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.

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.

Read more

© Copyright LaPresse