An alliance of Haitian gangs, known as G9, may be at risk as two of its founding members have fought bitterly in Port-au-Prince in recent weeks, threatening to bring further chaos to the city's poorest neighborhoods.
Since early June, one of Port-au-Prince's largest gangs, Grand Ravine, has launched an attack on the neighborhood of Martissant, currently controlled by the rival gang of Ti Bwa.
Hundreds of residents have fled Martissant and the nearby neighborhood of Fontamara, with media reports speaking of at least 10 dead. On June 6, authorities announced that order had been restored in the area but this appears to have only been the case during a visit by Haitian Prime Minister Claude Joseph to the area.
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Residents have continued to report regular outbreaks of violence since then. Many residents have not returned and speculation is rife the gangs were paid off to temporarily cease the violence during Joseph's visit, according to Haitian newspaper, Le National.
This fighting began when the Grand Ravine gang, led by alias "Ti Lapli," sought to regain control of Martissant's districts 1, 2, 3 and 7. The gang formerly controlled the territory but was pushed out by Ti Bwa, led by Christ-Roi Chéry, alias "Chrisla."
This fighting imperils the G9 an fanmi (G9 and family) alliance, given local reports that Haiti's leading criminal figure and G9 founder, Jimmy Chérizier, alias "Barbecue," had tried to negotiate an end to the violence.
According to Michael Deibert, a journalist who covers Haiti, the Grand Ravine may have ignored these attempts to stop the violence as it left the G9 alliance several months ago.
Last October, Grand Ravine leader Ti Lapli appeared on a radio broadcast to state he had kidnapped a top lottery executive because Chérizier was not providing for him financially.
“Everyone has to fight to survive in this country,” Ti Lapli said.
InSight Crime Analysis
The G9 alliance, in place since 2020, is a new kind of criminal structure in Haiti, bringing together some of the country's most important gangs in exchange for impunity and support from politics and police.
But this outbreak of violence between Grand Ravine and Ti Bwa highlights how the alliance cannot eradicate long-simmering rivalries.
In 2018, Martissant had already seen violence between the two gangs, causing displacements and leaving a number of residents killed. In 2019, Ti Lapli and Chrisla sat down to negotiate a truce but nothing seems to have come of it until the G9 alliance was created.
The fact that Cherizier, not a man usually known for his negotiation skills, tried to act as mediator between Ti Lapli and Chrisla showed how keen he is to keep the alliance together.
Should the G9 further splinter, the individual members would be unlikely to enjoy the same level of political protection, given their reduced ability to serve government interests.