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Haiti: Experts: Failures of Haiti institutions laid bare amid rising violence

On a bright Sunday during the Easter season that dawned thoughts of renewal, rebirth and resurrection, worshippers gathered at Saint Jacques Catholic Church in Croix-des-Bouquets for services. But the April 11 service was interrupted when gang members stormed into the sanctuary and kidnapped 10 people, including seven clergy members. 

The brazen act struck deep concern into the hearts of not only the faithful in Haiti, but among observers worldwide. 

For many people in Haiti, like Marie, 24, of Croix-des-Bouquets, the church kidnapping signaled a new level in the gang violence Haiti has seen in the last year.

“Nobody is at peace,” said Marie. “Not even in your own home. You never know when someone will decide to bust open your door.” 

The Haitian Times is withholding Marie’s full name so she does not become a target of retribution. Summarizing a sentiment running rampant throughout Haiti, Marie said, “I’m scared of going out, [I] feel like my life is being threatened, and I worry so much for my safety.” 

For Haiti-based media blogger Jean Junior Joseph, the recent spate of kidnapping incidents at churches reflects the increasing boldness of Haiti’s gangs. A press secretary to former Prime Minister Gerard Latortue, Joseph said Haiti’s current state of insecurity is similar to the two-year period surrounding the second ouster of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. 

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