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

The People Confronting Gang Violence

Mar 20, 2023

This article is translated from the March 11 issue, #1302 of Combat Ouvrier (Workers Fight), the paper of comrades in Guadeloupe and Martinique, two islands that are French overseas departments in the Caribbean.

Clashes between armed gangs have been on the rise in recent weeks in several neighborhoods in Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince. The population is caught between rival gangs.

Neighborhoods previously spared now come under attack by armed gangs. The assailants kill, rape, and loot. Kidnappings rack up. Passers-by and shopkeepers alike are kidnapped. A teacher was kidnapped along with his wife and child and two other people with them. That same day, the inspector general of Haiti’s national police and his daughter were kidnapped while he was taking her to school. The gangs strike relentlessly.

Thousands of families have fled from their homes seeking refuge outside the capital. But places to shelter are becoming increasingly rare. Other neighborhoods are also under the control of other armed groups. Some Haitian community organizations say these groups now control the entire capital.

While the government waited for a military intervention by Canada or another United Nations military power, working people adapted to the situation in order to survive. One worker said, “When there is gunfire we hide, but then we go back to normal life. We are not sure of being able to return home in the evening, so we plan alternative places to sleep, and we carry a change of clothes in our bag.”

Given the amount of violence exerted against the population, the vast majority of people have suffered these abuses. But in spite of this, pockets of resistance are forming in the provinces, where people in some areas are organizing to fight back. Neighbors in the department of Artibonite identified and caught several gangsters and put them to death. Neighborhood brigades began patrolling in the evening, checking and stopping unknown individuals. They set fire to one house where suspicious people tried to settle. By doing this, they stopped the gang attacks that were happening in the area. These patrols have shown that the only rescue from the situation will come from the anger and mobilization of people living in working class neighborhoods, urban or rural.