Haitian gangs make demands to test government power


SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — A rivalry between a powerful gang coalition and the Haitian government has pushed both sides to further derail a paralyzed country where millions of people struggle to find fuel and water. We are testing how much power is exerted and threatened.

The ex-policeman, who heads a gang alliance known as “G9 and Family”, proposed his own plans for Haiti’s future and even sought a seat in the cabinet, but pardoned the government of Prime Minister Ariel Henry. , demanded that the arrest warrant be revoked. Member of the group, a request so far unanswered.

In mid-September, the gang surrounded a major fuel terminal, demanding Henry’s resignation and protesting rising oil prices after the prime minister announced his government could no longer afford to subsidize fuel.

The move, joined by thousands of protesters who have blocked the streets of the capital Port-au-Prince and other major cities, has created a severe supply shortage, forcing hospitals to cut back on services and gas stations to close. , banks and grocery stores were forced to restrict. time.

In a recent video posted to Facebook, G9 and Family leader Jimmy Cheridier, nicknamed “Barbecue”, formed a “Council of Wise Men” with one representative from each of Haiti’s ten representatives. I have read the proposed plan to stabilize Haiti, including the creation of a Department.

The gang is also demanding a position in Henry’s cabinet, the director of Haiti’s National Commission for Disarmament, Disarmament and Rehabilitation told radio station Magic 9 on Thursday.

Robert Fatton, a Haitian political expert at the University of Virginia, said of the gang’s demands, “It’s both a sign of their power and a sign they fear what’s to come.

Henry and 18 members of his cabinet almost a week ago called for the deployment of foreign troops to quell the violence and end the fuel blockade.

The gangs that overwhelmed the understaffed and understaffed police stations were likely wary of the possible deployment of specialized armed forces, Faton said.

“They are trying to get the best possible deal with some edge,” he said.

Gang demands are nothing new in Haiti and have grown stronger since the assassination of President Jovenel Moise in July 2021.

But such threats have been quickly quelled in the past with the help of UN peacekeepers, Faton said.

In the aftermath of a rebellion that ousted former Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, then-president René Preval ordered gangsters to lay down their weapons. He did it peacefully at first, but soon threatened them with no results.

“They were told, ‘Disarm or you’ll die,'” Faton said. “Some gangs accepted the solution, others were destroyed.”

He said special forces used drones to infiltrate slums long ruled by gangs.

But gangs have played a major political role before. One gang leader helped start a rebellion to remove Aristide, who refused to resign before his term expired in 2006. After his brother, who was also a gang leader, was murdered in 2003,

Fatton added that Chelisier’s request to be granted a gang coalition cabinet position was “a ludicrous proposition”, but that an amnesty that included giving up arms might be the solution.

“The government saved face and the gangs said ‘we achieved what we wanted’ and compromised,” he said.

But the government, which has been trying to arrest Chelisier for charges including organizing one of the worst massacres in the country where dozens of men, women and children were killed, refuses a request to have the arrest warrant nullified. Probability is high.

Haitian officials have warned the international community that the situation is dire, saying limited access to water and other basic commodities could exacerbate recent cholera outbreaks. I’m here.

Nearly 100,000 children under the age of five already suffer from severe acute malnutrition and are vulnerable to cholera, UNICEF warned on Friday. “Haiti’s crisis is increasingly a crisis for children.”

The situation is becoming critical for women as well. The United Nations Population Fund said on Friday that 30,000 pregnant women were at risk because about three-quarters of Haiti’s hospitals could not serve due to lack of fuel.

Additionally, gangsters are increasingly raping women, girls, boys and, to some extent, men in order to control and maintain territory, according to a UN human rights report released on Friday.

Helen La Rime, a senior UN official in Haiti, told a news conference that human rights violations, including rape and sexual assault, have reached alarming levels.

“Victim testimony is absolutely terrifying,” she said. “This should stop”

Arnaud-Gustave Royer of the United Nations High Commission said a woman was raped by armed men for hours in front of her four children after watching gangsters execute her husband.

“Rape becomes a weapon and a tactic of gangsters,” he said, adding that the acts committed are extremely violent and are committed in front of the family to humiliate the victim.

Gangs that control an estimated 60% of Port-au-Prince rape older women as well as children as young as 10, according to a United Nations report.

In one case, a 12-year-old boy was raped by five people. The five were just minutes before he raped his sister during a gang clash that occurred in April. On his head, lying on a pile of garbage in an abandoned area.