US Government Charters Flight to Air Lift Americans Out of Haiti

( – The first US rescue flight has departed Haiti for Florida, carrying 47 people. The US State Department announced the departure of the chartered flight from Cap-Haïtien, around five hours from the capital, Port-au-Prince. Since the Caribbean nation descended into chaos in February, around 80% of it has been under the control of violent gangs. All 47 passengers are believed to be American citizens, and the plane landed in Miami International on Sunday, March 17.

The State Department says there may be hundreds more US citizens in Haiti, where American troops were recently deployed to secure the US embassy and evacuate personnel.

The violence began in February as protestors demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Ariel Henry. Notorious gang leader Jimmy Cherizier, known as “Barbecue,” emerged as leader and, for a period, was described by some local reporters as the most powerful man in the country.

Cherizier leads a gang called G9, whereas his primary rival, Gabriel Jean-Pierre, is head of G-Pep, based in the capital. Both groups are accused of mass murder and rape in their respective areas, and according to Cherizier, they formed a pact in late 2023 and agreed to put their differences aside and focus on driving Mr. Henry out of office.

On March 4, the government declared a state of emergency, and Henry resigned from office days later. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken joined a meeting of Caribbean leaders in Jamaica, which decided to create an interim committee charged with appointing a government until new elections are arranged.

In the latest developments, reporters say the violence has spread and is now impacting the wealthier regions of Port-au-Prince. Rioters looted in the upmarket areas of Laboule and Thomassin, both of which had previously avoided the escalating violence. Residents fled as bodies were strewn across the streets, and some gangs rejected the proposal of an interim committee. At the same time, it became clear that Mr. Henry’s resignation would not stem the violence.

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