Haitian authorities say they have regained control of the main gas terminal in the capital Port-au-Prince, ending the gangs’ stranglehold on the vital energy facility.
The news comes after two weeks of negotiations with Haitian gang leader Jimmy Cherizier to relinquish control of the Varreux terminal, according to Haitian politician Dr. Harrison Ernest, who met with Cherizier and Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry.
Chérizier, also known as “Barbacoa”, is the leader of the G9, a federation of more than a dozen Haitian gangs based in Port-au-Prince.
“I spoke to Barbeque and told them to leave the terminal because the kids had to go back to school. And we urged the government to do its part to make sure that there is fuel and that the fuel has to reach the customer,” said Ernest, a Haitian doctor and politician from the country’s Konstwi Lavi party.
Konstwi Lavi has been “playing the role of mediator between the government and the gang that blocked the gas terminal,” Ernest added.
“For two weeks we have been working with the government and the gangs to unblock the fuel.”
Haiti’s government has denied that it has negotiated with the G9 to reopen the gas terminal, although an adviser to Henry told CNN that the leader of the Caribbean nation did meet with Ernest.
“We do not deal with gangs or negotiate with gangs, we want schools to reopen and economic activities to resume as soon as possible. The prime minister met with (Ernest), but they did not enter into any negotiations with gangs on our behalf,” said Special Adviser Jean Junior Joseph.
Haitian National Police spokesman Gary Desrosiers also confirmed that the Varreux terminal is now under police control. The terminal, located southwest of Port-au-Prince, supplies most of the oil to Haiti. G9 gang members have blockaded it for the past six weeks, preventing access to fuel in the country.
The G9 left the Varreux terminal over the weekend, a senior security source told CNN.
But fuel relief for Haiti remains a long way off, with access roads to the terminals still blocked by containers and other obstacles.
Some armored vehicles of the Haitian National Police have been seen in the Varreux area, but so far there is no movement of trucks or the presence of employees at the terminal because operations will resume, the source said.
Haiti’s government requested international military aid nearly a month ago as it struggled with intertwined health, energy and security issues.
Anti-government protests have also paralyzed the country, with schools, businesses and public transport across the country mostly closed.
Since August 22, Haitians have been demonstrating against chronic gang violence, poverty, food insecurity, inflation and fuel shortages.