The Spark

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

Haiti:
Workers Confront Armed Gangs

Apr 26, 2021

Trotskyist activists of the Organization of Revolutionary Workers (OTR) active in Haiti reported in the latest issue of their monthly, Workers Voice (La Voix des Travailleurs) how criminal gangs were created and armed by the government.

... Confronted by the criminal gangs’ campaign of terror against the population, President Jovenel Moïse had to respond. But his response showed he is no longer running anything. Faced with the armed gangs’ advance, which brought him to his knees, he made a desperate appeal to the U.S. through the Organization of American States and the United Nations.

“I asked the UN for technical and logistical support for the PNH [Haiti’s national police], in order to combat thuggery in Haiti and to strengthen the poverty reduction program,” he announced in a tweet.

Militias, paramilitaries, and criminal gangs are a permanent fixture in the country’s politics. Given the inability of the ruling classes to meet the demands of the majority of the population, all governments always have resorted to gangs of thugs to grab and hold power. So Moïse is not the first president to use armed gangs to drown the aspirations of the working class and the exploited masses in blood for the benefit of the corrupt political class and the bourgeoisie.

Moïse really turned to the gangs during the economy-paralyzing mass protests in winter 2018–2019 to counter the advance of his political opponents. He encouraged the gangs, financed them, and armed them, to maintain his power. As they evolved, these criminal gangs broadened their field of action by engaging in all kinds of crimes, including trafficking, and selling their services to the highest bidders—aiming to free themselves from the tutelage of the head of state.

With money from kidnapping and selling drugs and weapons, criminal gangs occupy many parts of the country. They are heavily armed and use the residents as shields. They are a real thorn in the side for Moïse, but especially for workers and the exploited masses who suffer their crimes.

Moïse’s appeal to the U.S. government is a diversion. As much as the armed gangs thwart his directives, make his authority look make-believe, and pile ridicule on the police, he has neither the will nor the means to confront them.

But ordinary people have clearly shown a number of times, on the streets and in the media, their desire to go and do battle with the bandits holed up in working-class neighborhoods. They have said loud and clear that the solution will come from their own involvement and from their struggles. They are right. Faced with a rebellious and determined population, even an army cannot resist. But it is not enough to get rid of the gangs, it is also necessary to destroy the political and economic system that gave birth to them.