Roving gangs have gained power throughout Haiti over the past 15 months in the wake of former President Jovenel Moïse’s assassination, blockading essential ports and terrorizing citizens who are increasingly in need of basic supplies like food and medicine.
The Biden administration announced this week that it will deploy security assistance to Haiti’s National Police and issue visa restrictions on Haitian officials involved with gangs.
The move falls short of “a specialized armed force” that Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry requested from the international community, an action that U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., says is necessary to prevent a mass exodus from Haiti that could overwhelm America’s already untenable migrant crisis.
“Wait until there’s mass starvation – there’s going to be wholesale emptying of that island, and they’re going to be coming across the straits, they’re going to be coming through Mexico, they’re going to be coming to our border,” Sen. Cassidy told Fox News Digital.
“Now, we can either ignore that – and if we do, we’re going to have more immigration than we even have now, and there will be starvation, and there’ll be Haitians drowning in the straits of Florida – or we can attempt to address it.”
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Haitians have already fled the island in record numbers in recent months, as the Coast Guard has interdicted more than 7,100 migrants in the Florida Straits, a more than four-fold jump from the 1,527 Haitians who were stopped in all of 2021.
While many of these migrants are undoubtedly seeking safety and stability, some members of the violent gangs currently terrorizing the country could be swept into the flow, raising troubling parallels to the origins of Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13.
That infamous gang was born out of Salvadoran migrants who settled in Los Angeles during the 1980s after fleeing their country’s civil war. Four decades later, MS-13 has an estimated 10,000 members in the United States and tens of thousands more around the world.
“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it sure has a rhythm, and you think there might be a rhythm there,” Sen. Cassidy said.
“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it sure has a rhythm, and you think there might be a rhythm there.”
“Right now, the gangs are stealing rice shipments, but once there are no rice shipments, there won’t be anything to steal, and they will be hungry as well, and so we can expect them to leave after they’ve destroyed the country.”
Approximately 200 gangs are currently active in Haiti, controlling large parts of the capital of Port-au-Prince and seizing critical infrastructure, such as the country’s main Varreux fuel terminal.
One gang, known as 400 Mawozo, kidnapped 16 Christian missionaries nearly one year ago on Oct. 16, 2021, but they eventually all escaped captivity by December.
The leader of the 400 Mawozo gang, 29-year-old Joly Germine, was indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice in May on charges of conspiracy to commit hostage taking.
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Fulfilling the prime minister’s request for an international peacekeeping force may be necessary to restore order in Haiti and prevent an influx of these violent gangs into the U.S., according to Sen. Cassidy.
“It should be an international force. Ideally, it would be coming out of Latin America – Mexico and Chile and Colombia – countries which currently are not involved internationally to the degree that we are, but hopefully have solidarity with a Western hemispheric neighbor,” Sen. Cassidy said.
“First, you’ve got to create a security zone – period, end of story. Until there’s a security zone, nothing else works. That’s really step one, and then after that, you work from there.”
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A Biden administration official told reporters on Wednesday that it was “premature” to consider “a U.S. security presence,” but the situation in Haiti is growing more dire by the day.
Nearly half of the Haitian population, 4.5 million people, are experiencing hunger, and 1.3 million people are experiencing extreme food insecurity, according to Theresa Piorr, a spokesperson for the United Nations’ World Food Program based in Haiti.
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“In less than a year, the price of the basic food basket has increased by more than half. The price of petrol has doubled. Inflation stands at 31 percent – the highest it’s been in recent years – and it’s expected to rise further,” Piorr told Fox News Digital.
“The situation in Haiti today has sadly reached new levels of desperation.”