By Raymond Alcide Joseph
It all started Tuesday, June 1st, when rival gangs began fighting in Fontamara and Martissant, suburbs south of Port-au-Prince center city, bringing traffic on National Route #2 to a standstill for a full week. That the officials were absent until Sunday, June 6, tells of a breakdown in authority to the benefit of the gangs. From the President to the Prime Minister and the General Director of the Police, all were absent.
It’s not quite clear what is behind the outbreak of hostilities between the gang Ti Bwa (Small Stick) in Fontamara, and Krisla (The Christ) in Grand Ravine, part of Martissant. But the fact that Jimmy Chérizier, alias Bar – e cue, head of the “Federated Gangs” of the G-9 Family and Al lies, dispatched reinforcements to help Krisla, tells of government involvement. For, Barbecue is an ally of the regime. Interestingly, it was unmasked bandits from Krisla who had invaded the Adventist Church at Diquini, near Fontamara, on April 1st, to kid nap the pastor at the pulpit, together with the choirmaster and two others, in a spectacular demonstration of gang power and impunity. The officials had not said a word at the time.
In a show of their power, at Martissant, the gangs blocked all vehicles, including those loaded with produce en route to Port-auPrince. People were searched and robbed of money and cellphones. Any passers-by have to put both arms in the air, as if pleading for mercy. Imagine the chaos of traffic being stopped at Martissant from four departments —South, Southeast, Nippes and Grand’ – Anse in the far southwestern tip of the island—as well as from three cities in the Western department –Léogâne, Grand Goâve and Petit-Goâve, All must transit through Martissant to reach the capital.
What is more disturbing is the height of irresponsibility of the so-called authorities. Not a word of comfort from the President or the Prime Minister. And the Chief of Police didn’t dispatch any of the elite units of the Haitian National Police (French acronym HPN) to face the heavily-armed bandits. Forget the resurrected Armed Forces with fewer than 1,000 recruits. That no official, not even the Minister of Justice and Public Safety, appeared on TV, or went on radio, to say something about what was happening, left people wondering about an accord between those in government and the bandits.
On Sunday, June 6, interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph, who chairs the Police Board (CSPN) and PNH Director General Leon Charles finally made it to the Fontamara-Martissant front. However, it’s said that the officials had to disburse 10 million gourdes, or about $107,000.00, at current exchange rate, to the leadership of the bandits. Following his quick visit, the Prime Minister, with an air of satisfaction, told the press he had visited the area “to see for myself that the Police has brought order to the situation.” As of Monday, June 7, my contacts from Fontamara said they had not returned home yet, given that the bandits are still around.
Expanding bandit operations, Police posts attacked in northern part of Port-au-Prince
Saturday evening, June 5, in coordinated attacks, heavily armed bandits simultaneously hit four Police posts in the vicinity of Cité Soleil, the most important being Drouillard, as well as Duvivier, Sierra 2, and the Gonaïves station. The Police inspector Adolphe Mirabel, at Drouillard, was killed and one policeman was wounded in the thigh.
In a preliminary Police report made public, “more 20 Police guns, including a T65 and other materials were taken by the criminals, who had disarmed all the policemen.” They also took communications equipment and other stuff while dismantling two communications networks at the Drouillard station. Then, on Sunday morning, a police post at the St. Joseph, at the northern entrance to the capital, came under attack. Three policemen there were killed and their bodies burnt.
Undoubtedly, the gangs, with some official support, may be attempting a coup against the Police in general, so that one of their own, the infamous Barbecue may assume the leadership of the Police that will incorporate the gangs in the corps. Not unlike the Tontons-Macoute of François “Papa Doc” Duvalier, who eventually eclipsed the regular army, these modern-day bandits will eventually overwhelmed the Police. As is known, the TontonsMacoute carried out the dictator’s repression, amounting to more than 30,000 dead and many more thousands of refugees forming today’s Haitian worldwide diaspora.
This is not far-fetched when one considers Jovenel Moïse’s intention to have a new constitution unconstitutionally approved in a referendum which was scheduled for June 27. In that constitution, power will be concentrated in the presidency, who enjoys impunity for wrongdoings during his time in office. As of last Friday, June 4, Guylande Mé sadieu, president of the unconstitutional Provisional Electoral Council entrusted with overseeing the referendum, said, “there could be delay with the referendum and the elections, due to a resurgence of Covid-19” in Haiti. Interestingly, nature seems to be joining forces with the majority of the Haitian population denouncing the referendum.
It is in that context that a diplomatic commission from the Organization of American States (OAS) arrived in Port-au-Prince yesterday (Tuesday May 8), in a move to bring an end to the multi-dimensional crisis that has been festering for too long. The international community bears much responsibility for what’s happening in Haiti now. Because for unknown reasons, the bigwigs of the Western world have maintained their support of Jovenel Moïse despite his massacres of citizens in various shantytowns and other shocking murders like that of Monferrier Dorval, president of the Port-au-Prince Bar Association. Forget his financial shenanigans with State funds, as denounced by the State Accounting Auditors, as if unbridled corruption is a virtue. Besides, there’s also his checkered past, having been sworn into office under an indictment for money laundering.
Thus, most of those in the opposition in Haiti and outside, suspicious of the OAS that has been like a babysitter for the Haitian de facto president, assert that the only thing that should be negotiated is the when and how Jovenel Moïse will be ushered out of office.