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 Road to Liberation—the Population Revolts against Gang Rule

May 15, 2023

This article is translated from the May 6 issue #1306 of Combat Ouvrier (Workers Fight), the paper of comrades in Guadeloupe and Martinique, two islands that are French overseas departments in the Caribbean.

Residents of the Canapé Vert neighborhood in Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, captured one dozen gang members on April 24 and killed them.

For two years the capital’s population has lived under the dictatorship of the gangs, with the constant threat of being kidnapped for ransom. People suffer extortion, brutality, and rape. Battles between rival gangs have caused hundreds of deaths of ordinary people. The entrances to Port-au-Prince are blocked by gangs which impose tolls on main roads.

After isolated, defensive reactions in some provincial towns, the city population’s outrage at ransom and murder reached its peak. Their anger showed itself that day. The revolt began when residents of Canapé Vert put 10 gangsters to death. The thugs belonged to a gang led by Ti Makak, who had been killed the week before. The gangsters were caught off guard by the angry residents’ violent reaction. Shortly afterward, two other thugs were killed in nearby Turgeau.

Residents kept watch during the night to prevent a new offensive by the gangs. Neighbors remained vigilant all week, armed with machetes, pikes, and other bladed weapons. They guided the police in the hunt for bandits. Several dozen gangsters were caught during operations launched by self-defense groups which erected barricades in several neighborhoods and checked vehicles and their occupants.

These actions led to an improvement in the situation. Traffic resumed on the capital’s main arteries. No cases of kidnapping have been reported in recent days. At the city’s south, motorists noted the gangsters and their tollbooth were gone. This is the first time in three years they were not there. The thugs fled or went into hiding. This time, fear seems to have traded places. Facing armed groups of the population, the gangsters retreated. This example was followed. People are raising their heads in some other neighborhoods.

Members of the government are offended by the violence of residents fighting back. The Haitian police call on people not to take justice into their own hands. They call for a United Nations military intervention to stop what they call barbarism. But this barbarism was established by the wealthy and by politicians who use their armed henchmen to control neighborhoods in support of their police and their army. Poor people in the neighborhoods and factory workers suffer this barbarity in this capitalist system. Their response is level with the barbarism they suffered.

Some workers are confronting bosses at some companies. By organizing in significant numbers they are managing to push back certain bosses in the industrial zone. They defend their interests, with some good results. They are acquiring class consciousness.

The same workers also find themselves facing the gangs in their neighborhoods. Now the inhabitants are starting to fight back by defending and arming themselves. Politicians, rich people, capitalists, and the international community all fear that this response against the gangs will turn into a general revolt which could turn against the government which protects the wealthy and the exploiters. This is what all these people fear the most. They are terrified that the poor population will revolt and take their fate into their own hands. This is proof that the workers and poor people are on the right track.