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U.S. lawmakers call for sanctions on Haitian gangs and 'warlords'

Politics Sep 29, 2022 12:36PM ET
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A man walks between road blocks set up by gangs after they waged intense gun battles, shuttering main avenues and a municipal market in the downtown area of the capital, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti July 27, 2022. REUTERS/Ralph Tedy Erol/File Phot

By Brian Ellsworth

(Reuters) - Two U.S. lawmakers on Thursday said the United States should sanction Haitian gangs and those who help finance them, as the Caribbean nation remains gripped by a gang blockade that has caused increasingly dire fuel shortages.

Gregory Meeks and Michael McCaul, during a hearing of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, said the United States should take action against the gangs, which now control vast portions of Haiti's territory.

"That's something we have to start looking at - sanctions against the gang leaders, and those who are financing the gangs and those who are sending the weapons," said Meeks, a Democrat and chair of the committee.

Gangs in Haiti this month blocked the exits to the country's main fuel terminal in response to Prime Minister Ariel Henry's announcement of an increase in fuel prices, leading to critical shortages of gasoline and diesel.

Day-to-day activities have ground to a halt in Haiti, with key services including hospitals facing closure for lack of fuel to power generators.

"I would very much be in favor of a measure to punish - we call them oligarchs, they're really warlords - controlling the gangs and depriving any sense of governance in Haiti," said McCaul, the committee's top Republican.

The congressmen did not name specific gang members or financiers or explain how such sanctions would work. It is not clear how much gang leaders use the official financial system to move or store money.

Decisions on U.S. sanctions are typically made by the executive branch rather than by Congress.

The United Nations Security Council has discussed a resolution to sanction Haitian gangs.

The hearing included testimony by Haitian civil society leaders who described the effects of gang violence, corruption and poverty.

"I ask for support to impose sanctions on high profile individuals involved in corruption and supporting and facilitating gang violence in Haiti," said activist Velina Charlier.

"And by high profile individuals, I clearly mean the ones in the politics ... and the oligarchs, the business sector."

U.S. lawmakers call for sanctions on Haitian gangs and 'warlords'
 

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Comments (2)
Jack Peterson
Jack Peterson Sep 30, 2022 7:50AM ET
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Public Safety has been and always will be #1. Until our political leaders get that back in their heads this is what happens and will continue to happen.. wake up! Have you ever been robbed? Maybe not, but guess how it feels…
lakes Tenn
lakes Tenn Sep 29, 2022 1:32PM ET
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but they do nothing about the crime and gangs in the US. pathetic
Tre Hsi
Tre Hsi Sep 29, 2022 1:32PM ET
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maybe it's because people like you calling them peaceful protesting patriots?
 
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