SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — The United States and Canada sent armored vehicles and other supplies to Haiti Saturday to help police fight a powerful gang amid a pending request from the Haitian government for the immediate deployment of foreign troops.
A statement from the US State Department said the equipment was purchased by the government of Haiti, but did not provide further details on the supplies flown by military aircraft to the capital Port-au-Prince.
A spokesman for the US military’s Southern Command said he could not provide further details about the supplies sent, although he added that it was a joint operation involving the US Air Force and the Royal Canadian Air Force.
“This equipment will assist (the Haitian National Police) in their fight against criminal actors who incite violence and disrupt the flow of critically needed humanitarian aid, hindering efforts to halt the spread of cholera,” the State Department said.
The Pan American Health Organization said there are more than 560 suspected cases of cholera, about 300 hospitalizations and at least 35 deaths, with experts warning the numbers are likely to be much higher than what has been reported.
The equipment arrived more than a month after one of Haiti’s most powerful gangs surrounded a fuel terminal and demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Ariel Henry. Demonstrators have also blocked roads in major cities to protest a sharp increase in fuel prices after Henry announced in early September that his administration could no longer afford to subsidize fuel.
Since then, gas stations have closed, hospitals have cut services, and banks and convenience stores are opening on a limited basis as fuel, water and other supplies dwindle across Haiti.
The owners of the fuel terminal announced on Saturday that gunmen had attacked their facilities for the second time and escaped with more than 28,000 liters of petroleum products after overpowering surveillance and emergency personnel at the facility.
It was the second time this week that gunmen broke into the terminal, which stores more than 10 million liters of petrol and diesel and more than 800,000 liters of kerosene.