Haiti PM condemns gangs, kidnappings in public address

Oct 28, 2021, 7:00 PM | Updated: Oct 29, 2021, 9:13 am
A worker waits to put a sack of carrots inside a truck at the Croix des Bosalles market in the La S...

A worker waits to put a sack of carrots inside a truck at the Croix des Bosalles market in the La Saline neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021, amid a strike and fuel shortages. Worker unions along with residents called for a general strike to demand the end of kidnappings, violence and insecurity in the streets. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

(AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Prime Minister Ariel Henry condemned gangs and kidnappings in a prerecorded address posted Friday in which he also reassured Haitians that the country was not running out of fuel despite severe shortages that have frustrated millions and sparked recent strikes.

It’s the first time Henry has acknowledged those issues in a public address since the Oct. 16 kidnapping of 17 members of a U.S.-based missionary group.. The 16 Americans, one Canadian and their Haitian driver were abducted amid a spike in gang-related kidnappings that police are struggling to control.

“If they do not stop their wrongdoing, the law will apply to them,” Henry said in his message. “The only option for bandits and all their sponsors is imprisonment or death if they do not want to change professions.”

The leader of the 400 Mawozo gang that kidnapped the missionaries, including five children, has said he would kill them if his demands are not met. Haitian officials have said the gang is seeking $1 million per person, but that it wasn’t clear if that included the children, the youngest of whom is 8 months old.

Henry did not mention the abduction of the missionaries, but denounced kidnappings in general, saying, “All those who take the Haitian people hostage, terrorize the population, are the enemies of the people.”

He also condemned those who are helping criminals by giving them weapons, ammunition and money, including “all those who deal with them so that they can take power. They are all enemies of the Haitian people, and we are treating them as enemies.”

Henry noted that he became prime minister roughly three months ago following the July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse and found “a country torn, divided, with a state in tatters whose democratic institutions are dysfunctional.

“The nation lives under the thumb of bandits. Citizens cannot leave the capital to go to the south. The country’s economic situation is dire. Inflation and high cost of living keep their hold on national life. The budget deficit has reached an unprecedented level and the gourd (currency) continues to drop sharply against the US dollar.”

The prime minister spoke days after a widespread strike led to schools, businesses and public transportation to shut down in the capital of Port-au-Prince and beyond to protest the lack of fuel and the country’s worsening situation. Gangs have been blamed for blocking gas distribution terminals, with at least one gang leader saying he would lift the blockade if Henry stepped down.

Henry said ships are waiting to unload fuel and that the country, which shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic, would not run out of gas. He added that he has created a crisis unit with top officials from finance, justice, police, public works, trade and other departments to find a “quick solution” to the fuel distribution problem.

He said the government has already placed additional fuel orders and said police have created a “security corridor” to the fuel supply center. He said the airports, Coast Guard boats and some hospitals and telephone companies have already received new fuel shipments and that police escorts are available for truck drivers who fear they will be kidnapped or killed.

He said he would not share further details to guarantee the operation’s success.

The shortages have affected hospitals, ambulances, schools, public transportation and many other parts of daily life.

“This is really catastrophic,” said Solon Cledion, director of a private school in Port-au-Prince, in a telephone interview. “The day-to-day is difficult. … We wonder how long this is going to last.”

Meanwhile, Doctors Without Borders said that its trauma hospital in Tabarre has been forced to limit patients and is only treating life-threatening emergencies. The aid group relies on generators due to ongoing power outages in Haiti.

“Without fuel, we can’t run our hospital,” Dr. Kanouté Dialla, the hospital’s manager, said in a statement. “We are doing our best to maintain our activities by adapting them from day to day, but this situation is unsustainable.”

Henry acknowledged the dire situation, noting that patients with COVID-19 who depend on respirators are among those who are at risk of dying if fuel is not available. In his speech, he congratulated one man who he said drove through dangerous communities to transport fuel and oxygen to a hospital and saved the lives of 60 patients.

The prime minister also announced that the office of the judge overseeing the investigation of the president’s slaying had been attacked. He did not provide details but said authorities are searching for those responsible. The previous judge in the case stepped down for personal reasons a day after one of his assistants died under unclear circumstances.

Henry said he is aware of people’s anger and that his administration is addressing the country’s multiple problems.

“To all those who have legitimate demands, who have declared they are fed up with inflation, poverty and insecurity, I guarantee that their voice is heard by the government,” he said. “Gangs are our enemies. No real solution to the country’s problems will emerge if we do not arm ourselves with the courage to fight and eliminate this scourge.”


Coto reported from San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Ex-Alaska attorney general pleads not guilty to sexual abuse

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A former Alaska attorney general pleaded not guilty Monday to charges he sexually abused a minor three decades ago when he was the alleged victim’s high school coach. Clyde “Ed” Sniffen, 58, entered his plea through his attorney, Jeffrey Robinson. Both appeared telephonically. Judge William Morse said a trial scheduling conference […]
16 hours ago
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz speaks during a news conference Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022, at the Minnesota ...
Associated Press

GOP attacks Minnesota governor in $250M food fraud case

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Republicans attacked Democratic Gov. Tim Walz on Monday after a judge took the rare step of disputing the administration’s claim that the judge prevented it from cutting off payments to Feeding Our Future, which is the target of a $250 million federal fraud case. The GOP candidates for governor, attorney […]
16 hours ago
Associated Press

Wichita man sentenced in ‘swatting’ case that led to death

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita man was sentenced Monday to 18 months in prison for his role in a hoax phone call that led police to shoot and kill an innocent man in 2017. Shane Gaskill was sentenced after pleading guilty in May to wire fraud, KSN reported. He was originally placed on probation […]
16 hours ago
FILE - Joyce Chiles, chief prosecutor for Mississippi's Fourth Judicial District, is seen in her of...
Associated Press

Prosecutor who worked on 1 renewal of Emmett Till case dies

GREENWOOD, Miss. (AP) — Funeral services were held Monday for the Mississippi prosecutor who worked on one of the renewed investigations into the 1955 lynching of Black teenager Emmett Till, a killing that galvanized the civil rights movement after his mother insisted on an open-casket funeral so people could see her son’s mutilated body. Joyce […]
16 hours ago
Associated Press

Man arraigned in slaying of Detroit radio news anchor

CHESTERFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A 55-year-old man has been charged in the slaying of a Detroit radio news anchor during an attack that also left two children and their mother injured. Arthur Williamson was arraigned Monday in district court in New Baltimore and ordered jailed on murder, assault with intent to murder and unlawful […]
16 hours ago
FILE - Leslie McCrae Dowless Jr. poses for a portrait outside of his home on Dec. 5, 2018, in Blade...
Associated Press

Plea agreements reached by 4 in NC Congress ballot probe

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Four people pleaded guilty on Monday to misdemeanors for their roles in absentee ballot fraud in rural North Carolina during the 2016 and 2018 elections. The convictions stemmed from an investigation that in part resulted in a do-over congressional election. Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway accepted the plea agreements in Wake […]
16 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
Haiti PM condemns gangs, kidnappings in public address