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Haiti descends into chaos, facing an uncertain future

Haiti is in crisis. The Caribbean nation is spiraling into chaos, as violent gangs now roam much of the country.
Haiti descends into chaos, facing an uncertain future
Posted at 8:55 PM, Mar 09, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-09 23:44:09-05

In Haiti, civil society is on the brink of collapse. Armed gangs roam freely throughout the country as violence spreads, virtually paralyzing the hemisphere's poorest nation.

The United Nations says nearly half of Haiti's 11 million people are now in need of humanitarian assistance.

"There's no elected officials in Haiti — and so, you have a very chaotic environment situation now, where Haiti is essentially a democracy in name only," said Garry Pierre-Pierre, founder of The Haitian Times

The newspaper caters to the more than 1 million people of Haitian descent living in the United States.

"We are just watching and hoping for the best," Pierre-Pierre said. "The U.S. has shown very little appetite to intervene directly."

Haiti is no stranger to strife and despair — a 2010 earthquake devastated the country and, more recently, Haiti's president was assassinated in 2021. Gang leaders in Haiti want to oust the current leader, Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who last week traveled to Kenya to try to negotiate for troops there to come help quell the violence in his country.

On Friday, a U.S. State Department spokesperson said U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to Prime Minister Henry by phone, encouraging him to accept a deal brokered by stakeholders.

"In his conversation with Prime Minister Henry, Secretary Blinken expressed support for a proposal ... to expedite a political transition through the creation of a broad-based, independent presidential college to steer the country toward the deployment of a Multinational Security Support mission and free and fair elections," said State Dept. Spokesperson Matthew Miller.

Prime Minister Henry's grip on power is weak, as he is currently unable to get back to Haiti and is stuck in Puerto Rico. A spokesperson for Haitians living there also said they want him out of office.

SEE MORE: Foreigners trapped in violence-torn Haiti wait desperately to get out

"We are here to ask for the resignation of the prime minister, so that there can be elections and the country can go back to normal," said Leonardo Prophil, a spokesperson for Haitian community in Puerto Rico. 

Yet, normalcy may be tough to recapture, after a massive escape of hundreds of murderers, kidnappers and other violent criminals from Haiti's two biggest prisons earlier this month. It is adding to the chaos of an already fragile nation.

"There are no good choices right now because I think we've let this fester a little bit too long," Pierre-Pierre said. "So now, in the short term, we have to have some kind of a intervention force. What that looks like, it's being debated, but the police just cannot do the job by themselves — and so, you have to restore some kind of order, so that people can conduct business and go about their daily lives."

They are lives now facing a more desperate situation by the day.

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