Haiti: A Country Held Hostage by Armed Gangs

May 27, 2023
Source: fsspx.news

Haiti is in chaos. In particular, Port-au-Prince, its capital, has long been held hostage by armed gangs, all involved in criminal activities ranging from extortion to drug trafficking to kidnapping for ransom. The situation is so serious that the United Nations is calling for the deployment of an international force.

The Security Council, while acknowledging the deteriorating security situation in the country, failed to agree on the formation of such a force. Meanwhile, the Haitian population is left to fend for itself. In the face of the violence and the incompetence of the security forces, Haitians have organized themselves into self-defense groups, thus increasing the risks.

“People don't trust the leaders or the international community. A few months ago, the government in place asked for help from the international community to fight against the armed gangs,” Fr. Nestor Fils-Aimé, provincial superior of Canada of the Clercs de Saint-Viateur told Fides ( CSV) on the island.

“The population was suspicious because these military interventions – there have been several over the past 30 years – have never produced anything. They were never intended to permanently eradicate banditry. In addition, some members of the government and national police officers maintain close ties with the bandits and protect them.”

“Several churches have had to close their doors,” said the missionary. “The Church repeats that the solution cannot be sought through violence. What is desired and demanded is the disarmament of armed groups, the control of firearms, and an adequate judicial system. If you want lasting peace, these are the conditions,” adds Fr. Nestor.

The Viatorian then explains that the recognition and encouragement by Helen Lalime, UN representative in Haiti, of the federation of a group of nine armed gangs called “G9 en famille” constituted an additional challenge for the population.

“It is this international community that has put in place a government that does not care about popular demands and does not want to put an end to the armed gangs that terrorize the population.”

“When the government of Ariel Henry, President of Haiti and interim Prime Minister of Haiti since July 20, 2021, requested the intervention of the United Nations, the population saw it as a means of protecting their unpopular government and of being able to organize elections in favor of the party of Michel Marthély, President of the Republic of Haiti from May 14, 2011 to February 7, 2016, the PHTK (Parti Haïtien Tèt Kale), an acronym which is a mixture of French and Haitian Creole.”

Until now, concludes Fr. Nestor, “the international community had never given a serious response to the Haitian government. Between hesitation and reluctance, no country wanted to lead an international force. It was only when the people started taking the law into their own hands and the riots became threatening, even to some political leaders, that the Security Council suddenly spoke of an international force.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres denounced the fact that “the Haitian people remain in the grip of one of the worst human rights crises in decades and a serious humanitarian emergency.”

According to a recent United Nations report, in the first three months of 2023 alone, the number of officially reported murders increased by 21% nationwide compared to the last quarter of the previous year: 815 against 673. The number of kidnappings has also risen alarmingly, from 391 to 637 (an increase of 63%).