Haiti’s trade unions to strike in protest of rising crime and kidnappings

Haitian trade unions are today expected to start two days of nationwide strikes in protest of ongoing violent crime. While

Haiti's trade unions to strike in protest of rising crime and kidnappings

Photo: JEAN MARC HERVE ABELARD/​EPA-EFE/​Shutterstock

Haitian trade unions are today expected to start two days of nationwide strikes in protest of ongoing violent crime.

While Haiti is accustomed to high crime rates, a surge in kidnappings from early 2020 onwards has provoked outrage. Criminal gangs operating in impoverished urban areas target those deemed rich enough to pay. Human rights organisations estimate four people are kidnapped for ransom daily.

Although President Jovenel Moise is likely to sympathise with protest demands—in a rare move, he recently urged the public to assist police to hunt perpetrators—he is very unlikely to be able to reduce crime in the short-to-medium term. The rise in violent crime is inexorably linked to the underfunded police and security forces that cannot even penetrate urban areas where gangs have established near-total control. As such, crime, particularly kidnapping, rates will remain high in the short-to-medium term, despite the protests.

Furthermore, Haiti’s endemic political instability is likely to continue disrupting the government’s ability to fight crime. Moise’s unstable presidency will face a major constitutional challenge on February 7 over whether his term ends on that date next week or next year.

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