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From Port-aux-Prince to Africa: Unveiling the Haitian Crisis


In recent past weeks, the situation in Haiti has drawn international attention due to reports of escalating violence. Various media outlets have brought to light the alarming uprising of gangs, some allegedly engaging in cannibalistic practices, marking a dire phase in the nation’s ongoing crisis.

The narrative of cannibal gangs ruling Haiti is as shocking as it is misleading, drawing attention away from the complex socio-political dynamics at play. Haiti’s turmoil cannot be isolated from the global context; it shares the same root causes with conflicts in the Sahel region, the DRC, and around the Global South. At the heart of these crises is a consistent theme of external manipulation and internal strife, orchestrated by a cadre of global powers and local puppeteers.

This situation raises a broader question about global attention to conflicts. While incidents in regions like the Sahel region or the Democratic Republic of Congo might pique interest with limited concern, and events in Gaza deeply move us, the crisis in Haiti often remains underrepresented in global discourse. Yet, the underlying issues—war, instability, and dehumanization—are universally common, underscoring the need for a unified human response to global crises.

The political backdrop in Haiti has been equally tumultuous. Ariel Henry, Haiti’s unelected Prime Minister, recently visited Kenya to meet with President William Ruto. Their discussions culminated in agreements potentially leading to the deployment of Kenyan troops in Haiti under the guise of peacekeeping, supported by the UN but perceived by the majority of Haitians on the street as a foreign occupation influenced by the United States, Canada, and France. This scenario mirrors the interventions and manipulations that have historically aimed to undermine Haiti’s sovereignty.

Amidst this political maneuvering, Haiti has witnessed severe internal turmoil. The Gangs violence have escalated their control by attacking police stations, blockading the airport, and orchestrating a massive prison break, freeing nearly 4,000 inmates—many of whom are believed to be gang affiliates. This surge in violence is not merely a rebellion against Ariel Henry’s government but reflects deeper manipulations involving international actors, primarily the “holy triad” of the USA, Canada, and France, according to critics.

Central to the crisis is the G9 family and allies, a coalition of gangs led by Jimmy Cerisier, known as Barbecue, a former police officer turned gang leader. The coalition’s formation and operations have allegedly been influenced by international interventions, particularly by the Core Group and  representatives from the United Nations especially the American diplomat, Ellen Lalime, who led the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti until March 2023 and played the role of secret and privileged advisor to Late President Jovenel Moïse. The Core group, established by a UN Security Council resolution in 2004, aims to advise on resolving Haiti’s crises but has faced criticism for its role in supporting controversial political figures and interfering in Haiti’s governance.

The crisis in Haiti is further complicated by another gang coalition, Gppep, which includes individuals like Vitelhomme Innocent, now on the FBI’s most-wanted list for his alleged involvement in high-profile crimes. Amid these challenges, Haiti’s political landscape remains bleak, with no functioning parliament, senate, or president following the assassination of Jovenel Moïse in July 2021, always in rather mysterious circumstances.

Today marks a significant shift in Haiti’s political landscape as Ariel Henry, having served the interests of both external and internal forces, has stepped down and sought exile in Puerto Rico. In a strategic move to phase him out, the notorious figure known as Mr. Barbecue was mobilized, setting the stage for the introduction of a new political figure poised to perpetuate Haiti’s cycle of subservience.

Speculation points towards Guy Philippe, a former police chief with training from US special forces, renowned for his role in the 2004 coup against President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Having returned to Haiti in December 2023 after serving time in the United States for drug trafficking—a charge he admitted to—Philippe now seemingly enjoys the support of a paramilitary group.

This scenario is not unique to Haiti; there are precedents of the United States positioning former narcotics traffickers in leadership roles within foreign governments. A notable example is Bola Tinubu, Current President of Nigeria, who, in 1993, was implicated in a heroin trafficking case in Chicago and agreed to forfeit $460,000 to the US government.

