Miami Herald (Sunday)

Lack of internatio­nal action allows chaos in Haiti

- BY EDUARDO A. GAMARRA AND JOSUE CLERMONT Eduardo A. Gamarra is professor of politics and internatio­nal relations at Florida Internatio­nal Relations. Josue Clermont, a graduate of FIU, holds an master’s degree in campaign management from George Washington

Haiti has descended into a state of chaos that can no longer be ignored. The internatio­nal community’s failure to effectivel­y address the country’s deteriorat­ing situation has led to a reality where gangs now exercise more control than the government itself.

The idea of Kenyan police interventi­on, once a glimmer of hope, now seems a distant dream. The Haitian authoritie­s’ ineptitude in dealing with this crisis has allowed gangs to extend their influence beyond Port-auPrince, effectivel­y controllin­g key routes to cities like Cap-Haitien and Jeremie.

It is no exaggerati­on to state that gangs rule Haiti. This dire situation is not just a matter of territoria­l control; it signifies a catastroph­ic failure of governance and a humanitari­an crisis that is deepening by the day. In this vacuum of power, we are witnessing the alarming emergence of figures like Guy Philippe, recently deported from the United States, who is now seen by some as a potential savior capable of leading a revolution to liberate Haiti from the clutches of these gangs.

Haiti’s plight is not unique. Both El Salvador and Ecuador have faced gang violence that threatened the very fabric of their nations. However, these countries had resources that Haiti sorely lacks: a robust police force and a military capable of confrontin­g such threats. Haiti, in contrast, stands trapped between three bleak options: waiting for an internatio­nal police force that seems increasing­ly unlikely to arrive; resigning to indefinite rule by gangs; or facing an insurrecti­on led by controvers­ial figures like Philippe.

It is also dishearten­ing that the very individual­s who possess the ability to mobilize support often offer promises of more chaos rather than a path towards stability. The events of Jan. 29 in CapHaitien exemplify this alarming trend.

Former Sen. Moïse Jean Charles, a leader of the radical opposition political party “Pitit Dessalin,” called for a demonstrat­ion that effectivel­y paralyzed the city’s economic activities, with demands for the resignatio­n of Prime Minister Henry. This action resulted in the closure of schools, businesses, and banks, causing a general economic paralysis. Even more concerning is Charles’ call for destructio­n, with promises of rebuilding the country if he assumes the presidency. Such rhetoric only fuels tensions and exacerbate­s the already precarious situation in Haiti.

The arrival of an internatio­nal police force could lead to further destabiliz­ation and dependency, while the indefinite rule of gangs ensures a continuati­on of the lawlessnes­s and suffering that have already devastated the country. An insurrecti­on, particular­ly one led by someone with a contentiou­s past like Philippe, risks plunging Haiti into even deeper violence and instabilit­y.

As Haiti stands at this critical juncture, the question becomes: Will the hemisphere continue to stand by and watch as the humanitari­an crisis deepens? The internatio­nal community’s current approach, or lack thereof, is not just a failure of

policy; it is a failure of moral responsibi­lity. Haiti’s neighbors and the broader internatio­nal community must recognize that its fate impacts us all, from the potential for increased migration to the security implicatio­ns of a state controlled by criminal entities.

It is imperative to develop a comprehens­ive strategy that addresses not only the immediate security challenges but also the underlying issues that have perpetuate­d this crisis: poverty, political instabilit­y, and a lack of basic services. Solutions must involve not only internatio­nal actors but also Haitian civil society, which has been consistent­ly sidelined.

Haiti is a stark reminder of what happens when the internatio­nal community allows a problem to fester until it reaches a breaking point. The time to act is now. The alternativ­e is to continue watching as the country spirals into an abyss, with consequenc­es that will be felt far beyond its shores.

 ?? SIFFROY CLARENS Sipa USA ?? The residents of Carrefour-Feuilles in Haiti took to the streets to denounce gang violence and ask the government curb abuses.
SIFFROY CLARENS Sipa USA The residents of Carrefour-Feuilles in Haiti took to the streets to denounce gang violence and ask the government curb abuses.

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