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Haiti crisis worsens as gangs run amok

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Violent gangs stormed the National Palace on Sunday and set fire to part of the Interior Ministry with petrol bombs.

That attack followed a series of attacks on the international airport, which was closed to all flights, including the flight of Prime Minister Ariel Henry.

Last week, he tried to return to Haiti from the United States, but his plane was refused permission to land.

Later, he was also deported from the neighboring Dominican Republic. Mr. Henry is now stuck in Puerto Rico, unable to set foot in the country he is supposed to lead.

Among the people who managed to enter the affected Caribbean country was also a group of American military personnel.

Following a request from the US State Department, the Pentagon confirmed that it had taken steps to “enhance security” at the US embassy in Port-au-Prince.

Soon, the German ambassador and some EU diplomats followed suit, fleeing a violence-torn country facing its worst humanitarian crisis since the 2010 earthquake.

However, millions of Haitians do not have that luxury. No matter how bad things get, they get stuck.

The situation at the State University of Haiti Hospital, known as the General Hospital in downtown Port-au-Prince, is critical.

There was no sign of the medical staff. A corpse, covered with a sheet and swarming with flies, lies on a bed next to sick people who wait in vain for treatment.

Despite the stench, no one came to take the body away. Decomposes quickly in the heat of the Caribbean Sea.

The situation in the General Hospital of Port-au-Prince is critical.
“There are no doctors, they all ran away last week,” said Philip, a patient who did not want to give his real name. We can’t go out, we hear explosions and shootings. So we have to be brave and stay here, we can’t go anywhere.

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With no prime minister and chaos in the government, the gangs have almost complete control of the capital.

They control more than 80 percent of Port-au-Prince, and the country’s most notorious gang boss, Jimmy “Barbecue” Searcy, has again called on the prime minister to resign. “If Ariel Henry does not remain and the international community continues to support him,” they will lead us directly to the civil war, and this will end genocide. It

Meanwhile police, absent and depressed, have difficulty keeping the gangs in the Persian Gulf.

In a nearby market, many street vendors told reporters they had no choice but to leave their homes, even as armed men roamed the streets.

Jocelyn, a market vendor who did not want to give her real name, said: “I have three children and I am their mother and father. That’s why I have to come to the street. Armed men came here yesterday and stole all our money. Many sellers lost money. But when there are three pieces, I won’t go home.”

“Anxiety kills me when I’m out,” says the old fruit seller. “I think what if I get shot and killed? So who will take care of my children? “I have no family to support me.”

To the west, in Jamaica, one of Haiti’s closest neighbors, officials, diplomats and heads of state of the CARICOM regional group are gathering for an urgent meeting.

The instability in Haiti is a problem for the entire Caribbean community and for Washington.

The idea that a country of about 11 million people is run by gangs is deeply troubling, especially given the potential impact on foreign migration in an election year in the United States.

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It is understood that Caricom is in favor of the immediate resignation of Mr. Henry, if necessary from abroad.

In the United States, the Biden administration has said publicly that the prime minister-elect, who promised an election in February, must return to Haiti, but only to resign and take over a new government. However, American diplomats now know privately that his return is unlikely and that even trying could further destabilize Haiti.
A UN-backed plan to create a rapid response force led by Kenya to fight the gangs has yet to be implemented.

About 4,000 inmates escaped after a mob illegally stormed Port-au-Prince’s main prison a week earlier.

Now those prisoners are back on the streets, strengthening the ranks of their gangs.


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