According to the United Nations, over 470 people have been killed, injured or are missing in recent violence as gangs war with each other and the government. Government officials have been told to stay home and the violence is getting closer to key governmental institutions including the National Palace. This is not the first time that elites have used gangs as mercenaries and/or pawns for achieving their political or economic ambitions. What is new is the sheer scale of the violence, made worse by illicit shipments of weapons. The Haitian police are simply out numbered and out-gunned. Unless the Haitian government and its partners can develop sufficient numbers of well-trained, well-armed, sufficiently paid and reasonable accountable police officers with the right leadership, the situation will only get worse. The full NYT article by Maria Abi-Habib and Andre Paultre follows.
Gang violence in Haiti's largest city continues to have a pervasive negative impact that reverberates throughout the country, affecting security, the economy, food security, education, and health care. According to Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald, dozens of people have been killed and more than a hundred injured in a new round of deadly violence "aggravating fuel shortages, raising transportation costs and making an already troubling humanitarian crisis even worse." Further, 20,000 residents of the densely populated slums have been displaced by gang violence since May. A July 8 article about gang violence in Port au Prince is copied below and linked is an update by Charles.
A bit late in posting this, but in response to the recent New York Times series, a major French bank is hiring researchers to look into the history of its involvement in Haiti. It is not straight-forward given mergers and the loss of almost all relevant documentation over the years, hence the need for outside expertise. Haiti's history is one of exploitation by individual, institutions, and countries. As the article by Matt Apuzzo points out, foreign banks have played a significant role in maintaining an ecosystem of exploitation. This investigation is welcome and would not be happening without the NYT journalists and their reporting.
Gangs in Port au Prince thrive when there is an absence of governance, no rule of law, and economic stagnation. The UN has described current levels of gang violence as unprecedented and affecting all aspects of life - for example, 11 medical centers and 442 schools have closed. National roads connecting Port-au-Prince to the rest of the country are dangerous, limiting the movement of people and goods. While the security situation continues to deteriorate Haiti's developmental issues remain unaddressed - environmental degradation, lack of infrastructure and investment, poor basic services, and unrelenting brain drain. Security is not enough to address these underlying problems but it is a prerequisite - and the gangs will not give up territory willingly. The full CNN article follows.
The New York Times has run an excellent multi-part series on how the United States and France impoverished and de-stabilised while enriching themselves. The piece, copied below, is entitled "The Ransom" and covers how Wall Street, and in particular the Bank that became Citigroup, urged the US occupation of Haiti. Other pieces in this series include "The Root of Haiti's Misery: Reparation to Enslavers", "Haiti's Lost Billions", and "How a French Bank Captured Haiti" and "Demanding Reparations and Ending Up in Exile." Both in the past and at present Haitians struggle with racism, corporate greed, and political exploitation of other countries. This aspect of Haitian history is rarely tought in the USA or France - but it should be.
Good News! Upon having their generator stolen by a gang, the situation was grim for the Saint Croix Hospital in Leogane and the many people who depended upon it. With the support of Miami Herald readers, a new generator was purchased and transported to Leogane by boat in order to avoid having it stolen by gangs again. With their generous support the gang lost, the hospital re-opens, and much needed care can be provided to pregnant women. A small group of people committed to Haiti made a real difference in this situation.
Every aspect of Haitian society is being negatively affected by gangs, who in the absence of a functional government, operate with impunity. Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald reported that a violent gang in Martissant stole the generator of the Sainte Croix Hospital in Léogâne and are holding it for ransom. The hospital is forced to shut down unless the gang returns the generator or another is donated. This is a tragedy upon an existing tragedy given Haiti's already very high infant and maternal mortality rates. The full article follows.
This is not the first time that insecurity, poverty, a compromised police force, and a polticial power vacuum has enabled a surge in kidnappings. What is different this time is both the extent and the methods - police officers, doctors, priests, and entire busses of people have been kidnapped. Both rich and poor are vulnerable. The companies that continue to operate in Port au Prince are moving their staff into compounds, transporting them in armored cars, and some are commuting by boat to avoid the roads entirely. In this environment, instability will persist, the economy will not grow, and those who can will leave through either regular or irregular means will do so. As is so often said, Haiti is at a crossroads - the way ahead is uncertain. The full article by Washington Post contributor Anthony Faiola and Widlore Merancourt follows.
While the United States scrambles to resettle Afghan refugees, Haitian asylum seekers are being deported en masse. Many have experienced or witnessed human rights abuses but are being returned without a proper hearing. The UN Refugee Agency has expressed concern that these returns may violate international law. Human Rights Watch and many other advocacy organisations, domestic and internatrional, have denounced these returns from an administration that campaigned on making the asylum process humane and transparent. The Diaspora and its partners are mobilzing to demand due process and dignity. More information follows in the article by Washington Post journalists Tim Craig, Sean Sullivan, and Silvia Foster-Frau below.
The investigation into the assassination of Haitian Presien Jovenal Moise has broadened to include law enforcement in both Haiti and South Florida, including finding those who provided logistical and/or financial support. Part of the investigation is being carried out in Colombia given the significant role of hired Colombian mercenaries, both in custody and at large. The full article by Miami Herald journalists Kevin Hall, Jacqueline Charles, and Jay Weaver follows.