HomeNewsHaiti’s Neighbors Grow Concerned at Spread of Gang Governance

Haiti’s Neighbors Grow Concerned at Spread of Gang Governance


International efforts to help Haiti since the devastating August 14 earthquake continue to be hampered by gang violence, with reports now emerging that ships carrying emergency aid from Mexico were fired upon.

At a press conference on September 8 in Mexico City, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced that aid ships sent to Haiti had not been able to dock and unload all the goods.

“Shots were fired, we had to anchor the ships and wait for better conditions. We had trouble disembarking goods because the gangs have taken almost all of Haiti,” he said. Later, the aid began to be unloaded but disturbances started once again and the ships had to pull back a second time. López Obrador added that he would discuss with the US government how to best get aid where it needed to go in Haiti.

SEE ALSO: Truce or No Truce: Gangs in Haiti Control Aid Movement

And in the neighboring Dominican Republic, President Luis Abinader has sent a clear message to Haitian gangs who might have ambitions to enter the country. “We…have precisely identified who are the people who lead those Haitian gangs…and we recommend that they do not cross the border because they will be confronted by the Armed Forces,” he said in a radio interview on September 2.

This mounting international outcry comes as gangs have pressed the advantage.

The earthquake worsened insecurity in a country still reeling from the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July.

After a brief lull, kidnappings have soared once again, with senior government officials and military personnel being targeted. A gang truce brokered to allow aid convoys to leave Port-au-Prince and reach earthquake-hit areas is looking flimsy. And gangs are acting as de facto authorities in parts of the country, including sections of the capital, controlling access to hospitals and markets, enforcing tight curfews and driving thousands from their homes.

InSight Crime Analysis

Until a few months ago, Haiti’s gangs were seen as a highly dangerous but domestic problem. But the expansion of their criminal governance has now been so rapid that other countries are right to take notice for several reasons.

First, Haiti’s gang leaders are expanding their power base and gaining outsized influence on matters of state. Jimmy Chérizier, alias “Barbecue,” a former police officer who became the island’s most powerful criminal figure, has positioned himself to take advantage of Haiti’s power vacuum. In June, ahead of Moïse’s assassination, Chérizier called for the gang alliance which he runs, known as G9 an fanmi (G9 and family), to become a revolutionary force against the government, the opposition and the bourgeoisie. On September 3, his ambitions became even clearer. After two days of violence in Port-au-Prince blamed on the G9, Chérizier released another video, calling for the prime minister to resign and stating that “any political battle aims to take power.”

SEE ALSO: Profile of Jimmy Chérizier, alias 'Barbecue'

At the moment, neither the G9 alliance nor smaller, localized gangs have a clear means of force projection abroad, especially in such a complex criminal landscape as the Dominican Republic.

But, second, rising violence is fuelling the exodus of Haitian migrants across the region. Between January and July 2021, Panama registered more than 20,000 Haitians crossing the border, with more each month, up significantly from 2020 when numbers dropped due to the pandemic. Similar crises are taking place with thousands of Haitian migrants stuck in Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Mexico. Gang violence has directly contributed to the numbers of displaced people as well as other criminal economies, including child trafficking from Haiti to the Dominican Republic.

“In Haiti, more than a failing state we have a non-existent state,” economist Joseph Harold Pierre told Bloomberg. But the gangs are all too happy to exist in its place.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.


What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.


Related Content

HAITI / 23 MAR 2022

A wave of violence has rocked the small Haitian town of Croix-des-Bouquets, shining a light on how this strategic area…


Kidnappings in Haiti have increased during the first three months of 2022, continuing a grim surge that began last year…

HAITI / 26 MAR 2021

Officials in Haiti are calling on authorities to break up a group of disaffected, violent police officers that has in…

About InSight Crime


Extensive Coverage of our Chronicles of a Cartel Bodyguard

23 SEP 2022

Our recent investigation, A Cartel Bodyguard in Mexico’s 'Hot Land', has received extensive media coverage.


InSight Crime, American University Host Illegal Fishing Panel

19 SEP 2022

InSight Crime and the Center for Latin American & Latino Studies (CLALS) at American University discussed the findings of a joint investigation on IUU fishing at a September 9 conference.


Impact on the Media Landscape

9 SEP 2022

InSight Crime’s first investigation on the Dominican Republic made an immediate impact on the Dominican media landscape, with major news outlets republishing and reprinting our findings, including in …


InSight Crime Sharpens Its Skills

2 SEP 2022

Last week, the InSight Crime team gathered for our annual retreat in Colombia, where we discussed our vision and strategy for the next 12 months.  During the week, we also learned how to…


Colombia’s Fragile Path to Peace Begins to Take Shape

26 AUG 2022

InSight Crime is charting the progress of President Gustavo Petro’s agenda as he looks to revolutionize Colombia’s security policy, opening dialogue with guerrillas, reforming the military and police, and…