Locals are reacting with surprise and dismay to the news that Prime
Minister Gaston Browne has made a commitment to send to military
contingent to Haiti to help restore law and order there.
Reports say that members of the Defence Force will join personnel
from Jamaica and The Bahamas and, collectively, they will assist a
1,000-member strong force from Kenya. The mission reportedly
will be backed by the United States of America through a US$100
The number of local soldiers going to the French-speaking country
has not yet been determined, according to the Prime Minister’s
Office. However, a statement from the Office says that Browne is
committed to finding a solution to the problems facing Haiti.
Since the assassination of Haiti’s president in 2021, areas of the
capital city, Port au Prince – which has a population of 1.2 million
–have become war zones dominated by violent gangs. News and
videos coming out of that country have reported and depicted brutal
attacks and bloodshed on the streets that have left civilians terrified.
Several persons tell REAL News that Browne – with his offer of
assistance – appears to “have forgotten that charity begins at home.”
Others say that, with his shine fading fast at home, the prime
minister is seeking relevance on the regional and international
“What happened to the gross disorder here?” a very upset woman is
asking. “Fix here fuss!” she demands of Browne.
She tells REAL News that, currently in Haiti, there is no law or rules
and that cutlasses and guns are the order of the day. Accordingly,
she says, “no prisoners will be taken. [The rebels[ will just kill …
fight to the death.”
Given the situation, she believes that Browne ought not involve
locals in Haiti’s affairs. “Who is Antigua and Barbuda Defence
Force?” she asks. “Lambs going to their slaughter?”
The woman, who has several brothers, believes the soldiers would
be better off deployed at home, “guarding the schools and patrolling
the dark streets here.”
Other residents agree. They believe that a military presence is
needed on the streets from Monday to Friday to serve as a deterrent
to the violence playing out among school children.
One father says he is quite aware that the Defence Force and the
Police have different responsibilities. However, he says, the current
youth violence calls for an “extraordinary response” from the
Administration, and the soldiers need to join the Police to keep the
He notes that a recent attack on a young man by school children –
reportedly between 11 and 15 years old – turned fatal when the
victim died without regaining consciousness. And he also refers to
the previous sexual assault on an adult woman, again by young boys.
Other persons have responded to PM Browne’s offer with laughter.
“If they can’t manage crime in little Antigua, how they going to
manage in a place like Haiti?” one man asks with amusement.
“It was bad enough that they sent officers off to St. Lucia the other
day,” his companion says. “And look at what’s going on right here in
the meantime: Old people and young people going missing.
Unsolved killings. Rapes. House-breakings … .
“The citizens are dealing with all these things on their own,” she
complains. “No help from the commissioner, no help from Cutie
“What Haiti? The prime minister needs to keep the soldiers right
here!” she declares.