The influence exerted in Haiti is marked by a series of calculated tactics by foreign influencers. Initially, this includes positioning compliant leaders such as Ariel Henry, Jovenel Moïse, Michel Martelly, and Gérard Latortue in power. Following this, Western powers financially support intellectuals or local organizations to shape civil society. Additionally, the introduction of insurgents, militants, or criminal gangs serves to disrupt the state’s stability and instill fear among citizens. Compromising the effectiveness of national defense and security through inadequate training, resources, or their total absence is another strategy used. Furthermore, international military presence, often disguised as UN peacekeeping operations similar to those in the Democratic Republic of Congo, plays a role. The efforts also see the involvement of neighboring countries in these destabilization activities. Moreover, the region’s community appears more aligned with Western interests than those of its own states and citizens. The manipulation of debt and aid as tools of pressure, the dissemination of propaganda and misleading information, and the utilization of global institutions like the UN and the Security Council to enforce a guardianship system over these nations, all underpin this approach, with solid Western backing.

In contrast to Jovenel Moïse, who was tragically assassinated on July 21, 2021, the ousting of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004 was orchestrated by what can be termed the “triad” Washington, Paris, and Ottawa. Aristide’s demand for over €20 billion in restitution from France—distinct from reparations—posed a financial and moral challenge to France, with Canada and the US lending their support to ensure Aristide’s removal. This action was aimed at sidestepping the restitution claim and reinforcing their moral standing while ensuring Haiti’s adherence to IMF and World Bank guidelines. Such measures perpetuated a cycle of dependency on Western aid, cementing Haiti’s status as “the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere” and allowing the West and its local Haitian elite allies to showcase their philanthropy on their terms.

Similarly, in the Sahel region, the same  “triad” have sponsored armed groups that destabilize countries like Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger. In Haiti, figures like Barbecue and his G9 gangs play a comparable role. France’s long-standing defense and military agreements have left African armies disarmed, disorganized, and under-equipped, contributing to regional instability.

Neighboring states often play roles in destabilizing efforts; Chad impacts the Central African Republic, Rwanda affects the DRC, and the Dominican Republic acts as a sanctuary and conduit for arms trafficking to Haitian gangs.

Regional organizations like CARICOM in the Caribbean and the Organization of American States, akin to ECOWAS in West Africa and the African Union, have played dubious roles, similar to the UN missions deployed in Haiti (MINUSTAH) and other regions (MONUSCO, MINUSMA, Operation Serval, etc.). While ostensibly for peacekeeping, these missions often contribute to destabilization, violence, and resource plundering.

The international community’s actions in Haiti and elsewhere are not driven by benevolence but by a desire to maintain control, driven by historical grievances, resource covetousness, and a reluctance to make reparations for past injustices. Haiti’s significance as the world’s first black republic and its potential wealth in resources like iridium and shared geological features with the resource-rich Dominican Republic underscore the exploitative interests at play.

The recurring pattern of foreign intervention in Haiti has never been about aiding Haitians but about exploitation, maintaining dominance, and hindering the nation’s prosperity and stability. The skepticism towards foreign assistance, like the proposed Kenyan police force, stems from a history of corruption and abuse.

True assistance to Haiti would empower its police force to combat crime and allow Haitians to determine their future without external meddling. It would also involve repatriating the wealth extracted from Haiti, acknowledging the profound impacts of historical and recent calamities, including the devastating 2010 earthquake.

Amid these challenges, Haiti’s resilience and commitment to principles of liberty, equality, and dignity endure. The path to recovery requires unity, transcending political and ideological divides, and a genuine understanding and support from the global community. Haiti’s struggle for stability and dignity deserves more than the disdain often shown by mainstream media, highlighting the need for a deeper exploration of the root causes behind its turmoil and a concerted effort to support its journey towards recovery, healing,  and autonomy.


Raïs Neza Boneza is the author of fiction as well as non-fiction, poetry books and articles. He was born in the Katanga province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (Former Zaïre). He is also an activist and peace practitioner. Raïs is convener of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment for Central and African Great Lakes and uses his work to promote artistic expressions as a means to deal with conflicts and maintaining mental wellbeing, spiritual growth and healing. He has travelled extensively in Africa and around the world as a lecturer, educator and consultant for various NGOs and institutions. His work is premised on art, healing, solidarity, peace, conflict transformation and human dignity issues. Raïs work also as freelance journalist based in Trondheim, Norway. You can reach him at rais.boneza@gmail.com

Tags: AfricaAnti-hegemonyAnti-imperialismCentral AmericaColonialismConflictEUGlobal SouthHaitiLatin America CaribbeanUSA

This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 25 Mar 2024.