It’s no secret that Haiti is facing its worst security crisis in recent memory, with criminal gangs in control of increasingly large parts of the country. Insecurity is not just a problem in the capital, Port-au-Prince; according to our partners, gangs are now operating even in isolated rural areas. The gangs have power because they are armed. A major source of weapons is the United States, entering Haiti through Miami, often by way of third countries in the Caribbean. Some of the gun running is illegal; in other cases, weapons are destined for the police force but end up in the hands of the gangs, according to our partners.
Haiti’s future depends on neutralizing the gangs. Last week Quixote Center, together with our colleagues from the Haiti Advocacy Working Group, met with the Office of Representative Joaquin Castro (D-TX), who is the ranking member of the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, to discuss security in Haiti. We were able to lift up the voices of our partners in Haiti, who are asking that the United States put a stop to the gun running.
Congressman Castro has introduced the bipartisan U.S.-Caribbean Strategic Engagement Act of 2023. Among other things, the Act requires the United States government to create a strategy to address the illicit gun trafficking and violence in the Caribbean. The strategy will prioritize reducing the flow of illicit weapons out of the United States, as well as providing technical assistance to Caribbean security forces that monitor maritime borders and ports of entry, to prevent illicit weapons from entering countries in the Caribbean, including Haiti.
Congressman Castro is seeking additional co-sponsors for this legislation. We invite each of you to write to your Member of Congress to encourage them to co-sponsor the Act. You can send a message at this link.
This legislation cannot address the issue of why weapons that enter Haiti legally, intended to strengthen Haiti’s police force, end up in the hands of gangs. The reality is that the current illegitimate government of Haiti is colluding with some gangs and diverting weapons shipments. We once again call on the U.S. government to end its support for the Ariel Henri government in Haiti and to instead insist on dialogue and negotiations that bring all parties and civil society to the table to map out a plan for free, fair, and democratic elections. We are working on an action to address this issue with our government for later this summer. Stay tuned!
We are grateful for your support as we work toward a future for Haiti free of violence and insecurity, one where each person’s life is valued and each family can support itself with dignity. You can contribute to our work here.