Haiti: Last month, just hours after Prime Minister Ariel Henry announced that fuel subsidies would be abolished and prices would double, daily life in Haiti began to spiral out of control.
As the protesters blocked the roads with iron gates and mango trees, gunshots could be heard. When Henry did not step down and prices for fuel and basic goods began to fall, Haiti's most powerful gang took a drastic action: he dug a ditch to block access to the Caribbean country's largest fuel terminal.
The poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere is suffering from an inflationary crisis that is squeezing its population and escalating protests have pushed society to the brink of collapse.
Parents are afraid to send their children to school because of violence, there is a lack of fuel and clean water, and it is difficult to keep hospitals, banks and grocery stores open.
A "low-intensity civil war" is how the president of the neighboring Dominican Republic described the situation.
In Haiti, daily life is extremely challenging, if not outright dysfunctional.
However, paralysis and despair of this magnitude never happened. Political unrest has been brewing since the mysterious assassination of Haiti's president last year; The situation has worsened with inflation rising to around 30%.
Pierre Kilic Semmels, who during a recent demonstration struggled to cope with thousands of other protesters who were marching, said, "If they don't understand us, we're going to convince them.
Since September 12, the fuel depot blocked by the gang has been unable to operate, cutting off about 45 million liters of diesel, petrol and over 3 million liters of kerosene stored there. A lot of gas stations have closed, and others are rapidly running out of fuel.
Recently, hospitals were forced to curtail essential services and water distribution companies were forced to close due to lack of fuel. With dwindling fuel supplies and exorbitant prices making it nearly impossible for many workers to buy fuel, banks and grocery stores are also struggling to stay open.
Since there is a severe lack of public transport, desperate people have to walk miles to get food and water.
According to Haiti-born Wesleyan University sociologist Alex Dupuy, Haiti is currently in total chaos. Because the police are unable to control them, "you basically have gangs doing what they want, wherever they want, whenever they want with complete leeway."
Dupuy said, "Anarchy "doesn't confuse Henry's actual government at all, and he probably benefits from it because it allows him to stay in power and postpone new elections as much as possible."
In Haiti, gangs have long held significant power, and since the assassination of President Jovenel Mosse in July 2021, their influence has only strengthened.
According to a UN estimate, 40 percent of Port-au-Prince is ruled by gangs. In recent months, they have killed hundreds of Haitians, including women and children, in their fight for control of more land. Additionally, they have evicted around 20,000 people from their homes. Incidents of kidnapping have increased.
In a speech read out to the United Nations General Assembly on 24 September, Henry said he had "no desire to stay in power any longer than necessary" and promised to call elections as soon as it was safe to do so.
Henry said that the very foundations of democracy and the rule of law are at risk as a result of the multidimensional crisis that my country is currently facing. Condemning the widespread looting and violence, he said, "Those responsible will have to answer for their crimes before history and the courts."
Also speaking at the United Nations, US Vice President Joe Biden said that Haiti is facing "an enormous humanitarian crisis and political-fueled mass violence."
After a bloody uprising toppled former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, UN peacekeepers improved the country's security and assisted in the rebuilding of the country's political institutions from 2004 to 2017. But for the time being, no foreign intervention in Haiti is an option.
Local political leaders have rejected the idea of outside aid, pointing out that UN peacekeepers in Haiti have sexually abused children and sparked a cholera epidemic that killed some 10,000 people in the past ten years. is inserted.
Mid-September saw the first wave of protests, with France and Spain closing their embassies and banks in Port-au-Prince. Protesters looted millions of dollars worth of food and water by breaking into businesses, homes of well-known politicians and even World Food Program warehouses.
Since then the protests have intensified. More recently, tens of thousands of people marched through the northern cities of Port-au-Prince and other surrounding areas, such as Gonaives and Cap-Haitian. "Ariel has to go!" They shouted, waving the emerald-green branches.
The main courthouse in Port-au-Prince is still occupied by gangs, among other issues, so the country's Bar Federation declined the prime minister's invitation to discuss the matter days prior to the scheduled reopening of Haiti's courts on October 3.
For buckets of water, hundreds of people have stood in line for hours every day. Due to roadblocks, delivery trucks cannot enter neighbourhoods.
The 22-year-old Lionel Simon declared, "I'm scared of this water," adding that he would use it to wash his clothes and add chlorine before drinking it.
Local health officials pleaded with gang leaders and protesters to allow fuel and water to flow into neighbourhoods after at least eight people died of cholera in recent days and dozens more were treated.
Simon, however, was unconcerned about cholera. His main worries are gangs and the rise of young children carrying weapons.
We're not sure if things will return to normal, he said. You don't even know if you'll make it to a morgue if you pass away today. You might be dumped on the sidewalk for dogs and other animals to eat. This demonstrates how insane the city has grown.
Since there is no international pressure for Henry to resign, according to Dupuy, an expert on Haiti, it is unlikely that he would do so. As things deteriorate, he expressed concern that there is no obvious solution and asked, "How much more boiling point can there be?"