Francia Florestal, who was injured during clashes between armed gangs in Cite Soleil, sits with her father in a public square where they are taking refuge in the Tabarre neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2023. (AP Photo/Odelyn Joseph)

Malgré un contexte mondial particulièrement chargé, Haïti a été au centre des discussions du Conseil de sécurité des Nations unies. Celui-ci a ainsi voté le 2 octobre l’envoi d’une «mission multinationale d’appui à la sécurité », et a adopté le rapport final sur le régime de sanctions appliqué à ceux qui soutiennent la violence dans le pays. Une façon de démontrer l’ engagement de l’ONU. Mais cette agitation cache mal les limites et les contradictions de la diplomatie internationale.

La mise en place d’un régime de sanctions et la demande du gouvernement haïtien d’un déploiement d’une force armée spécialisée datent d’octobre 2022.…  Seguir leyendo »

Police officers leaving after a news conference held to show weapons confiscated during an anti-gang operation in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on April 26. Ralph Tedy Erol/Reuters

Years ago, I was part of a team set up under the auspices of the United Nations to vet new police officers in Haiti. We worked to create a professional force that would protect Haitians and purge it of officers connected to the neighborhood gangs that were mugging and kidnapping people for ransom.

Then, in 2011, a new president widely believed to have ties to the gangs and drug dealers came to power. The project fell apart, and our years of effort came to nothing.

Today, the Haitian National Police force is meager — roughly 9,000 officers, compared with about 16,000 in 2021.…  Seguir leyendo »

Men on a motorcycle drive past burning tires during a demonstration a day after a gang attack on a police station that left six officers dead in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Jan. 26. Richard Pierrin/AFP via Getty Images

As Haiti teeters on the brink of state collapse amid a marked resurgence of kidnappings, insecurity, and gang violence, Western powers have resorted to their usual strategies to try to stabilize the country: sanctions on Haitian elites connected to gangs and efforts to strengthen the national police. Meanwhile, after nearly a year of debate, international actors including Kenya and the United States have inched closer to fulfilling Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry’s calls for yet another foreign intervention in the country.

There may be a role for punitive measures in the international community’s approach, but any strategy that focuses purely on criminal justice or military-style security mechanisms is doomed to fail, just as past U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »

The abduction last week of an American nurse and her child near Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, late last month is yet another tragic sign of intensifying insecurity in the country.

Across Haiti, 2 million people, including 1.6 million children and women, live in areas controlled by armed groups where the perpetration of horrific violence has become a daily reality, according to internal United Nations estimates. Children are killed walking outside or recruited to participate in the fighting, kidnappings for ransom are on the rise and rates of sexual and gender-based violence are surging.

On my most recent visit to Haiti in June, I met another health care worker who had been kidnapped.…  Seguir leyendo »

Demonstrators with signs that read in Creole, “Justice for Jovenel Moïse,” in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, July 7, 2022, on the first anniversary of his assassination. Odelyn Joseph/Associated Press

In July 2021, a group of heavily armed men stormed the home of President Jovenel Moïse of Haiti, killing him and wounding the first lady. There is still much we don’t know, but the U.S. Department of Justice has said the plot to oust him was hatched in Florida. Eleven people, including several American citizens, have been charged in relation to the conspiracy, and more than 40 people are being held — uncharged — in deplorable conditions in Haiti in connection with the crime.

Legal proceedings against the suspects have been slowly progressing in a largely empty courtroom in South Florida.…  Seguir leyendo »

Police officers patrol a neighborhood amid gang-related violence in downtown Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on April 25. Richard Pierrin/AFP via Getty Images

Over the past decade, Haitians have been held captive by a political leadership beholden to gangs. Former President Michel Martelly had extensive ties to drug dealers, money launderers, and gang leaders. Under his successor and protégé, the late Jovenel Moïse, senior government officials helped plan and supply attacks by a police officer-turned-gang leader named Jimmy Chérizier, or Barbecue, who later became a leader of the G-9 Family and Allies gang alliance that now controls much of Port-au-Prince.

When Moïse was assassinated in July 2021, the international community backed Ariel Henry to become prime minister, despite concerns about Henry’s relationship with a key suspect in the assassination.…  Seguir leyendo »

Haiti Has Overcome Other Crises. This Time, We Can’t Do It Alone

As an infectious disease doctor working in Haiti for over 40 years, I have wrestled with countless tragedies. I have battled problems like H.I.V., tuberculosis, Covid-19, earthquakes, hurricanes and floods. Each time, our community of health care providers, police officers, humanitarian workers, government officials and citizens have pulled together and come up with a solution to steer Haitians to safety.

Today is different.

