Blinken to Visit Caribbean Amid Growing Haiti Crisis

( – US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has met with Caribbean leaders in Jamaica as violence spirals out of control in Haiti. The meeting did not include Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who is under pressure to resign as armed gangs take control of the capital, Port-au-Prince. Protestors have demanded Henry’s resignation for months, and Caricom, a regional trade bloc, has called for a transitional government to prepare for elections.

Brian Nichols, the US Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs, said, “The international community must work together with Haitians toward a peaceful political transition.”

Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley indicated that a political solution may be some distance away and called for the formation of a council to identify a transitional Prime Minister.

Following the emergency meeting, Ariel Henry announced his resignation and said he would stand down after a legitimate replacement is identified. The 74-year-old neurosurgeon went to Puerto Rico after traveling to Africa to seek support in quelling the violence. “I’m asking all Haitians to remain calm and do everything they can for peace and stability,” Mr. Henry said in a filmed statement.

Attendees at the Jamaican meeting concluded that a Presidential Council will be established. It will comprise civil leaders, religious figures, and business representatives. It is tasked with naming an interim leader until elections can be held.

The Haitian government declared a state of emergency on March 3, while observers reported that 80% of the capital city, Port-au-Prince, was under the control of violent gangs. Charities report an impending humanitarian crisis and the displacement of thousands seeking refuge in abandoned buildings.

The state of emergency declaration came after the gangs ransacked prisons, allowing almost 4,000 convicted prisoners back onto the city’s streets. Police stations were also bombarded, and on-the-ground observers say dozens of officers were murdered. The gangs are led by Jimmy Chérizier, also known as “Barbecue,” who says he is fighting for the impoverished people of Haiti and demands the end of Ariel Henry’s leadership.

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