Haiti has been going through a hell of a time in the recent past but especially since its former president Jovenel Moïse was assassinated in 2021 and the prime minister Ariel Henry took power. The subsequent governments have been weak and as a result, armed gangs have started taking over in parts of the country, especially its capital Port-au-Prince, terrorizing he population.
People seem to have finally had enough and as a result vigilante groups of citizens have struck back at the gangs.
As Vélina Élysée Charlier ventured on to the streets of her conflict-stricken city last week, she encountered scenes that will haunt her for many years to come.
Armed civilians dragging bodies through the streets. Smouldering corpses. Young men with machetes chasing suspected gangsters they planned to kill.
“I’ve seen enough dead people for many lifetimes,” said the Haitian human rights activist. “Since Monday, if you get killed, you get burned. It’s kill, burn, kill, burn … It’s nothing I would want anyone else to witness. It stays with you … It’s hell, you know?”
The nightmarish events unfolding in Haiti’s coastal capital, Port-au-Prince, began before dawn on Monday when members of one of its notorious gangs reportedly tried to seize control of the city’s Turgeau area.
“What they didn’t count on was the population striking back,” said Charlier, who works in the neighbourhood.
Over the coming hours, civilians brandishing knives, rocks and handguns rose up against the heavily armed criminals who control more than 80% of Haiti’s capital and whose activities have led the United Nations to compare the situation there to a war.
As the sun rose, the bloodshed spread. In the Canapé-Vert neighbourhood, 13 suspected gangsters were beaten, stoned to death and burned after their minibus was stopped by police. In Turgeau another six men were reportedly set on fire.
This seems like a spontaneous uprising of ordinary people against the gangs, which is not something that you normally see.
Haiti has a long and proud revolutionary history.
In the midst of the French Revolution (1789–99), slaves, maroons, and free people of color launched the Haitian Revolution (1791–1804), led by a former slave and the first black general of the French Army, Toussaint Louverture. After 12 years of conflict, Napoleon Bonaparte’s forces were defeated by Louverture’s successor, Jean-Jacques Dessalines (later Emperor Jacques I), who declared Haiti’s sovereignty on 1 January 1804—the first independent nation of Latin America and the Caribbean, the second republic in the Americas, the first country in the Americas to eliminate slavery, and the only state in history established by a successful slave revolt. Apart from Alexandre Pétion, the first President of the Republic, all of Haiti’s first leaders were former slaves.
Sadly, that initial promise was undermined by a series of brutal dictatorships, most recently and prominently Francois ‘Papa Doc’ Duvalier and his son Jean-Claude ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier, who looted the country and left the people impoverished. The US also invaded and occupied the country from 1915-1934 and treated it like a colony afterwards. Natural disasters like the massive earthquake of 2010 that killed anywhere between 160 and 300,000 people, left about 1.6 million homeless, and reduced many buildings to rubble added to that nation’s woes.
There are fears that this may expand into a civil war, something that happens when people are pushed to. desperation.
Haiti is on the “brink of a civil war”, the humanitarian group Mercy Corps has warned, as violence between criminal gangs and civilians risks spiralling.
Mercy Corps said on Monday that the deteriorating security situation and rising prices have also sparked a hunger crisis in the Caribbean nation.
With the escalating violence — particularly in the capital Port-au-Prince, where gangs have taken over large parts of the city — families are losing access to basic necessities, including food and clean water, the group added.
“The population has been pushed to make impossible decisions, like choosing between taking children to a hospital or health clinics to treat cholera at the risk of being kidnapped and killed, or staying home and hoping they will get better,” said Lunise Jules, Mercy Corps country director for Haiti.
Jules added that many residents are starting to question, “Why not seek revenge and take justice into their own hands?”
The people of Haiti may be trying to draw upon their revolutionary heritage in deciding to use force to fight back against the gangs. But the results have been staggering in the violence that has been let loose.
johnson catman says
Time regressive occupation?
[Corrected. Thanks. -Mano]
Little-known fact: in 1825, and with the connivance of the USA and other powers, France forced Haiti to agree to pay reparations for overthrowing slavery. The amounts demanded were so large Haiti was obliged to take out loans at interest from French banks, and it took 122 years for the “debt” to be paid off.
Pierce R. Butler says
Will USAians fight back when their cities get terrorized by MAGAt mobs?
Problem with that is that it’s the MAGAt mob that have most of the guns and who believe they’re being terrorised by the woke mafia/teh gayz/communists/Jews/illegals/”the lamestream media”/whoever.
It is perhaps ironic that “gun owners” and “MAGA persons” and “small government proponents” and “defend the police (state)” seem to be highly overlapping circles.
Basically, what sonofrojblake said.