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Taking back control: Relabel Haiti’s status to marshall better support

Dictionary definitions of “gang” say it’s “a group of people acting together to do something illegal.” But as “gangs” are blamed for the rampant violence, turf wars and armies of young men toting automatic rifles around Haiti, some observers have suggested that these groups should be categorized under more serious terms. Doing so, they said, could be the starting point to address — in more realistic ways — the devastation those groups have wrought in Haiti.

Georges A. Fauriol, a senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), suggests that Haiti may soon be better referred to as a “criminalized state,” a concept described by strategic researchers Douglas Farah and Marianne Richardson in a May, 2022 paper titled  “Gangs No More.” 

Writing for the Institute for National Strategic Studies, Farah and Richardson label El Salvador a criminalized state in which groups, no longer gangs but community-embedded transnational armed groups (CETAGs), are becoming more deeply entangled in the global drug trade and armed conflicts in the hemisphere as well as the surrounding states.


As the violence on Haiti’s streets attributable to “gangs” reaches unprecedented levels, The Haitian Times digs into four answers to the question so many Haitians ask — “How do we get rid of these gangs?” This installment provides a view of why and how redefining Haiti’s formal status as a state might unlock more support, including new investments, to wrest the country from gangs.

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