Gangs in Haiti attack the National Palace

The main public square in Port-au-Prince witnessed violent clashes between gangs and the police, while the prime minister is in Puerto Rico.

Suspected criminals were killed by the Haitian National Police during an attack on the National Palace in Port-au-Prince on Friday night, orchestrated by the armed coalition “Vivre Ensemble,” led by former police officer Jimmy Cherizier, alias “Barbecue,” considered the most powerful gang leader in Haiti.

The assailants attempted to set fire to the Ministry of the Interior building but were ambushed by police officers. At least five vehicles parked at the location and the electric generator of the ministry’s building were set ablaze.

The main public square in Port-au-Prince, near the National Palace, witnessed violent confrontations, creating a tense atmosphere throughout the night.

Authorities have not issued any statements regarding these attacks, which add to others executed by gangs against public and private institutions in recent days.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ariel Henry, whom criminal gangs are attempting to overthrow, has been in Puerto Rico since last Tuesday, after trying to return to his country following several days of unknown whereabouts.

Tension and violence in the Central American country escalated significantly in the capital after it was revealed on February 28 that Henry had committed to holding elections before the end of August 2025. The violence peaked last Saturday when gangs entered the two main prisons in the capital, allowing over 3,000 prisoners to escape.

The prime minister, the highest authority in the country after the 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moise, is now under pressure both within Haiti and internationally to support a political transition that addresses the acute crisis and extreme violence in the island nation.

Just on Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed the matter with Henry. “Blinken expressed support for a proposal developed in partnership with the Caribbean Community (Caricom) and Haitian stakeholders to accelerate a political transition through the establishment of a broad-based independent presidential college,” stated the Department of State in a release.

According to U.S. diplomacy, this measure would facilitate Haiti’s progress toward “the deployment of an International Support Mission for Security and free and fair elections.”

“The secretary urged Henry to support this proposal to restore peace and stability in Haiti so that the Haitian people can resume their daily lives free from violence and despair,” the note mentioned.

The violence of armed groups is not new in Haiti, but the current gangs have professionalized and wield more firepower than the police.

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