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

Gang Candidates Vie for Power

Mar 11, 2024

This article is adapted from the March 9, 2024, issue #1323, of Combat Ouvrier [Workers Fight], the paper of comrades in Guadeloupe and Martinique, two islands that are French overseas departments in the Caribbean.

In a press release dated March 3, the government of Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry declared a state of emergency in the west of the country, where Port-au-Prince is located, for 72 hours. Faced with coordinated gang attacks, the Prime Minister also decreed a curfew in the same territory until March 7 in an attempt to regain control of the capital.

Since Thursday, February 27, organized gang violence has escalated several notches. The gangs announced their intention to overthrow the Prime Minister. They launched their attacks while Ariel Henry was in Kenya, where he had been negotiating the dispatch of police officers to assist the Haitian police forces. An alliance of gangs, going by “Viv Ansanm,” targeted strategic sites. On Saturday, March 2, the state prison was invaded, and prisoners released, including several gang leaders.

Several important police stations were set on fire, and the main international airport was occupied. Jimmy Chérizier, alias “Barbecue,” claimed responsibility for the attack, saying “all the armed groups act to obtain the departure of Ariel Henry.” With these new strikes, the fate of the inhabitants of the targeted neighborhoods is even more precarious. Some people had to leave their homes, hands in the air; others hid where they could. In addition to several police officers, dozens of people were killed.

All flights to and from Haiti have been canceled for the past eight days. Clearly abandoned by the White House, Prime Minister Ariel Henry, along with several government ministers, is stranded in Puerto Rico. There is a total power vacuum. Politicians are jockeying for position and access to the trough. They wait, like dogs, ready to jump at any opening for a powerful role within the government. The coalition of gangs, via their spokesman “Barbecue,” also claimed political power. But in the end, Uncle Sam will always decide via the Organization of American States and the American Embassy in Haiti.

The absence of a government at the head of the country is of no concern to the population since the presidents, prime ministers, and ministers who have succeeded one another in power have always had only one concern: to deplete the public coffers to fill their bank accounts. The gang onslaught has worsened the living conditions of the working classes, who are the primary victims.

The industrial park in Port-au-Prince, which provides most jobs in the country, is closed. Even though the wages were ridiculously small, they enabled an entire family to survive. The public markets, the lifeblood of the small-scale, informal trade that constitutes the country’s real economy, providing a livelihood for a large part of the population, are not functioning. Small stores in the neighborhoods, when bandits do not loot them, are empty. Most neighborhoods have no water supply either. In addition to the killings, serial kidnappings, and rapes, hunger and thirst are ravaging the population of the capital, which is cut off from the provincial towns. In many of the capital’s outlying districts, a mass exodus of people flee the terror of bandits. As if that weren’t enough, some hospitals serving the poorer sections of the population are being looted, vandalized, or set on fire.

When the workers and the poor are themselves candidates for political power with their own class party, these armed gangs will be no match for them. That is certain, provided that the workers and poor masses find their own emancipation through full class consciousness and a policy of class political independence.