US Marine Anti-Terrorism Unit Sent to Haiti To Protect the Embassy From Gangs

( – Violence in Haiti is at a dangerously high level. Last summer, the State Department ordered all Americans to leave the island, including non-emergency personnel at the US Embassy.

On March 13, US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) issued a statement announcing the Department of State had requested US military help the weekend prior. The military deployed the US Marine Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team (FAST) to secure the US Embassy in Port-au-Prince.

The FAST team relieved another team of Marines who were already at the embassy. They are there to ensure the Americans who are working to provide services for US citizens in Haiti are safe. There’s been an increase in violence around the embassy because of the gangs in the country.

There is no elected president in the country at the moment. Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who recently said he would resign, postponed the elections indefinitely in 2021. The prime minister was selected by President Jovenel Moïse two days before he was assassinated. Claude Joseph succeeded Moïse, but he yielded his power to Henry.

Henry was forced to resign by the gangs after they refused to let him re-enter Haiti following a trip to the African continent, where he was trying to secure help to make the country safer.

The gang violence is also being attributed to the trafficking of a large amount of weapons into the country from the US. According to a report, experts have blamed lax gun laws in states like Florida for the dangerous arsenals the gangs have accumulated. Robert Muggah, founder of the security think tank the Igarapé Institute, said straw purchasers often buy the weapons on behalf of smugglers.

Muggah explained, “Easily accessible firearms from the US are one of several factors that are deepening Haiti’s instability.”

It’s not clear how many Americans are currently in Haiti. The State Department asked them to evacuate last year, but some people have deep ties to the nation because their families live there. The US government has advised against travel to the country for now, and President Joe Biden’s administration is preparing for a potential influx of refugees who are trying to flee the violence.

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