Haiti: Gangbusters Succeed, Sort Of

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April 26, 2007: After a four month campaign of raids and aggressive patrolling, the police and UN peacekeepers have shut down the gangs that controlled the major slum areas in the capital. For the last two months, the slums have been quiet at night, and police patrols are no longer fired on. Over a dozen gangs had ruled these shanty towns, openly displaying, and using, their weapons day and night. There were several major gun battles as some of the gangs resisted the pacification program. Over 400 gang members, including several gang leaders, have been arrested. Many more gangsters have fled, or gone underground. While kidnapping, and other crimes, are down, they have not been eliminated. In fact, at least one gang has taken to kidnapping small children (seven or younger). And the drug gangs, who were always low key and discrete, continue to thrive. While some of the major gangs have been destroyed, most moved, reorganized and learned to be unobtrusive. Economically, Haiti is still a basket case. But with street violence down, schools and other public services have been restored in most areas, and aid organizations can operate without fear of attack.

 

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