Haitian Politician Ties to Gang Violence
Four main types of gang groups operate in civil and political life in Haiti. The most recognizable of them are street gangs, who give themselves colorful names like "Rat" and "Sans Teté". These groups are not well organized, and carry crude weapons. Another gang category consists of ex-military and soldier-of-fortune members. Closely allied with them are paramilitary groups and goons. Criminal activities include drug trafficking, loan sharking, and union violence. The most professional gangs belong to mobs, who engage in racketeering, sales of arms, and gambling.
The international community remains ignorant about the complexity of gang activity, painting them with a broad brush. Haitian citizens have a different perspective on gangs and what they represent to the community. In the most poverty-stricken neighborhoods, gangs serve as an unofficial policing presence to protect residents and merchants from small-time criminals. They insist on being paid to provide protection.
The most insidious use of gangs is their connection to high-level government officials, who use them to threaten those opposed to their policies. For example, death threats were sent to two Parliament members by a member of the opposition recently.
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