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 Population Facing the Gangs

Oct 16, 2023

This article is translated from the October 7, issue #1313 of Combat Ouvrier (Workers Struggle), the paper of the revolutionary workers group of that name active on the islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique.

The dominant system of our time, the worldwide capitalist system, creates subhuman situations, the greatest misery and barbarism from one end of the planet to the other. That is certainly the situation in Haiti.

Gangs exercise terror there on a daily basis. The abuses committed by these gangs are appalling: rapes, kidnappings, killings.

At the origin of these modern gangs are politicians who armed them and/or capitalists who paid them off and use them to settle their accounts with political opponents. Jovenel Moise, the Haitian president murdered in 2021, had his own gang. Then the gangs multiplied. That there are today gangs acting for their own account is not surprising. Heads of state have long created and used their own gangs.

From 1957 to 1986, the dictatorship of the Duvaliers, father and son, terrorized the population with their militia army, the Tonton Macoute. Other heads of state have copied them, like former President Aristide and his “Chimeres.” Then president Martelly, from 2011 to 2016, directly financed the gangs in order to put them at his service. Chimeres, zenglendos, and other bandits have multiplied without end.

On top of gang violence, the population suffers from extreme poverty. Out of 12 million people in the country, 5.2 million need emergency help for food and shelter.

It is poverty that feeds the gangs. Those who decide to join these bands of murderers are coming themselves from working-class neighborhoods and are often very young people. They put themselves under the orders of gang leaders, in the hope of receiving a little nest egg or just having a meal.

Capitalism is a class system where the capitalists get rich by exploiting the working class. And so, the rich have an interest in keeping workers poor, and even in seeing them get poorer. This is the case all over the world, and it’s even more true in Haiti. Poverty forces workers to accept extreme speedup and wages that aren’t even enough to survive. The capitalists maintain this poverty with the help of countries like the U.S. and France. The United States turns a blind eye to trafficking of weapons in Haiti, which come from Florida!

The workers and the poor population of Haiti cannot rely on anyone but themselves.

The few revolts of residents of Port-au-Prince neighborhoods against the gangs are examples of the determination that the population can demonstrate. In forming and multiplying self-defense groups, the population can make the gangs fear them for once and regain control of the streets and neighborhoods. In doing so they would not be far from building their own political party. We saw workers in the Sanopi area, for instance, stand up to the fiercest bosses, and go on strike for their wages.

And then the population of Haiti constantly organize demonstrations against gangs or against the Prime Minister. Regularly, thousands of people take to the streets and express their anger. Their conditions show the need to go further.

If the workers and the Haitian population managed to form a revolutionary workers party, an organized expression of class consciousness, then the conditions would be ripe for radical change, the extermination of gangs but also the eradication of capitalists who suck the blood of workers from Haiti. This would be the way toward the revolutionary taking of power by the workers and the poor.