We now have around 200 gangs, armed with military-grade weapons, rampaging through our neighborhoods, killing, kidnapping and raping our citizens. Civilian casualties are at wartime levels. Volker Türk, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, recently called our situation “a living hell”.…  Seguir leyendo »

Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, November 2022. Ralph Tedy Eroll / Reuters

To comprehend the depth of the rot in Haitian politics, consider the public figures who have been slapped with sanctions by the U.S. and Canadian governments over the last few months because of their corruption and connections to drug smuggling and gang violence. The list reads like a who’s who of the politically and economically powerful in Haiti. It includes two former Haitian presidents, Michel Martelly and Jocelerme Privert, and two former prime ministers, Laurent Lamothe and Jean-Henry Céant. Also on the sanctions list: two cabinet ministers, four former senators, several leading former members of parliament, and three prominent business figures who together own a good portion of the Haitian banking system.…  Seguir leyendo »

Men react in front of a burning barricade during a protest against the high cost of living and for an end to gang violence, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. November 18, 2022. REUTERS / Ralph Tedy Erol

Since the murder of President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021, Haiti has been paralysed by political gridlock and rampant gang violence. Public services have collapsed and cholera is spreading. Things are so bad that some Haitians now pin their hopes on foreign troops, despite the dismal legacy of earlier interventions in Haiti.

Ariel Henry, Haiti’s interim prime minister who took over from Moïse, enjoys support from influential foreign powers but faces stiff Haitian resistance. Since he assumed power, Henry’s rule has been opposed by the Montana Accord, a group of opposition politicians and civil society representatives. Henry was supposed to steer a transition to elections, but rampant insecurity has prevented a vote, and Henry also disbanded the election commission.…  Seguir leyendo »

A demonstrator facing police in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, March 2022. Ralph Tedy Erol / Reuters

In Haiti, violence, hunger, and cholera threaten to kill thousands of people. As conditions grow ever more dire, gangs are preventing humanitarian assistance from reaching those on the brink of death. A record 4.7 million people face acute hunger and almost 20,000 people are enduring “catastrophic hunger”, meaning they are at risk of starving to death, according to an October report from the UN World Food Program and the Food and Agriculture Organization. Those in greatest danger live in Cité Soleil, the largest slum in the country’s capital, Port-au-Prince, and home to about 260,000 people. The area is controlled by gangs; for the past six months, lawlessness and violence have made it nearly impossible for urgent humanitarian assistance to reach those most in need.…  Seguir leyendo »

Students on the first day of school in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Hector Retamal/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

As a schoolchild in Haiti in the 1970s, I was forbidden to speak my mother tongue, Haitian Creole, which we Haitians call Kreyòl. If I disobeyed, a teacher would remind me with the sharp smack of a ruler across my hand. Kreyòl, which emerged from the contact among French and African languages on colonial plantations, is the only language spoken by all Haitians. But the nation’s education system discriminates against it in favor of French, which is spoken by at most a tenth of the population. Kreyòl-speaking children are subjected to myriad classroom humiliations, including in at least one school a sign that says, “I have to always express myself in French.…  Seguir leyendo »

Manifestantes que exigían la renuncia de Ariel Henry, el primer ministro interino de Haití, en las calles de Puerto Príncipe este mes. Richard Pierrin/Agence France-Presse vía Getty Images

Los hombres armados que invadieron el barrio de Christelle Pierre en julio la obligaron a tomar una difícil decisión: correr o morir. Estaba embarazada de 6 meses de su primer hijo. Los hombres eran miembros de una de las despiadadas bandas criminales que campan a sus anchas por esta ciudad. Pronto incendiaron el barrio, que quedó reducido a sus cimientos.

La vi allí el mes pasado, un par de días después de que hubiese dado a luz encima de un cartón en un parque público. Los pañales de tela, los delicados arrullos y el colchón para el bebé que había estado guardando con todo el cuidado se habían quemado.…  Seguir leyendo »

Protesting in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, February 2022. Ralph Tedy Erol / Reuters

After the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021, Haitians found themselves bereft of both a functioning state and all good fortune. A devastating earthquake and tropical storm struck just a month after the killing. In November, fuel, transport, and basic supplies dried up in the capital, Port-au-Prince, as gangs shut down the ports. Half of Haiti’s 11 million people need food assistance. Only one percent of the population is vaccinated against COVID-19.

Yet it was Moïse’s violent, early-morning murder that embodied and exacerbated the two challenges that most stubbornly torment Haiti: a broken political system and the deep connections between politicians and criminals.…  Seguir leyendo »

My Group Can Save Haiti. Biden Is Standing in Our Way

On the streets of Port-au-Prince in February, demonstrators demanded that the Haitian president, Jovenel Moïse, step down because he had overstayed his elected term. His administration had dissolved Parliament after failing to hold elections, and he had illegally packed the judiciary and electoral commissions. Armed gangs, acting with his support, massacred protesters and terrorized poor and powerless citizens. Government agencies were a shambles, as they have been for years.

