Time to Move From a Lose-Lose #Strategy to a Win-Win Strategy Regarding #Haiti

Washington DC, Dec. 12, 2022

The speculative discussion about a foreign military or #police_action against the #gangs is a lose-lose proposition. If such an intervention were to be fully successful at dismantling the gangs, it would unfortunately undermine Haiti’s law enforcement credibility among its own citizens. And if it were only partially successful, the gangs would simply eventually resurge. 

On the other hand, all is not lost if we think about a different kind of intervention. A sustained pomerium international #training and #technical_support mission managed from within secured training facilities and that does not have foreign forces out front and that does not engage in direct street operations, would #empower_Haiti‘s own national forces to take on the bad guys. Such a strategy would have to strengthen Haiti’s often-neglected judicial, prosecutorial and administrative apparatus, which it badly needs to back up street level law enforcement. The US Government intervened in these areas in the past, including imposing harsh sanctions against the gangs’ #enablers in the USA. But these moves were never undertaken at the same time and never in a comprehensive and highly publicized program of prosecutions and sanctions against the gangs’ international #enablers . The enablers aren’t only in the US. They are in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Panama and Brazil. These countries are where, in addition to the USA and Canada, Haiti’s gang enablers live and do business. In other words, to be successful, a win-win strategy would have to target not only the high level #corrupt_politicians and business elite in Haiti but also their international enablers, money launderers, and weapons suppliers in those countries. That is how the international community would have to weigh in, – not by sending troops. But there’s a snag: this will require political will, as those enablers are well connected in those countries. Many are friends of politicians and are big donors.

Moving from lose-lose interventionist thinking that focuses on politically costly international #military_action against the gangs (and incurring casualties and ill-will)… toward a win-win comprehensive intervention that focuses on smart, strategic technical and judicial support to Haiti’s law enforcement and that builds Haiti’s ability to vet officers, to prosecute cases, and to administer justice, is bold out-of-the-box strategic thinking that requires wide international coordination. The #Global_Fragility_Act, passed by Congress in 2019, of which Haiti is one of the target countries, provides precisely for this degree of interagency and international collaboration on precisely these kinds of challenges.

Bertrand Laurent

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