American Priest Brokers Truce Between Four Rival Gangs In Haiti

Photo by RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP via Getty Images

Matthew Nielsen Contributor
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A Catholic priest from Philadelphia has succeeded with words where both Haitian and international military action have failed — curbing the excessive violence and gang wars in the slums of the capital Port-au-Prince.

Four major gangs within Port-au-Prince’s Brooklyn neighborhood have agreed to a ceasefire following the mediation of Father Tom Hagan, who has lived and worked in Haiti for decades, ABC6 Philadelphia reported. The Brooklyn district has been known as a hotbed of violence, with many gangs regularly employing AR and AK pattern rifles. A UN report stated that “gangs used M16, M14, M4, Galil, T65, Negev and Kalashnikov assault rifles, as well as 9mm revolvers and Glock handguns,” adding that some gang members “also had precision rifles with sighting aids.”

Following the Father Hogan’s mediation, however, four rival gang leaders, known as “Gabriel,” “Mathias,” “Iska” and “Barbecue,” signed a document thats states, “[w]e promise our loving God to work hard to end violence, to bring peace to all people,” the Miami Herald reported. While the signatories did not explicitly agree to an immediate end to violence, the gangs have initiated a ceasefire that has seen major barricades between rival territories removed over the last few days.

Father Hagan further told the Miami Herald that “[p]eople were out at the wharf Cité Soleil 25. People were swimming [and] there is no shooting,” adding that “[p]eople seem to really pick up … they seemed so happy.” The small island nation has lingered in the grip of gang violence for over three years, and calls for international intervention have stepped up in recent weeks. Father Hagan echoed those calls to the Miami Herald, arguing, “[w]e need someone who maybe would have a stronger presence.”

This development comes two weeks after Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry met with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to discuss international intervention. During their discussion, Secretary Blinken reaffirmed America’s commitment to  support “efforts to build security forces that ensure that the state has a monopoly on the use of force and provide security for the Haitian people.”