Gunmen control Haitian gas supply



PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP)—Gun-toting men barged past waiting motorists to commandeer dwindling gasoline supplies Tuesday, as a global oil embargo aimed at restoring democracy squeezed Haiti harder.

Parliament was again unable to muster a quorum to pass laws that could end the crisis. Lt. Gen. Raoul Cedras, head of the military that toppled President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 1991, wants the parliament to grant an amnesty to those involved in murders since the coup.

But many legislators are in hiding at home or abroad, afraid that anti-Aristide thugs will kill them if they appear in public.

Political violence blamed on the ruling military, as well as the military’s intransigence, has hampered efforts to bring Aristide home under a U.N.-brokered accord signed in July.

Under the agreement signed by Cedras and Aristide, the military chief was to have resigned before the return of Aristide, the country’s first freely elected leader. The accord called for Aristide to return on Saturday.

The United Nations imposed the oil and arms embargo Oct. 18, after Cedras showed growing unwillingness to step down and military-backed workers turned back a U.S. ship carrying U.N. workers who were to help implement the agreement.

A draft resolution to expand the sanctions into a full trade embargo was being circulated Tuesday at the United Nations, sources said.

The resolution would ban all trade with Haiti except for humanitarian goods, including food, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

A U.S. Embassy spokesman, Stanley Schrager, on Tuesday characterized the political efforts to return Aristide as ‘‘stymied.’‘

Despite the political paralysis, the oil embargo has sunk its teeth into the Western Hemisphere’s most impoverished country.

Because of insufficient fuel, deliveries of drinkable water to the capital’s huge Cite Soleil slum were cut by two-thirds on Tuesday. Aid officials also are concerned that food aid could be delayed by the fuel shortage.

The neighboring Dominican Republic, however, said trucks carrying food and other goods, but not fuel, had gone into Haiti the past few days. A previous embargo on Haiti, lifted Aug. 27, was widely violated by shipments from the Dominican Republic.

On Tuesday, armed thugs at one station commandeered buckets of gasoline then sold it nearby for $6 a gallon—about four times the pump price. The only people seen leaving the station with gasoline were carrying guns.

Scattered shooting was reported in some sections of the capital. Gunshots killed a 25-year-old woman inside her home Tuesday, independent Radio Metropole reported. Another man was found shot to death on the streets of the Bel-Air neighborhood.

Seven civilian army auxiliaries beat up, robbed and then dragged a street vendor into her home and raped her in the capital’s Petionville suburb Monday evening, neighbors said.

The United States, meanwhile, maintained a security alert for its nationals. Schrager, the U.S. Embassy spokesman, said there had been ‘‘unconfirmed threats that mid-level American diplomats or people who work for international organizations’‘ might become targets of violence.

In other developments, two radio stations were shut down Monday in Gonaives, 90 miles north of the capital. A radio journalist and two technicians were arrested in the closings remained jailed Tuesday.

The head of the Gonaives military district, Capt. Casteras Fils, told The Associated Press by the telephone that the stations were shut down because they were playing what he called a pro-Aristide message.

Fils said that the radios said ‘‘the house is not theirs. We will take back our house this Saturday,’‘ which he interpreted as a reference to the scheduled return of Aristide. Fils would not identify the three, saying: ‘‘That is your job.’‘

But several people in Gonaives said the stations did not give such a message and were guilty only of playing Haitian music.

‘‘They (the military) just want us to listen to their music, which is machine guns,’‘ a 25-year-old city resident, Jules, said by telephone. He gave only his first name for fear of retribution.

Since Aristide’s ouster, most rural stations have been shut down through repression of lack of electricity. Many journalists are in hiding or outside the country, and many still working practice self-censorship.

Also Tuesday, a U.S. Coast Guard cutter intercepted 15 people trying to flee the country, the first boat people intercepted since the embargo began.