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Desperate Haitians suffocate under growing power of gangs | St. Louis News Headlines – St. Louis, Missouri

St. Louis, Missouri 2021-10-21 13:30:00 –

Port-au-Prince, Haiti (AP) —In this video, more than 30 men are quietly lined up in front of a crumbling building. As the man walks between them and wiggles from a small bottle, their heads bow. Someone shouts, “You’ll have trouble with Port-au-Prince!”

Assault weapons are lined up on the wall nearby, and 20 pistols are scattered on the ground. Two large buckets are filled with bullets.

Men appear to be one of Haiti’s most notorious street gangsters, and footage records their guidance into the criminal underground world, which increasingly dominates the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere. The video is adorned with the names “400 Mawozo” and “400 good for nothing”.Both references to gang police say they are responsible for multiple killings and kidnappings, including: Recent kidnapping Of 17 people from a religious group based in the United States.

The footage posted earlier this year is a gritty online boast that shows all the incredible power of Haitian gangsters dominating more lands and committing crimes than ever before. Their tense grip on society threatens the country’s social structure and its fragile and anemic economy.

“The situation is out of control,” said James Boward, a professor of political science at Haiti State University. He, like other experts, accused some politicians and business owners of funding gangs. “They made them too powerful. Now they are in terror. They didn’t know that things would get out of control in their own way.”

Gangs dominate up to 40% of Port-au-Prince. Port-au-Prince is a city of more than 2.8 million gangsters fighting for territory every day. The street that belonged to one group yesterday may belong to a rival group the next day. Two leaders who previously shot each other can form a short alliance against one-third before becoming an enemy again.

There are dozens of gang names, including Krache Difé, Torcel, Baz Pilot, and 5 Secondes, but experts say only about 30 gangs are firmly established in the capital and surrounding areas. The largest and most powerful is believed to be the “G9 Family and Allies” coalition of nine gangsters run by former police officer Jimmy Chelizier.

Gang violence increases or decreases depending on Haiti’s economic condition, its political situation, and at some point the presence of UN peacekeepers.Currently, the country is still spinning since July 7th Murder of President Jovenel Moise Magnitude 7.2 Earthquake that killed more than 2,200 people In August.

These two events have temporarily suspended some gang activities, but kidnappings have skyrocketed in recent weeks. In the first eight months of 2021, at least 328 kidnappings were reported to Haiti’s national police, compared to a total of 234 in 2020, according to a report issued last month by the United Nations Department of Integration in Haiti.

The gang’s growth potential is most pronounced in the Martissant community, which connects Port-au-Prince to the southern part of the country, and is zero for at least three war groups. According to the local Le Nouvelliste, the violence there has reached a very extreme level, with many Haitians making an hour’s detour to avoid the area.

Martissan’s abandoned police station has a hole in the ammunition, and a man with a bare chest covering his face is watching behind the torch car to keep anyone away.

In July, a gang fired at an ambulance and killed a nurse. The following month, the violence by the gangsters forced Doctors Without Borders to close the Martinissan Clinic. Last Saturday, a group of armored police cars tried to cross the area and were shot. The bodies of dead civilians lay on the ground for the rest of the day.

Until recent years, lawn wars were usually between gangsters, and civilians were sometimes involved in gun battles. Then, in November 2018, more than 70 people were killed in La Saline, a seaside slum in Port-au-Prince. The slum is currently managed by the G9 Federation, the leader involved in the slaughter.

“Retaliation began to escalate … so they began chasing civilians,” said the best international officials who were not allowed to speak to the media. “Currently, gang conflicts do not distinguish between gangs and civilians.”

The same is true KidnappingTargeting hot dog vendors, priests, school children, and wealthy business owners For ransom..

Experts believe that much of this activity is caused by extreme poverty in a country where 60% of the population is less than $ 2 a day and millions of people are hungry.

“Gangs are an escape route and probably the only way out of the situation,” said Boyard.

The country’s GDP fell to -3.3% last year. This is the largest decline since the -5.7 decline following the 2010 catastrophic earthquake. In addition, Haiti’s gourde has fallen by more than 50% over the past year and inflation has remained above 10%, declining purchasing power, said Haiti economist Energy Germain.

The situation is comparable to the post-coup period of 1991, when he defeated former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Germain said.

Experts blame Aristide for causing the current gang phenomenon. After returning to power in 1994, he disbanded his army and began arming people in slums. Many influenced the Catholic priesthood.

Some new gangsters start at the age of 6 or 7 and occupy top positions by their late teens. Few people survive until the age of 30. Members often refer to themselves as “soldiers.” An armed man who only calls himself James said he was a mechanic and joined the Bazpilate gang “to protect the ghetto from invading rivals to steal, kill and rape.”

Gangsters also suffocate Haiti’s economy by blocking gas distribution terminals and major transportation routes — movements that prevent goods from flowing through the country. Currently, many gas stations remain closed for several days at a time.

“I live in a chaotic country,” said Delmy Belmon, a 44-year-old manager of home improvement stores. He said children aged 9 and 12 couldn’t go out and play and were old enough to understand what was happening.

“Whenever they’re in the car, they’re looking left and right, and when the motorcycle approaches the car, I can feel them scared,” he said.

Violence is expected to worsen as Haiti prepares for legislation with the president Elections scheduled for next year.. According to the best international officials, political parties have long been known for paying gangsters.

“Any gang is open for negotiations and purchases,” officials said.

There are approximately 9,000 police officers on the streets of Haiti. This is only a small percentage of the number that typically patrols over 11 million countries.

Gangsters outperform the police and have more weapons. Earlier this year, they killed at least four officers and injured several others after a failed anti-gang attack on the slums of Village de Dieu.

A few days later, police marched down the street requesting the return of a colleague’s body. Police officers belong to a disgruntled department called Phantom 509 and have been accused of assaulting prisons to kill people, burn buildings, and release imprisoned companions.

Some Haitian National Police officers are also associated with the gang, according to Mr. Boyard. “They support them and teach them how to move, when to leave and when to enter,” he said.

A Haitian National Police spokesman did not return a message asking for comment.

Meanwhile, Andre Apade, a Haitian businessman who owns a large textile company, didn’t say whether to pay the gang, but said, “Business is a criminal and violent structure to survive. It coexists. “

Gangster activity is an “economic poison” and “without safety, people can’t talk about economic recovery if people are kidnapped every day, freight trucks are hijacked by gangsters every day, and companies can’t be free. Perform the activity. “

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Koto reported from San Juan, Puerto Rico. Associated Press journalists Evens Sanon of Port-au-Prince, Haiti and Chery Dieu-Nalio of New York contributed to this report.



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