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EDITORIAL: Haiti on the brink of being a failed state

THE telephone at The Tribune has been buzzing this week with readers wanting to discuss one topic more than any other – Haiti.

Things were already bad in Haiti prior to this week, but now they have gone from bad to worse.

The police force in the country was struggling to keep any kind of order – and that was before armed gang members stormed two of the nation’s biggest prisons at the weekend.

An estimated 4,000 inmates fled during a jailbreak from the National Penitentiary which came under siege on Saturday night.

A second prison with 1,400 inmates was also overrun.

In the first prison, a few dozen prisoners chose to stay. Among them were 18 former Colombian soldiers accused of working as mercenaries as part of the assassination of then Haitian President Jovenel Moise in July 2021. One of those men, Francisco Uribe, told journalists who entered the prison after the breakout: “I didn’t flee because I’m innocent.”

What capacity an overwhelmed police force will have to track down and lock up more than 5,000 prisoners is very doubtful.

The gangs didn’t stop there. Some went on to try to seize control of the Toussaint L’Ouverture International Airport on Monday.

What action is Haiti taking? A curfew was ordered after the prison break. What notice have the gangs taken of that? The attack on the airport came after the curfew announcement.

And now, Haiti’s Prime Minister, Ariel Henry, could not even land back in the country.

On Friday, he had been in Kenya in an effort to secure a promised multinational security force that would have come to Haiti to try to tackle the gangs and restore order. Kenya had promised 1,000 police officers to lead the mission – but had been halted in the courts over whether it was constitutional for police to be deployed outside the Kenyan border.

Mr Henry landed in Puerto Rico last night. He had been headed for the Dominican Republic, but flight tracking data showed his plane circled mid-flight before heading for Puerto Rico instead.

Shortly before he arrived there, the Dominican government announced it was stopping all air traffic with Haiti.

The Prime Minister cannot even get back in the country while it burns.

One of the gang leaders in Haiti, Jimmy Cherizier, who goes by the name of Barbecue, said he is seeking to block Mr Henry’s return and force his resignation. Barbecue leads a coalition of gangs that has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Where does Haiti stand now? Flights are being stopped. Schools are closed. Banks are closed. Public transport is at a halt.

Gangs have attacked prisons, the airport, the central bank, the national soccer stadium.

The prisoners who were released included many who were in jail for murder or kidnapping – both of which have been a scourge for our neighbour. Last year, more than 8,400 people were reported killed, injured or kidnapped, more than double the number the previous year.

Mr Henry faces a struggle to get back into the country, but even if he does, he may face a struggle to be recognised as the leader.

His promise of elections would not see them come to fruition until 2025 – the chances of him still being in charge then seem slim at best.

Amid all this, there remains the Bahamian promise to send troops to Haiti. Already there was uncertainty over what our role would be, over what would count as a success, and of what our strategy would be to get out. And that was before this latest wave of chaos.

If not before, then Haiti is surely now on the precipice of being a failed state. The consequences of that lie not just within its borders but for its neighbours, ourselves included. We must anticipate increased migration, both from people trying to survive and, sadly, from some of those escaped killers seeking to evade any risk of being sent back to jail.

To send our troops into that bonfire while there is no coherent leadership in the country is a recipe for the worst possible outcome. We are sure they would do their best, but on whose behalf will they be intervening?

Haiti was a crisis before, it is a disaster now, and it needs to be the top priority throughout the region.

Some problems have obvious solutions that can be carried out to make things better. Haiti has no such obvious solutions. A solution cannot just be imposed from outside, but we lack formal leadership in Haiti to support in their own solutions.

Where do we go from here? The scale of intervention required seems almost impossible. The consequences of not finding a solution are unthinkable. That is a Gordian Knot which must be resolved.

Comments

birdiestrachan 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Haiti may have promise but they fight against each other too much they are always at war with each other I never supported Bahamian defence forces going into Haiti 150 against thousands make no sense PM Henery can not go home what Country will accept him.

CaptainCoon 4 months, 2 weeks ago

It IS a failed state.

NEXT!

bobby2 4 months, 2 weeks ago

This is already a failed state. Use bomb Drones to spefically target gang areas.

SP 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Please stop worrying about offending someone and stick with the facts. The truth is rarely easy to accept, however, truth dispels bullshyt regardless of how deep!

Oxford definition of a failed state: A state in which one or more of the fundamental conditions of sovereign government are absent.

According to Oxford, Haiti has been a failed state for years!

Anarchy now rules Haiti.

sheeprunner12 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Yep ............ and 242 is heading down the same road, despite the political facade

ted4bz 4 months, 2 weeks ago

No part of this is coincident, this catastrophe is another master plan. Very few powers are capable and able at pulling off such massive drama, one right after the next. As long as western colonial empires and their rules based international order (more like disorder) continue to intervene everywhere, every country will become a failed state, eventually. And, somehow, a handful of citizens will always benefit from the failure. Sure, the ones who helped them do it.

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