‘Haitian-Led Solutions’ at the Forefront of CARICOM Emergency Meeting

What You Need to Know:

Following Haiti’s descent into violence in recent weeks, an emergency meeting between members of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and envoys from Canada, France, the United Nations, and the United States began today in Kingston, Jamaica. 

The meeting was convened after a mass jailbreak was conducted by infamous G9 gang leader Jimmy ‘Barbeque’ Chérizier in Port-au-Prince on March 3rd. At least 4000 prisoners are thought to have been released while acting President Ariel Henry was in Kenya to sign a deal authorizing the deployment of a Kenyan support force to the country. 

Henry has not been able to return to Haiti following the attempted storming of Toussaint Louverture Airport by armed gangs on March 5th. The President, who took office after the assassination of Jovenel Moïse in 2021 has failed to hold elections, prompting gang leader Barbeque to call for his resignation to prevent the nation from descending into a civil war.

The deteriorating security situation in the country prompted the United States to evacuate all non-essential embassy staff over the weekend. 

The Details:

A press conference led by Mohamed Irfaan Ali, Chairman of CARICOM and Guyanese President, repeatedly stressed the importance of Haitian-led solutions in dealing with the country’s crisis. 

Almost every speaker at the conference, including US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the French Minister of State and Development, the Mexican Foreign Minister and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed their support of a ‘broad based independent presidential college’ designed to meet the needs of the Haitian people. 

Additionally, each speaker supported the deployment of a multinational force to the country, with the Mexican Foreign Minister stating their country’s intent to broaden their training program for Haitian security services. 

The United States’ Antony Blinken pledged to double the Department of Defense’s support for the country from 100 million to 200 million, with an additional 33 million provided to bolster Haiti’s health and food sectors. 

CARICOM stressed the importance of creating the conditions necessary to hold free and fair elections, but that Haitians must be at the forefront of the process if a lasting peace is to be had. 

So, What Now?:

The swift gathering of CARICOM and international delegates indicates just how dire the situation is in Haiti. The importance of urgency and vision in regards to the deployment of the multinational force in the country, as well as economic and political restructuring was repeatedly stressed during the CARICOM press conference. If Haiti is to descend into civil war, the stability of the Caribbean region would be majorly under threat, particularly if the state falls into the hands of rival gang leaders. A similar situation was seen during the Liberian civil war, during which rival gang leaders vied for power, killing an estimated 200,000. 

However, tackling the flow of illegal arms in Haiti is difficult, particularly because many of them are trafficked from Florida to Haitian ports. A UN report has stated, “the principal source of firearms and munitions in Haiti is in the US, and in particular Florida. Popular handguns selling for $400-500 at federally licensed firearms outlets or private gun shows in the US can be resold for as much a $10,000 in Haiti, though prices vary depending on local preferences and international supply. 

114 Higher-powered rifles such as AK47s, AR15s and Galils are typically in higher demand from gangs, commanding correspondingly higher prices. A network of criminal actors, including members of the Haitian diaspora, often source firearms from across the US (see Map 2).115 Analysts speak of an “iron pipeline” that not only spans the US, but also shuttles firearms and ammunition to countries across the Americas, including Haiti. 

116 Weapons are frequently procured through straw man purchases in US states with looser gun laws and fewer purchasing restrictions.117 Once acquired, firearms and ammunition are then transported to Florida where they are concealed and shipped to Haiti. Consignments may be assembled and delivered in containers directly from ports in South Florida, with items hidden inside consumer products, electronic equipment, garment linings, frozen food items or even the hulls of freighters. 118 On arrival in Haiti, including major hubs such as Port-de-Paix and Port-au-Prince, cargo is offloaded and passed on to end-users via a host of intermediaries.” 

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Bianca Bridger
Bianca Bridger
Bianca Bridger is a Political Science Graduate from the University of Otago, New Zealand. Currently working as an Editor for The ModernInsurgent and writing for Atlas News, her interests include conflict politics, history, yoga and meditation.