The Plaine du Cul-de-Sac goes from being a productive agricultural area to a gang lair divided into several groups
Herold wanted to be strong, but his voice was still charged with emotion. As he speaks to me, twenty-four hours have not passed since he was attacked by gangsters in Butte Boyer, not too far from Croix-des-Missions. The mechanic technician returned from work when he found himself attacked by heavily armed men.
They quickly surrounded me and pointed their guns at me,” he says. Fortunately, one of them, who seemed to be the leader, ordered them to let me go. They obeyed.
The Comme il faut worker, the Tobacco Company, was still in shock. However, the next day, at 6 a.m., he took the same road to go to work. I don’t really have the choice,” he says. Whether you decide to go through Croix-des-missions or Drouillard, the risk is the same.” The fact is that the entire Plaine du cul-de-sac has become a stronghold for gangs.
In fact, the area is a strategic territory. Sony Laurole, a PhD student in geopolitics at the University of Paris VIII, believes that it is the geographical position of this large plain that makes it very attractive to gang members. ” It is crossed by several interregional roads”, he explains. Tactical fallback options are a lot, and they can also blend in if needed. In addition, the Plaine du Cul-de-Sac is linked to the eastern side of the island by the national road that leads to the Dominican Republic. This allows armed groups to obtain assault rifles from the neighboring country.
Gangsters are always looking for undeveloped and overcrowded territories to hide in. With its slums, the Plaine du Cul-de-Sac becomes a strategic place. It is “compatible” with gangsterism, affirms Laurole. The full of slums makes it difficult for the police to have access. And if they ever get in, the residents can be used as human shields.
It’s geostrategic,” says Sony Laurole. Without a gun, a gang member can easily pose as a kind citizen.
The Plaine du Cul-de-Sac goes from being a productive agricultural area to a gang lair divided into several groups. Whiler Jules, the coordinator of the Assemblée de Section communale de la première section troisième Belle vue of Tabarre, believes that the reputation of this fertile region has been tarnished by the internal migration that followed the 2010 earthquake. After this disaster, people from all over came to live there.
So far, says Jules, the plain was lived in by people who could identify with the middle class. The fertile land was built without control.
According to Sony Laurole, the restructuring of the plain is the result of this unorganized method. New distritcs like Canaan and Jérusalem were established. Rapidly, they became big slums. Groups have sought to control them under the guise of restoring order and stability. It was the beginning of large-scale insecurity. Quickly, several young people in the area armed themselves and began to form gangs.
It is a fact that the Plain is plagued by gangsterism. However, an urban planner, who wishes to remain anonymous, does not agree with the reasons for this invasion of illegal armed groups. It’s not an urbanization issue,” she says.
It’s a prejudice against the poor,” she explains. The gangs we have today are a new reality. It’s crime.” “If they do “politics,” it’s just to advance a criminal plan,” the expert states. According to her, slums certainly give a bad image, but blaming the people who live in these areas does not make sense.
Several offices of the Haitian National Police are in the plain. There is the military brigade service, the departmental direction of the West, or the unit for the fight against drug trafficking … In other words, “there should be no possibility of gangs forming,” says Whiler Jules. Insecurity in the region is linked to politics, he says. “The battle [between the gangs] is certainly for control of more territory, but politics is leading it. “
Sony Laurole seems to support this idea. “As a crowded area, the plain is a strategic space for elections. That said, controlling as many neighborhoods as possible means, for any politician and potential candidate in the next election, having control of the votes ahead of time. It goes through the gangs as electors are likely to vote for candidates supported by the gangsters who control their areas.
It is no longer surprising that gangs are trying to control every area. Localities that don’t yet have a ” leader ” are taken over by groups that want to put them under their control. This is not only happening in the Plaine du Cul-de-Sac. For example, on May 26, 2022, a conflict started between armed groups in the Solino neighborhood, and the gang leader men called Barbecue. According to an inhabitant of this neighborhood, specifically of Achille Street, “Barbecue wants to establish one of his soldiers as chief of Nazon”. There was panic for many days.
We are experiencing what Sony Laurole identifies as a kind of balkanization of the country. Depending on the area controlled, the presence of the population is not always necessary for these gangs. “Even without many people, an area can be used. Martissant is an example, it is emptied of its population, and every house has become a hideout.
Gangs rout the State. This is what Emmanuel Pierre Saint, technical coordinator at the Civil Protection Department, regrets. In the Plaine du Cul-de-Sac or elsewhere, the authorities cannot defeat them. At the beginning of May 2022, civil protection had to accompany the residents of the Plain who were fleeing the war between Chen Mechan and 400 Mawozo. However, the institution is only activated during hurricane times or during natural disasters. This is not our mission,” he adds, “but that of the State, he specifies.
Emmanuel Pierre Saint believes that if they really want to, the authorities can solve the problem. This is also the opinion of Whiler Jules, who accuses the government of feeding these gangsters. There is no proof of these allegations. But human rights organizations, such as the National Network for the defence of human rights, have long accused the administration of the late Jovenel Moïse being in cahoots with some gangs.
Not against the idea that banditry is political, Sony Laurole questions itself. These people who are gang members, the geographer doubts their ability not only to self-supply themselves with weapons but also to understand all the stakes of their actions. “These are instruments,” he concludes. From who? Why? What is the project?… The list of unanswered questions is still very long.
English translation by Didenique Jocelyn.