strike was carried out last week for the same reason but as the days went by, private transport was reinstated, and people returned to work and many businesses resumed operations.
Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, has been on the verge of paralysis due to fuel shortages, having previously struggled to recover from earthquakes, the assassination of the president, and gang violence and mass kidnappings that have plagued the region.
For more than two weeks, fuel deliveries have been disrupted by gang blockades and the kidnapping of fuel truck drivers. This has prompted residents of Port-au-Prince to search for gas and diesel in desperation.
The fuel is widely used to run generators to compensate for the country’s frequently cut off electricity system.
Criminal gangs have become an influential force in Haiti.
One of the gangs recently kidnapped 17 members of a US-based missionary group and reportedly demanded a ransom of $17 million for their release. The head of the gang of 400 mawozo warns that the hostages will be killed if their demands are not met. So far there is no news about their fate.
The gangs have also kidnapped hundreds of Haitians, and the government appears unable, or unwilling, to confront them.
Many gas stations remained closed for days, and fuel shortages were so severe that health authorities announced this week that hospitals across the country would run out of the diesel needed to stay operational if the fuel crisis persisted. [lt/jm]