Gang Violence In Haiti Rests On The Brink Of Civil War

Giles Clarke/Getty Images https://www.cnn.com/2023/10/03/americas/gallery/haiti-displaced-violence/index.html
Giles Clarke/Getty Images https://www.cnn.com/2023/10/03/americas/gallery/haiti-displaced-violence/index.html

On Mar. 3, 2024, gangs in Haiti broke into a federal prison and released 3,700 inmates resulting in a 72-hour state of emergency. Since Feb. 29. A series of gang violence incidents have been carried out all throughout Haiti’s capital city, Port-au-Prince. Over recent years, the gang violence crisis in Haiti has spun out of control with an 122% increase of gang violence-related incidents in 2023, including 8,400 victims of killings, kidnappings, and injuries.

Due to the rise in violence, Haiti officials currently struggle  for control over the country and have since fled. These gangs have taken over key government positions and have gained control over much of the capital city. The biggest gang group in Haiti is an alliance between gangs called the Revolutionary Forces of the G9 Family and Allies, which is run by Jimmy Chérizier: a former police officer commonly known by the name  “Barbecue.” As of recently, armored vehicles can be seen driving through the city as law enforcement struggles to gain control over the gangs with only about 9,000 officers patrolling the 11.45 million population and government buildings. Without proper protection or income, the people of Haiti are in a state of distress.

The most vital port for the country of Haiti is in the capital city Port-au-Prince currently held under gang control. The port under siege is originally meant to supply food to millions of citizens due to the ongoing humanitarian crisis. According to the United Nations Children’s Fund, 59% of the 11 million people in Haiti live in poverty. Proposals for sending Kenyan law enforcement personnel to the  United Nations failed in January after Kenyan courts deemed it unconstitutional after President Moïse’s request.

Most recently, on Mar. 10, United States Marines airlifted employees out of the U.S. embassy in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and has since increased military security around the embassy. acting President Ariel Henry is currently taking refuge in Puerto Rico after returning from a meeting in Kenya due to the gang control of the international airport. Henry took power in 2021 after former President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated in his home by a suspected Colombian hitman orchestrated by his wife.

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Efforts to aid Haiti have taken a slow effect. President Joe Biden said, “the biggest thing we can do, and it is going to take time, is to increase the prospect of the police department in Haiti having the capacity to deal with the problems.” The United Nations is sending representatives from a group of countries, including the United States, Canada and France, to Jamaica in order to hold an emergency meeting in the later half of March. Many civil rights leaders within the country, however, are wary of international aid, due the many failed attempts to create political stability through military action. One example of this would be Operation Restore Democracy, which established democracy through the United Nations during the 1990’s but would later collapse in the early 2000’s. 

The rapid escalation in gang violence in the capital city of Haiti has created a dire situation for citizens in need. The acting President Henry has failed to gain control of the country and the country’s military is holding on to the scarce units they have left. Without the help of outside countries, Haiti’s conflict could potentially escalate into a civil war. 

 

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