SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- The U.S. and Canada sent armored vehicles and other supplies to Haiti on Saturday to help police fight a powerful gang amid a pending request from the Haitian government for the immediate deployment of foreign troops.
A U.S. State Department statement said the equipment was bought by Haiti’s government, but it did not provide further details on the supplies flown on military aircraft to the capital of Port-au-Prince.
A spokesman for the U.S. military’s Southern Command said he could not provide further details on the supplies sent, though he added it was a joint operation involving the U.S. Air Force and Royal Canadian Air Force.
“This equipment will assist (Haiti’s National Police) in their fight against criminal actors who are fomenting violence and disrupting the flow of critically-needed humanitarian assistance, 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, some 300 hospitalizations and at least 35 deaths, with experts warning the numbers are likely much higher than what i's being 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 also have blocked roads in major cities to protest a sharp rise 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 back on services and banks and grocery stores open on a limited basis as fuel, water and other supplies dwindle across Haiti.
The owners of the fuel terminal announced Saturday that armed men had attacked their installations for a second time and fled with more than 28,000 gallons of petroleum products after overpowering surveillance and emergency personnel at the facility.
It was the second time this week that armed men broke into the terminal, which stores more than 10 million gallons of gasoline and diesel and more than 800,000 gallons of kerosene.