Gang Violence in Haiti Leads to Prime Minister’s Resignation

Posted by on Mar 20, 2024 in Stuff You Should Know, World

The country of Haiti is in a state of turmoil. Haiti’s acting prime minister, Ariel Henry, has been searching for solutions to his nation’s many problems. These include a cholera outbreak and increasing gang violence. In early March 2024, Henry visited the African country of Kenya to discuss military aid to help police Haiti. However, Henry could not return from this meeting because of gang attacks at Haiti’s main airport. This has left him stranded on the island of Puerto Rico, unable to return.  

Ariel Henry Resigns 

Henry has been the prime minister of Haiti since 2021. He was not elected to this position.  He assumed the role after the assassination of former prime minister Jovenel Moïse. Henry pledged support for new elections in 2023. However, he failed to deliver on this promise, citing security concerns. This failure to hold promised elections has contributed to instability in Haiti. 

Henry has declared his resignation and the formation of a transitional council to oversee a peaceful transition of power. The Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) has supported Henry’s move. CARICOM emphasizes the need for Haiti to be governed by the rule of law. The United States too has pledged financial aid and support for the Kenyan-led security mission to restore order in Haiti.  

Gang Violence in Haiti 

Yet the situation remains dire. Gangs control almost 80 percent of the capital, Port-au-Prince. Recently, these gangs attacked the largest prison in the city, resulting in a massive jailbreak. Gang leader Jimmy “Barbecue” Chérizier claimed responsibility for the attack, stating it was aimed at overthrowing the government. Chérizier’s gang also besieged Port-au-Prince’s main airport, leading to Henry’s inability to return from Kenya. 

Wide view of a city intersection showing run-down buildings, old cars and people walking on the sidewalks and street in Haiti.
Haiti’s living and governing conditions are unpredictable.

Gang violence has forced thousands to flee their homes, compounding the already deadly situation in a country plagued by chronic violence, political instability, pandemic illnesses, and natural disasters. In some areas, more than 40 percent of recent deaths have been caused by gang violence. The Haitian healthcare system is on the brink of collapse. Hospitals struggle to cope amid shortages of essential supplies and personnel. 

A Looming Refugee Crisis 

Ordinary Haitians are in considerable danger. Many are trying to choose between staying in a country filled with violence or risking their lives to seek refuge elsewhere. Nearby nations, such as the United States and the Bahamas, have expressed concerns about mass migrations from Haiti. The Bahamas have established a naval blockade to prevent the arrival of refugees. 

The United Nations has called for urgent international intervention to protect civilians and assist the Haitian police in restoring order. However, the road to stability remains uncertain. Henry’s resignation leaves a power vacuum, and the threat of further violence looms large. 

Dig Deeper  Research the history of Haiti from 1974 to the present. Consider decisions made by leaders, natural disasters, or other issues impacting life in Haiti. Which factors do you conclude have created the deepest problems? What can Haiti do as a nation? What kind of aid can be contributed by the international community? Try to explain your ideas clearly and use reasons or examples to support what you think could help.