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In Haiti, “gangs” reside where caring for community and corruption collide

From the Chimè to 400 Mawozo, neighborhood gangs often provide basics and protection, complicating efforts to abate violence

Gang members
Gang members patrol the street holding guns six months after a massacre in the La Saline slum of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, May 31, 2019. ( Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)
The Haitian Times  www.haitiantimes.com  By Onz CheryCAP-HAITIEN — After Jameson Davilma’s mother died from an illness when he was 13, the boy often counted on neighbors near his Cité Soleil home to survive. Sometimes, usually late at night, a neighbor might send him on en errand to buy food. Only then would Davilma have a bite from what the neighbor shared.“Sometimes, I cried when I got hungry,” Davilma, now 30, recalls. “I’d wake up and couldn’t find even a piece of bread or a little coffee. I’d spent the whole morning with no food — couldn’t even buy a small marinad. Then by noon, my stomach was filled with gas.”At the time, in 2005, a group of thugs who called themselves the “chimè” often hung out outside of their homes in Citè Soleil. Known as vociferous supporters of then-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the thugs also helped residents of the slum.
Overview:
With many residents turning to neighborhood groups for basic services where Haiti’s government has failed, gangs are empowered, filling a leadership vacuum and fueling the country’s long cycle of violence and repression.To view the full story, please subscribe to The Haitian Times. You can choose a $60 Annual Subscription or a $5 Weekly Pass.When you join The Haitian Times family, you’ll get unlimited digital access to high-quality journalism about Haiti and Haitians you won’t get anywhere else. We’ve been at this for 20 years and pride ourselves on representing you, our diaspora experience and a holistic view of Haiti that larger media doesn’t show you.Join now or renew to get: — Instant access to one-of-kind stories and special reports — Local news from our communities (especially New York and Florida) — Profiles of Haitians at the top of their fields — Downloadable lists and resources about Haitian culture — Membership merch, perks and special invitationsFirst-time subscribers also receive a special welcome gift handmade in Haiti by expert artisans! Do it for the culture and support Black-owned businesses. 
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