TL;DR (4-minute read)
- Haiti, having suffered in the grasps of violence and repression for most of its history, faces one of its worst outbreaks of violence in the country’s history due to displacement and the Covid-19 pandemic. Hundreds of innocent civilians are killed everyday, resulting in more and more people leaving the country in fear of gang violence; however, for those who remain in the impoverished country, the Covid-19 pandemic worsened the problem, as civilians are forced to participated in gang-affiliated actions, such as robbing vaccine-delivery trucks, due to the increased unemployment rate.
- Haitian officials allege that a group of “professional killers” broke into the Haitan President Jovenel Moise’s home near Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital, ruthlessly shooting him 16 times. After the president’s assasination, the country is plunged deeper into the chaos, as two potential leaders Ariel Henry, the Prime Minister that President Moise appointed two days before his assasination, and Claude Jospher, who currently assumes leadership, clash for authority.
Haiti, a small Carribean island, has seen a strong spike in gang violence in the metropolitan area since June 1st, 2021. Triggered by gang alliances and territorial disputes, Haitian gangs have fueled widespread insecurity, causing thousands of gang-affiliated and civilian casualties. Making matters worse, on July 7th, Haitan President Jovenel Moise was assassinated, sinking the impoverished nation deeper into the chaos.
1: Haiti’s Long History of Violence
When Haiti overthrew French rule in the 19th century, the small country was the first Latin American and Caribbean independent state of the colonial era. However, despite its humble, peaceful origin, Haiti has suffered in the grasps of violence and repression for most of its history.
When Haiti overthrew French rule in the 19th century, the small country was the first Latin American and Caribbean independent state of the colonial era. However, despite its humble, peaceful origin, Haiti has suffered in the grasps of violence and repression for most of its history. Adding on to the already sticky situation, Haiti’s poor infrastructure caused any small natural disaster to be magnified. hundreds of times over. Violence, displacement, and the Covid-19 pandemic led to Haiti facing one of its worst outbreaks of violence in the country’s history.
2: What is the Recent Situation in 2020?
Violence: “The United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) reported 944 intentional homicides, 124 abductions, and 78 cases of sexual and gender-based violence from January through August 31, with at least 159 people killed as a result of gang violence, including a four-month-old infant.” Additionally, politicians and gangs have contributed to the climate of insecurity currently present in Haiti. According to the Human Rights Watch, “in 2019, Cherizier and other National Police also aided in killing at least 3, wounding 6, and burning the houses of 30 families in the Bel-Air neighborhood, where residents were protesting a rise in fuel prices, BINUH reported. Cherizier is suspected of attacks in the Grande Ravine neighborhood in 2017 as well. To date, no criminal proceedings have been initiated against those implicated.”
Displacement: This sense of instability and insecurity led to another major problem prevalent in Haiti: displacement. According to the Human Rights Watch, “at least 12,000 people were reported displaced in 2020, the majority due to gang violence and a cyclone in July.” This is especially bad for Haiti’s government because in order to revive the troubled country, government officials need hardworking individuals to rebuild roads and buildings, but as more and more people leave Haiti, employers have fewer and fewer employees to pay, resulting in an economic disaster.
Covid-19: Lastly, the Covid-19 pandemic worsened the displacement and gang violence in Haiti. According to The New Humanitarian, Haiti has experienced a fourfold increase in weekly Covid-19 deaths but is still awaiting its first vaccine delivery from the international COVAX program, an initiative aimed at providing coronavirus supplies, through ventilation equipment and vaccines, to underdeveloped countries. This resulted in more gang violence, as law-abiding citizens were forced to commit gang-affiliated crimes due to the decreased employment in the country. In fact, civilians suggest that the reason for the inefficient vaccine delivery is gang violence. Dr. Marc Edson Augustin, the medical director of the St. Luke’s nonprofit hospital in Port-Au-Prince, says, “we sell three to four times a day on trucks. And right now with the gang violence, we cannot get to that area to get the necessary oxygen that we would need.”
3: What Does the Assassination of the Haitian President Result in?
On Wednesday, July 7th, President Moise was shot 16 times. Haitian officials allege that a group of “professional killers” broke into the president’s home near Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital. Haitian civilians, already troubled due to gang violence have to endure yet another challenge, as gangs have found a new opportunity to wreak more havoc: the uncertainty of who is in charge. Currently, Prime Minister Clause Joseph assumed leadership; however, the situation is much more complicated than this. Two days before President Moise was assassinated, he declared Ariel Henry the new Prime Minister of Haiti. Henry was meant to be sworn in this past week, but before he was sworn in, Prime Minister Joseph assumed power. Currently, more and more news is leaking out, as reporters and investigators from around the world flood into Haiti to answer the lingering questions left behind after the assassination.