Residents in numerous neighborhoods across the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area have been
through hell the last two days, though life has not been that peaceful and easy in the past few
months if not years. Scenes across the city have looked like a war zone with people fleeing for
their lives, with their belongings in tow, as gangs battle for turf control and gunfire ringing across
the city, especially in the eastern part of the capital where tensions are high and high calibre guns
pierce the air at deafening rates in Débussy, Turgeau, Pacot and Canapé Vert neighborhoods. The
images are surreal; people carrying their children and personal belongings wandering the empty
streets, dazed with no particular destination in mind amid an atmosphere of general paralysis of
activities. One cannot blame them as the gangs have not made things easier for them as dozens of
these armed individuals broke into certain residences to rob and kidnap occupants, while those
still staying there fear much more volatility in terms of security and are forced to confine
themselves to their homes, sometimes without a supply of basic necessities.
Public exasperation and anger have led to a horrific vigilante justice this weekend as a mob beat
and burned 13 suspected gang members to death after they were pulled from a minivan
transporting them that was stopped by the police for inspection. According to eyewitness, the
police stopped the minivan for a traffic stop and people pulled the men from the police and set
fire to them, using gasoline-soaked tires to lynch them. Six more burned bodies laid in a nearby
neighborhood later Monday, and some witnesses said that police killed them, and residents set
them on fire, but the national police said in a brief statement that officers in the city’s Canape
Vert section stopped and searched a minibus for smuggled goods early Monday and had
confiscated weapons from suspects before they were “unfortunately lynched by members of the
population.” The statement did not elaborate on how members of the crowd were able to take
control of the suspects. But locals suspect that the lynched suspected gang members were part of
the Kraze Barye gang, which is led by Vitel’Homme Innocent, who is accused of helping kidnap
the 17 US missionaries in October 2021 and is also linked to the assassination of President
Jovenel Moïse. The police have also confirmed the death, of gang leader Carlo Petit-Homme,
known as “Ti Makak”, based in Laboule, in the heights of Pétionville where police operations
take place but no information on the circumstances of his death has been made available.
Thus, between Friday April 14 and Wednesday, April 19, 2023, about 70 people, including two
babies and 18 women have been killed and more than forty others wounded by gunshot wounds
as a result of gang violence among rival gangs in Cité Soleil, particularly in the Brooklyn
neighborhood, according to reports from the UN office of humanitarian affairs in the country.
Residents of these neighborhoods have been held hostage to the violence in their neighborhood,
where schools and healthcare facilities have closed causing what is shaping up to be another
humanitarian crisis looming if something is not done soon enough, according to the OCHA
representative, Ulrika Richardson.
The UN chief urged the immediate deployment of an international armed force to stem the
escalating gang violence and the country’s worst human rights crisis in decades, warning in a
new report that insecurity in the capital “has reached levels comparable to countries in armed
conflict.” Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued an urgent appeal for a specialized armed
force to stop the crisis in the country last October at the request of Prime Minister Ariel Henry
and the country’s Council of Ministers, but at a U.N. Security Council meeting in January neither
the United States, which has been criticized for previous interventions in Haiti, nor Canada
showed any interest in leading such a force, and there are no signs that opposition has changed.
The international community has instead opted to impose sanctions and send military equipment
and other resources. But the Secretary General reiterated in a report to the Security Council on
Monday that deploying an international force remains “crucial” to help Haitian authorities curb
the violence and rights abuses, restore the rule of law, and create conditions for the holding of
national elections. The council is scheduled to discuss the report tomorrow.
In a tweet, interim Prime Minister Ariel Henry applauded the job of the national police, tweeting
that his government expresses its sympathy to the police officers injured in recent operations,
while applauding the considerable and meritorious efforts of the National Police to restore order
and peace in our cities and neighborhoods, adding that there is still a lot to do. Residents of
Petionville took to the streets to protest gang violence and applaud the efforts of the police to
bring in law and order.
Finally, in honor of international Diaspora day, April 20 th , Haitians living in the United States,
Canada, Chile and Brazil made the trip to celebrate this day in Cap Haïtien. The day was very
festive with culture on display through slams, songs, and dances. The folklore was very present
in the cultural part of the celebrations on a stand erected at the Fort placed at the edge of the sea.
Representatives of the Haitian Diaspora Organization, the former Minister of Culture, Mrs.
Marina Gourgue and Mrs. Marie Andrée Bélabre responded to the invitation. Ms. Bélabre, in her
speech praised the constant presence of the Haitian Diaspora in the life of the country. The event
organized under the theme “Loin d’Haïti, proche de son combat” was meant to highlight the
economic contribution of the Diaspora to the very existence of the nation. The Minister of
Tourism, Luz Kurta Cassandra François, thanked the Diaspora for their support for developing
tourism in the country, through such activities as Dîner en Blanc, Fashion Week, and Spring
Break among others.