Motorbikes and cars waiting in long queues for increasingly scarce petrol have become a common sight in Port-au-Prince in recent weeks. Hundreds of vendors approach waiting vehicles with yellow petrol cans. Fights sometimes break out over who gets to sell or buy first.
This fuel crisis is damaging the economy. Thousands of children can’t get to school, many employees fail to get to work and businesses are badly hit: “Our clients can’t get anywhere and sales are down in all sectors”, complains businessman Réginald Boulos.
He and many others are forced to turn to the black market, where a gallon of petrol sells for 500 gourdes (about US$5.9), or about 250 per cent more than the price at the pump – if the pump wasn’t empty.
Haiti has stopped receiving cheap oil from Venezuela, which is struggling with its own economic and political crisis. To make matters worse, a waiting oil tanker has refused to unload until the government pays some of the US$60 million owed for previous deliveries.
Fuel price increases affect almost all Haitians and it feels as though the country could erupt at any moment.
/Ralph Thomassaint Joseph, Port-au-Prince
The postcards written by journalists in our network are published on the Blankspot Project website.