Image of Haiti AFP

Haiti is currently engulfed in chaos as local gangs fight with weakened government and police forces for control. But despite the conflict being eminently local, the criminal groups are aided by a key foreign component: their weapons mainly come from overseas. Specifically, from the United States.

NBC News reported that the Department of Homeland Security is trying to stop this illegal flow, which mainly takes place in Florida. Sniper rifles and machine guns are among the powerful weapons that the government is trying to seize.

The caliber of the guns sent has grown more potent than before, the outlet added, what could translate into further escalation in the crisis-ridden country. And authorities face a daunting task, as shipments are camouflaged and hidden among the thousands of containers leaving U.S. ports every day.

An American official explained that smugglers are likely exploiting a loophole that allows cargo with a handwritten manifest worth less than $2,500 to avoid inspection.

A recent U.N. report underscored the importance of stemming the flow of weapons reaching the country to give authorities a better chance to restore security.

On that note, a group of U.S. lawmakers introduced the Caribbean Arms Trafficking Causes Harm (CATCH) Act, which seeks to do exactly this but not only in Haiti, but other countries in the region as well. The bill requires the Coordinator for Caribbean Firearms Prosecutions to report on implementation efforts and coordination with federal, state and local authorities on this.

"Weapons trafficking by way of the United States is a major contributor to Haiti's growing gang crisis and the current instability that plagues the country," Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, D-Fla., said in a statement in March.

In the meantime violence continues in Haiti, with over 50,000 having fled Port-au-Prince in the past three weeks, Euronews reported. More than 60% of the population is heading to the southern, more rural region of the country, something that has worried UN officials as the area lacks the infrastructure needed to address the needs of that many people.


The Haitian capital continues to be a battleground, with new clashes reported on Monday in the vicinity of the Presidential Palace. At least one police officer sustained a gunshot wound and gang members set fire to an armored vehicle, according to Infobae.

Haiti continues immersed in chaos as the country's recently-formed transitional council, tasked with verseeing a political transition, is slow to get going. Following weeks of negotiations, the body issued its first statement this week, vowing to restore "public and democratic order."

"We are determined to alleviate the suffering of the Haitian people, trapped for too long between bad governance, multi-faceted violence and disregard for their perspectives and needs," said the statement from the Presidential Council, which has yet to be officially installed as it's still waiting for it to be officially confirmed. Once that happens, the body will be tasked with appointing a new president, approving a multinational security force to deal with the violence and pave the way for general elections.

However, Jimmy "Barbecue" Chérizier, one of the country's main gang leaders, has said that he'd only be willing to consider calling a ceasefire if his armed organization is included in the current talks aimed at lifting the country from its current state of collapse. He also warned that any foreign peacekeeping mission that could be deployed in the country would be considered an enemy and meet armed resistance.

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