A disastrous earthquake hit Haiti in 2010, leaving the country in deep distress. Reconstruction failed to address the systemic problems underlying its extreme socio-economic inequality and endemic political and gang violence. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021 and a bout of natural disasters soon thereafter, Haiti’s humanitarian plight has gone from bad to worse. Crisis Group aims to shed light on the sources of Haiti’s strife and supports core reforms to the security sector and state that could pave the way for credible elections, improved security and clean government.
7 July marks the second anniversary of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse’s assassination. In this Q&A, Crisis Group expert Diego Da Rin explains why insecurity has gripped Haiti since the murder and why some Haitians have turned to self-defence groups to fend off rising gang power.
Self-defence groups continued operations to tackle dire gang violence, regional bloc facilitated talks between acting PM Henry and opposition groups, and international actors boosted support for police.
Civilian efforts to confront gangs continued. Self-defence movement known as Bwa Kale continued anti-gang operations in capital Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas, helping curb criminal activities in some places. In Artibonite department, civilians allied with Jean-Denis gang to oust its rival Gran Grif gang; notably, civilians escorted by group 8 June burned several houses where Gran Grif members were staying. Violence continued elsewhere. Notably, armed men reportedly from Kraze Barye gang carried out several assaults in Tabarre neighbourhood of capital, including 7 June attacking private residence of former senator, 9 June setting fire to another senator’s house and 13 June ransacking Jamaican consulate, leading to suspension of consular services. Kraze Barye gang 13 June abducted journalist in Tabarre, released her hours later before 20 June kidnapping her husband, former head of Haiti’s provisional electoral council; dozens of other kidnappings reported.
Dialogue between govt and opposition resumed without major breakthrough. CARICOM, body of Caribbean nations, 11-13 June convened Haitian politicians and civil society leaders in Jamaica for talks aimed at resolving political crisis; High Transitional Council (HTC) members did not attend. Though rekindling dialogue marked positive step, sides made little progress toward creating more inclusive transitional govt. Most major opposition forces called for presidential council during transitional period; acting PM Henry, however, said he is willing only to add more members to HTC. Henry 14 June said dialogue would continue in Port-au-Prince.
International partners stepped up support to Haitian National Police (HNP). U.S. VP Kamala Harris 8 June announced Washington would set up investigative unit with HNP to facilitate investigation and prosecution of transnational crimes; French police 13 June arrived in Port-au-Prince to train special police units; and Canadian FM Mélanie Joly 15 June announced launch of Ottawa-led “joint security coordination cell” based in Dominican Republic to work with HNP, though Dominican Republic denied agreeing to proposal. Henry’s calls for multinational force continued, reiterated by UN official 28 June following country visit, saying “the survival of an entire nation is at stake”.
[The gangs in Haiti are] running out of tools to control people. They extort, but there’s only so much money that can be extorted from people that are really poor.
In this video, Frank Giustra speaks about the level of suffering Haiti is currently experiencing.
Criminal gangs are wreaking havoc in Haiti, nudging public opinion toward accepting the idea of an international force that would help restore security. Outside powers should prepare a mission only with solid backing from the country’s politicians, including their pledges to form a transitional government.
This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard Atwood speaks with Renata Segura and Diego Da Rin, Crisis Group’s Latin America experts, about whether foreign forces can help tackle Haiti’s spiralling gang violence, political gridlock and latest cholera outbreak.
Foreign Troops Might Be the Least Bad Option
Increasingly deadly turf wars between rival gang coalitions have revealed the depth of Haiti’s political morass. In this Q&A, Crisis Group shows how the former and the latter are deeply intertwined.
This roundtable examines the causes of violence and instability in Haiti and explores the ways in which Haitians, with the support of the international community, can take actions to overcome the current crisis.
Haiti is reeling from the president’s assassination, a major earthquake and a severe tropical storm. The country needs urgent assistance, and its planned elections can wait. Outside powers should channel aid through local civil society groups, help investigate high-level crimes and support pressing reforms.
The killing of President Jovenel Moïse in murky circumstances has plunged the country into political turmoil. In this Q&A, Crisis Group expert Mariano de Alba explains the state of play and what outside actors should do as they seek to help Haiti achieve stability.
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