Kathryn Baron | Genocide Watch
Haiti is in a cascading political, economic, and social crisis. It is a nation heavily dependent on foreign aid. More than three-quarters of the population lives below the poverty line. The country has experienced decades of political turmoil and has regularly suffered from devastating earthquakes and hurricanes.
Haiti is still recovering from a 7.2 magnitude earthquake that rocked the country in August 2021, and from the 2010 earthquake that killed over 200,000 people. Before Haiti could recover from these earlier disasters, a 5.3 magnitude earthquake struck in early 2022. Rampant government corruption has sabotaged any chance of recovery.
Major parts of Port-au-Prince are controlled by nine powerful gangs (“G9”) that compete over resources and territory. They operate with no regard for law, often in collusion with government officials. Their leaders are quasi-warlords and control 60% of the country. In areas they control, gangs traffic drugs, murder, rape, kidnap for ransom, and terrorize people with impunity.
In 2019, evidence surfaced that much foreign aid for infrastructure and healthcare had been embezzled by three successive administrations. These revelations prompted civil unrest against the government. Demonstrations persisted throughout 2020 and 2021 against the government of Jovenel Moïse.
In July 2021, President Moïse was assassinated, plummeting Haiti into political turmoil. Currently, there is no sitting parliament due to delayed elections. Prime Minister Ariel Henry assumed office after Moïse’s assassination. In September, Haiti’s Chief Prosecutor claimed Henry was in close communication with the key suspects in the Moïse assassination. He asked the Justice Minister to indict Henry. Henry immediately fired both the Chief Prosecutor and the Justice Minister.
Hundreds of thousands of Haitians, including much of Haiti’s educated medical and professional elite, have left the country to escape Haiti’s political instability, gang violence, and lack of access to essential services such as clean water, food, and education. Remittances from the Haitian diaspora contribute nearly a quarter of Haiti’s annual GDP.
Due to unchecked gang rule, violent repression of peaceful protests for political reform, and assassinations of politicians and officials who challenge corruption, Genocide Watch classifies Haiti as being at Stage 5: Organization and Stage 6: Polarization.
Genocide Watch recommends:
• The U.S. and other nations should withdraw their support for the illegitimate Henry government.
• The U.S., OAS, and U.N. should re-establish a UN peacekeeping mission like the Brazil-led mission that departed in 2017.
• The U.N. peacekeeping mission should conduct elections for a transitional government.
• The U.N. peacekeeping mission should arrest and prosecute gang leaders and other criminals.
© Genocide Watch 2022