With the United States and other countries providing unstinting support for Mr. Moïse, Haitian civil organizations realized that the only way Haiti would be saved was if they saved it.

That month, groups representing unions, professional associations, farmers’ alliances, human rights and diaspora organizations, Voodoo groups and churches formed the Commission to Search for a Haitian Solution to the Crisis.…  Seguir leyendo »

A Growing Gang Problem Has Taken Haiti Hostage

Puerto Príncipe, Haití, se ha convertido en la capital mundial del secuestro.

Hace más de una semana, 17 personas de un grupo misionero con sede en Estados Unidos fueron secuestradas, el ataque flagrante más reciente de este tipo. En abril, un grupo de secuestradores interrumpió un servicio evangélico que se transmitía en vivo por Facebook para capturar al pastor y a tres feligreses. Pocos días después, en otro evento, cinco sacerdotes católicos, dos monjas y otras tres personas fueron capturadas mientras se dirigían a un servicio religioso en un suburbio al norte de Puerto Príncipe. Fueron liberados después de tres agonizantes semanas.…  Seguir leyendo »

A Growing Gang Problem Has Taken Haiti Hostage

Port-au-Prince, Haiti, has become the world’s kidnapping capital.

A little over a week ago, 17 individuals from a U.S.-based missionary group were abducted in the latest brazen attempt of its kind. In April, kidnappers interrupted an evangelical service being streamed on Facebook Live to seize the pastor and three churchgoers. A few days later, in yet another event, five Catholic priests, two nuns and three others were taken while heading to a church service in a suburb north of Port-au-Prince — only to be released after three agonizing weeks.

The incidents underscore the growing confidence and power of Haiti’s armed gangs.…  Seguir leyendo »

Protesters demand the release of kidnapped Americans near the missionaries' headquarters in Titanyen, north of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Oct. 19. (Joseph Odelyn/AP)

Last weekend, 17 missionaries — 16 Americans and one Canadian — were kidnapped outside Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Kidnapping has become a regular occurrence in Haiti, the country with the world’s highest per capita kidnapping rate.

But even with rampant abductions, the targeting of foreigners is rare. As in other global kidnapping hot spots, the vast majority of kidnapping victims are local nationals. According to the Haitian Center for Analysis and Research for Human Rights, less than 5 percent of kidnapping victims since January have been foreigners.

A criminal gang called 400 Mawozo, known for violence, kidnapping and extortion, reportedly took the missionaries hostage.…  Seguir leyendo »

El primer ministro de Haití, Ariel Henry, durante una entrevista con AP en Puerto Príncipe el 28 de septiembre de 2021. (AP Photo/Joseph Odelyn)

Cuando el presidente Jovenel Moïse me pidió el 5 de julio que dirigiera su gobierno como primer ministro, sé que quizás no fui la opción más esperada. No formaba parte del círculo íntimo del presidente y ya no estaba involucrado en la política. Estaba ocupado con mi profesión médica, ya que soy uno de los pocos neurocirujanos en Haití.

Acepté el cargo porque creí en la visión y el compromiso del presidente de dejar un legado a través de, primero, un cambio de nuestra Constitución y segundo, la organización de unas elecciones que tenían más de un año pospuestas. Las elecciones presidenciales iban a realizarse el 26 de septiembre, y si no hubiera sucedido lo impensable quizás ya tendríamos en este momento cierta claridad en el camino a seguir.…  Seguir leyendo »

Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry attends an interview at his private residence in Port-au-Prince on Sept. 28. (Joseph Odelyn/AP)

When President Jovenel Moïse asked me on July 5 to lead his government as prime minister, I know I may not have been the choice most expected. I was not part of the president’s inner circle, and I was no longer involved in politics. I was busy with my medical practice as one of the few neurosurgeons in Haiti.

I accepted the position because I believed in the president’s vision and commitment to leaving a legacy by first changing our constitution, and second, by organizing the elections that had been delayed for more than a year. Presidential elections were to take place Sept.…  Seguir leyendo »

Víctimas del terremoto esperan durante la distribución de alimentos en el barrio de Picot en Les Cayes, Haití.Monica Gonzalez

Fenómenos naturales adversos como terremotos y huracanes son congénitos a Haití. De la mitad del siglo XVI al pasado 14 de agosto, la nación caribeña ha registrado unos 17 terremotos. Seis de ellos de magnitud de entre 7.0 y 8.1 en la escala de Richter causaron serios daños. Tal no es sólo la realidad de Haití sino de todo el Caribe: Cuba, Jamaica, Trinidad y Tobago, y Martinica han sufrido sismos de magnitud de entre 7.3 y 7.7 en los últimos 15 años. La República Dominicana tuvo en 1946 un sismo de magnitud 8.1, que fue en promedio 73 veces más potente que los dos últimos terremotos de Haití.…  Seguir leyendo »