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A powerful Haitian gang leader lifted a blockade at a key fuel terminal this week that had been strangling the country’s capital for nearly two months as Haiti continues to grapple with economic and political crises, the Associated Press reported.
On Sunday, Jimmy Cherizier, leader of the G9 gang federation, said truck drivers can come and fill their tanks “without any fear.”
The decision came following government claims last week that authorities have had some success in reclaiming the terminal in Port-au-Prince, which was taken over by Cherizier’s gang in September.
The blockade cut off access to about 10 million gallons of diesel and gasoline, as well as more than 800,000 gallons of kerosene. The situation forced many gas stations to close, while hospitals had to severely reduce their critical services in the midst of a cholera outbreak.
Despite Cherizier’s announcement, it’s unclear who actually controls the fuel terminal and the surrounding area. The gang leader has also denied that he or his members held talks with politicians.
The government has not commented on Cherizier’s claims.
The gang leader’s announcement was welcomed by some Haitians, who referred to Cherizier as “Father” or “Mr. President.”
Violence in Haiti’s capital has skyrocketed in recent months as gangs battle to control key neighborhoods and roads. The country has also been plagued by natural disasters and political instability following the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July last year. At the same time, poverty levels have risen, in part due to double-digit inflation.
Last month, Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry requested the immediate deployment of foreign troops to assist Haiti’s security forces. The UN Security Council has yet to vote on the request, though it voted to impose sanctions on Cherizier.