Where In The World Is Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry?

Burnt-out vehicles are shown in front of the police station at Carrefour de l'Aeroport, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, March 5, 2024 after it was torched by armed individuals controlled by gang leader Jimmy "Barbecue." Clarens Siffroy/AFP
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Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry arrived in Puerto Rico Tuesday after his private plane that took off in the US was denied entry into the Dominican Republic for reasons that are unrevealed.

The fact that Mr Henry seems to have been turned away from the nation he leads is a sign of just how dysfunctional Haiti has become in recent days.

If it was not already, Haiti is now perilously close to becoming a failed state.

 

Ariel Henry’s plane was forced to divert to Puerto Rico – a US territory – after it was denied entry to Haiti and the Dominican Republic, local news sites reported.

The Dominican Republic on Tuesday announced it was closing its airspace with neighbouring Haiti, with which it shares the island of Hispaniola.

The country’s leader, Luis Abinader, recently said measures would be taken to ensure a level of “peace and control” was maintained at its land border.

Several reasons may explain why Mr Henry’s plane was not allowed to land in Haiti – it may simply have been procedural.

Since a state of emergency was imposed on Sunday, all flights have been cancelled until further notice and the airport in the capital Port-au-Prince is, in essence, closed.

The other reason may be for his own safety. Mr Henry would be a clear target for the gangs who are demanding that he step down, and his return at this point may simply be deemed more of a hinderance to the nation’s stability, than a help.

The Associated Press says the Dominican Republic, which shares the island Hispaniola with Haiti, announced it was closing all air traffic with its violence-racked neighbor hours earlier.

Prime Minister Henry left Haiti last week on a mission to the South American nation of Guyana and the west African nation of Kenya to gain support for the deployment of a multinational United Nations peacekeeping force to Haiti, which has been plagued by brutal gang violence in the capital, Port-au-Prince, and beyond.

The gangs used Henry’s absence to attack the National Penitentiary and another prison in Port-au-Prince, killing several people and allowing thousands of inmates to escape into the city. Gangs also staged shooting attacks on Haiti’s main airport.

Jimmy “Barbecue” Cherizier, the leader of an alliance of gangs that staged last week’s attacks, told reporters Tuesday that the gangs would not allow Henry to return to Haiti and urged him to resign.

The government has declared a state of emergency and a nighttime curfew.

Haiti has been mired in violence since the 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moise, with street gangs engaging in kidnappings and murders while taking over large parts of the country.

Henry, who leads an interim government, was scheduled to step down in February, but delayed elections due the worsening security situation and a political stalemate with opposition forces.

Port-au-Prince has been “handed to the gangs” who are continuing their assaults on police stations in the capital, Occil Francisco, a spokesperson for police union Synapoha told CNN Tuesday.

At least eight police stations in Port-au-Prince “have been lost” in gang attacks, he said.

The police academy, which holds more than 780 officers in training, was also under attack by men associated with gang leader Vitel’Homme Innocent, he said.

The police union is urging officials to reinforce the “operational and reactive capacity” of the national police force so they can provide security for civilians, he said.

If Henry cannot fly directly into riotous Haiti, and is not permitted to land in the neighbouring Domininican Republic where he can cross the land border, then the only alternative would be to arrive by sea.

Source: VOA.
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