The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Gangs Conquering Capital

Aug 29, 2022

For decades, the impoverished islands in the Caribbean have acted as “industrial zones” for France and the United States. For 100 years, Haiti has served as a low-paid workshop for U.S. corporations. For more than 200 years, Haitian workers have been the same low-paid labor for French companies.

And in the recent disasters, including earthquakes, hurricanes, and cholera, Haiti and other Caribbean nations have received promises of aid from rich countries that amounted to nothing. Some people have still not been re-employed or re-housed from the devastation of the 2010 earthquake.

The militants of Combat Ouvrier (Workers Fight) a journal in Guadeloupe and Martinique, wrote in July of these conditions:

For months, the poorest population in Haiti has been terrorized by gangs in the working-class neighborhoods. They have suffered kidnappings, killings, rapes, robberies; and now, these gangs are acting as if they were the power of the state.

A leader of the best-known gang called his gang’s actions the “coup of brilliance” and claimed he was the only one who could lay a wreath on the monument of the “Hero of Independence” at a remembrance ceremony last October. Since June, his gang has occupied the Palace of Justice (similar to the U.S. Department of Justice). Official documents that go to Parliament have been compromised. The gangs have destroyed police stations and claim they make the laws.

Two gangs are fighting for control of the capital, the G9, headed by a former policeman, and the GPep. Their last confrontation in a really poor part of the capital left over 250 dead, injured hundreds and caused hundreds more inhabitants to flee. Power belongs to those who control the most working class neighborhoods and, even more, those who control the industrial zones, from which comes Haiti’s wealth, now in the hands of the gangs.

The gangs have taken control of the ports, so they control all entry and exit of shipping containers. They control the arrival of fuel and other shipments, blocking delivery if they please. So, all transportation of goods is subject to their will. For example, on the main routes, truck drivers, carriers, buses, taxis, even motorcyclists pay them a transit “tax”. In addition, merchants in shops and supermarkets are forced to accept this racketeering if they want to remain open for business.

One gang leader has an “office”, to which people must go for birth certificates or identity cards. In other neighborhoods, gangs deliver makeshift electrical connections, visiting each month to get a payment, like a utility bill, from inhabitants.

In their way of “replacing” the state government, the gangs have rounded up street children, forcing them to be look-outs, intelligence gatherers, and guards for the people who are kidnapped, when they are not forced to be assassins with guns.

The gangs’ control of all roads leads to shortages; goods are blocked from reaching the poor, who are starving. Peasants who can no longer sell their produce go hungry.

However, the gangs are not really operating in the countryside. And in the working-class neighborhoods where the gangs try to operate, they are systematically “unhooked” by the population, which tries to prevent the gangs from establishing a base. Such examples give hope to all because the capital of Haiti has a disgusting history of gangs, whether they were the “macoutes” of President Duvalier’s era, or the army “green olives” gangs, or the “chimeres”, the bandits operating under President Aristide.

Such actions will help the poor to regain their capacity to free themselves from all gangs, and finally from all oppression.