Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Haitian Gangs--Chimeres/Ghosts

I've been trying to work up a starting bibliography for understanding gangs in Haiti. Not a post. A collection of notes and sources, as always, to help people get what they need to know. Updated January 24, 2010

For the most part, this doesn't follow the usual run of American-based posts. That's because Haiti has been underserved by its own country in documentation (whatever documentation is now lost, too) and underserved in terms of access to the internet. likewise, the symbols of the gangs seem less widespread, although there are certain, almost corporate-style borrowings from American culture.  So far I've seen little graffiti and no tattoos, a lot of weapons. This is not really gangland as American understands it. It is a failed country.

So, less Web-based bibliography that's gang related. But we do have some:

News and Dated Reports:
2003, December 29, St. Petersburg Times, FL--post-Independence Day conflict in Port-au-Prince. A little on Aristide's Lavalas Family (the Cleansing Flood) and the ties of organized crime to the gangs.

Overseas Security Advisory Council, 2007 Crime and Safety Report. This is a comprehensive but easy-to-read report on the kidnappings, home invasions, and gang activity in not just Cite Soleil but also Martissant, a slum in the southern part of Port-au-Prince. Since it is in common web space, it is the decommissioned report (less recent). The site is security-access only. LEOs might be able to register into the site.

Post Earthquake;
2010, January 15-AP--"Haitian gang members profit from disaster and confusion"
Backgrounder on Security/UN Presence/Police Efforts in Haiti
1. A post on MINUSTAH and the quake.
2. Crime, Police, and Keeping the Peace
3. Security Update

These two are in English and can't be embedded. The rest are in Haitian creole or French are only linked for those who can translate.

--"Ghosts of Cite Soleil" (filmed 2004; released 2006) The reference to chimeres or ghosts refers to the fact that these young men don't live very long and are invisible to the law.
At their Web site, you can view a trailer. They refer you to an unnavigable sales site. If you wish to purchase it, Amazon and the i-Tunes store seem to have it available. Go there instead.

The review at American Prospect suggested that the documentary is unparallelled in access but completely without a context for improvement of the situation. I think access is worth more than a predigested lesson. Anyone can get the context from reading an article or two. In this review, the aid worker in the film is said to behave incomprehensibly.  What he really means is that there is some inappropriate romance going on, that the film is about two young brothers (one names 2-Pac) and one young aid worker and that the documentarist is also young. And aid workers have baggage like everybody else.

--"Haiti, Kidnap Capital of the World." 2006, uploaded in 2008: Journeyman Pictures, 12:46 minutes. This is a very instructive backgrounder, but I can't embed it. In English/Discretion advised. It does have a slightly preachy/horrified tone, but the facts are shown. Amorel, a gang member and his satellites (T-Block, others) views of birth clinics, gang extortion, prisons, talk of rapes, kidnapping rings, gunfights, and allegations against Minustah forces, especially those troops from Jordan--

The Jordanians are quartered in terrible terrain--the heart of Cite Soleil slum--according to the documentary. The UN HQ where those troops are stationed get hit with 1000 rounds per day . The UN does admit 25% of its troops are also corrupt.  I wondered if the placement of the Jordanians was more to do with the state of the Brazilian troops and Caribbean connections. The report does not go into which troops are corrupt and why the Jordanians are in Cite Soleil. The more you know, the more questions you have.

--2006, "Commandant Bibi" puts down his weapons. In Creole.
--2007: 7 minutes, in Creole. Evans Ti Couteau, notorious gang leader, arrested. News anchor, then ETC gives a press conference while keeping his hands folded on top of his head for three minutes, then the prison view, then police spokesman.

Web Sites:
Creole Dictionary--at Another one, at, has been compromised.

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