Mass Jail-Break in Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Bianca Bridger
Bianca Bridger
Bianca holds a degree in Political Science from the University of Otago, New Zealand. As the Africa Desk Chief for Atlas, her expertise spans conflict, politics, and history. She is also the Editor for The ModernInsurgent and has interests in yoga and meditation.

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What You Need to Know:

Thousands of prisoners have been released from Haiti’s National Penitentiary and Croix-des-Bouquets Civil Prison following a coordinated attack by gang members allegedly orchestrated by infamous ‘G9’ leader Jimmy Chérizier, known locally as ‘Barbecue.’

The attack began on Saturday night, although official numbers on the number of escapee’s has not been released. Unofficial channels report however, that only the old, disabled, and the ‘Colombian Commandos’ accused of orchestrating the killing of Moïse, remained in their cells for fear of being ‘caught in the crossfire.’ The National Penitentiary held 4000 inmates while the Civil Prison held 1,400. 

Formerly a police officer, Barbeque united nine of Haiti’s most feared gangs in June 2020, creating a federation known as the G9 and Family. Following the assassination of former President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021, whose administration allegedly provided Barbque with 50% of its funding, Barbeque has attempted to use his influence as a gang leader to fill the power vacuum left in Moïse’s wake. 

Haiti’s Acting President, Ariel Henry came to power after Moïse’s death, and is yet to hold elections, further inflaming tensions between the Haitian Government and its people while Port-au-Prince’s security situation continues to deteriorate. 

The Details:

Haiti’s national police has just 9000 members to police a population of 11 million. Furthermore, the security situation in Port-au-Prince has pulled many police resources intended for outer regions back to the capital, allowing for gang influence to spread to regions left underpoliced. 

However, just two days ago, an agreement between Haiti and Kenya was reached in an attempt to salvage a security deal allowing for the deployment of 1,000 Kenyan police officers to the embattled nations capital. 

Jamaica, Belize, Chad, Senegal, and Burundi have also announced their intention to send forces.