‘A criminal economy’: How US arms fuel deadly gang violence in Haiti

For years, as armed groups plunged Haiti into deeper unrest, human rights advocates and civil society groups have issued a clear demand.

Stop the flow of illicit firearms to criminal gangs — especially from the United States.

Now, as a surge in deadly gang attacks grips the capital of Port-au-Prince, their call is ringing out once more.

“Haiti has no weapons or ammunition factory,” said Rosy Auguste Ducena, a lawyer and programme director at the National Human Rights Defense Network (RNDDH), a prominent Haitian rights group.

“So the weapons and ammunition that circulate in Haiti and that sow mourning in Haiti are coming from elsewhere and, for the most part, from the United States.”

From handguns to semi-automatic and even military-style firearms, the range of weapons and ammunition streaming into Haiti goes largely unchecked amid weak state institutions, corruption and challenges in monitoring the country’s vast coastline.

“Today, if the United States in particular wants to help Haiti, they can help control what leaves their country,” Ducena said. “That would already be a very good thing.”

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