A disastrous earthquake hit Haiti in 2010, leaving the country in deep distress. Reconstruction failed to address the systemic problems underlying its extreme socio-economic inequality and endemic political and gang violence. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021 and a bout of natural disasters soon thereafter, Haiti’s humanitarian plight has gone from bad to worse. Crisis Group aims to shed light on the sources of Haiti’s strife and supports core reforms to the security sector and state that could pave the way for credible elections, improved security and clean government.
Increasingly deadly turf wars between rival gang coalitions have revealed the depth of Haiti’s political morass. In this Q&A, Crisis Group shows how the former and the latter are deeply intertwined.
Protests demanding PM Ariel Henry’s resignation escalated and turned violent amid fuel price hike, forcing services to close; gangs exploited unrest and seized control of major oil terminal.
Anti-govt protests turned violent, forcing public and private services to close down. Protests that started late Aug demanding Henry’s resignation intensified: after govt 14 Sept announced drastic reduction of gasoline subsidies, which prompted sharp rise in prices, anti-govt demonstrations same day broke out and expanded across capital Port-au-Prince and other towns and cities, growing increasingly violent as protesters set fire to vehicles, blocked roads and burned barricades. Businesses, banks, transportation networks and other public services were forced to shut down, while many embassies, including Mexico’s and Dominican Republic’s, 14 Sept shut their borders. Police responded with force, with clashes (which involved gang members among protesters) leaving over ten civilians dead and many more injured. As leaders called for calm, businesses 21 Sept began opening their doors. However, protests and blockades 26 Sept resumed, again paralysing commercial and public activities across major cities. Civil society platform Montana Accord (who have proposed two-year transitional plan that includes five-member presidential college and new PM) 16 Sept said protests were legitimate and urged Haitians to continue taking to streets until formation of legitimate transitional govt.
Gangs exploited unrest, aggravating violence and blocking fuel supplies. G9 gang alliance, of which members 11 Sept murdered two journalists reporting on escalating gang violence in Cité Soleil district of Port-au-Prince, exacerbated unrest. Notably, G9 leader Jimmy “Barbecue” Chérizier was filmed 15 Sept leading protest and demanding Henry’s resignation. Meanwhile, G9 gang members 17 Sept dug trenches around Varreux oil terminal, blocking access to operators, employees and trucks and taking control of 188,000 barrels of fuel; petrol stations across country same day closed and had yet to reopen by end of month.
Fuel blockade further strained country’s public services, notably health sector. Caracol Industrial Park – which employs 13,000 workers – 25 Sept ceased operations due to lack of fuel, affecting electricity services. UN children agency UNICEF 26 Sept said fuel blockade was preventing deliveries needed to power hospitals and risked bringing country’s health services to “a standstill”.
This roundtable examines the causes of violence and instability in Haiti and explores the ways in which Haitians, with the support of the international community, can take actions to overcome the current crisis.
Haiti is reeling from the president’s assassination, a major earthquake and a severe tropical storm. The country needs urgent assistance, and its planned elections can wait. Outside powers should channel aid through local civil society groups, help investigate high-level crimes and support pressing reforms.
The killing of President Jovenel Moïse in murky circumstances has plunged the country into political turmoil. In this Q&A, Crisis Group expert Mariano de Alba explains the state of play and what outside actors should do as they seek to help Haiti achieve stability.
Presentation by Mark L. Schneider, Senior Vice President, International Crisis Group on “Is it time for MINUSTAH to leave Haiti?” at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Washington, DC, 25 July 2013.
Delayed elections, mistrust and public protests against Haitian President Michel Martelly threaten the country’s chance to end decades of political conflict and to recover from the 2010 earthquake. Without a national accord, the country risks ongoing crises. Javier Ciurlizza, Crisis Group Program Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, tells us more on the current challenges Haiti is facing.