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Inside Haiti’s Spiraling Political Crisis

The convergence of gang violence and a cholera outbreak have fueled a humanitarian disaster.

By , a reporter at Foreign Policy.
Haitians protest a government request for international military force.
Haitians protest a government request for international military force.
Demonstrators protest to reject an international military force requested by the government in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Oct. 24. RICHARD PIERRIN/AFP via Getty Images

Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, where we’re looking at Haiti’s spiraling political crisis, Jair Bolsonaro’s remarks on Brazil’s runoff results, and Benjamin Netanyahu’s comeback in Israel’s election. 

If you would like to receive Morning Brief in your inbox every weekday, please sign up here.


Haiti Faces Spiraling Political Crisis 

Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, where we’re looking at Haiti’s spiraling political crisis, Jair Bolsonaro’s remarks on Brazil’s runoff results, and Benjamin Netanyahu’s comeback in Israel’s election

If you would like to receive Morning Brief in your inbox every weekday, please sign up here.


Haiti Faces Spiraling Political Crisis 

Nearly 100,000 Haitians have fled their homes as gangs overtake Port-au-Prince, according to the United Nations, while the country grapples with a cholera outbreak and painful inflation that have all converged in a spiraling crisis. 

Gangs, which now run as much as 60 percent of the Haitian capital, have waged a brutal campaign against civilians that includes weaponizing sexual violence and kidnappings. They have also impeded the entry of fuel supplies, imperiling crucial medical services and further straining a population already confronting food insecurity and a cholera resurgence. 

Haiti is “on the edge of collapse,” Bocchit Edmond, Haiti’s ambassador to the United States, told CNN. As many as 100,000 children that are less than 5 years old suffer from severe acute malnutrition, according to UNICEF, while the country’s most vulnerable households lack access to drinking water

The country’s current caretaker prime minister, Ariel Henry, entered power after former President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated in July 2021, pitching the country deeper into political uncertainty

“Moïse’s death left an inescapable power vacuum,” Jonathan M. Katz writes in Foreign Policy. “In the streets, the power vacuum has been filled by the gangs, particularly [Haitian Nation Police officer Jimmy] Chérizier’s G9 alliance, which among other things now controls access to the country’s main fuel port.”

As the crisis deepened in October, Henry called for a “specialized armed force” from global partners, although his plea has come up against resistance in both Haiti and the United States, which experts say would be crucial to the execution of such a plan, FP’s Catherine Osborn writes in Latin America Brief. 

The United Nations Security Council has passed a sanctions package against prominent gang leaders, although the likelihood of a foreign armed force remains unclear. Washington has reportedly supported the notion of international military support but has so far avoided making a firm commitment


What We’re Following Today

Bolsonaro speaks out. After remaining silent for two days, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro finally addressed the results of Brazil’s election on Tuesday. Although he did not explicitly admit defeat, he said he would obey the constitution while his chief of staff confirmed that a transfer of power would take place. 

Bolsonaro worded his remarks in a way to appease two different bases, said Oliver Stuenkel, an associate professor at the Getúlio Vargas Foundation in São Paulo. “[R]adical followers who think [former President Luiz Ignácio Lula da Silva] stole the election feel Bolsonaro confirmed their beliefs, but his more moderate allies also feel Bolsonaro will not mess with the transition,” Stuenkel tweeted

Israel’s election. Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appears poised for a comeback. Exit polls suggest that his right-wing bloc—which includes the controversial far-right Religious Zionism alliance—will win a narrow majority in the 120-seat Knesset. With approximately 85 percent of the votes counted, his bloc has 65 seats, but that number could shrink if smaller left-wing and Arab parties clear the 3.25 percent electoral threshold.

Networks predict that the Netanyahu-led bloc will secure at least 61 or 62 seats. Caretaker Prime Minister Yair Lapid has not conceded and has urged patience as all votes are counted. Shalom Lipner, a former advisor to Netanyahu and other Israeli prime ministers, warned in Foreign Policy that Netanyahus choice to join forces with the far right could imperil Israels relations with its closest allies.

Denmark’s Social Democrats hold on. Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen won a narrow victory in a tight election. Her center-left coalition secured 90 seats in the 179-seat Folketing. But the vote could mark a turning point in Danish politics; Frederiksen floated the idea of a national unity government during the campaign, and there is a possibility of a broad-based centrist government—including former Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussens new Moderate party, which won 16 seats—if Frederiksen chooses to move to the center rather than relying on the support of smaller left-wing parties.


Keep an Eye On

North Korea’s threats. North Korea launched 23 missiles on Wednesday, just a day after threatening the United States and South Korea over their joint military drills. The South Korean military responded by launching three missiles.

Pakistan’s flood recovery. The majority of people who were displaced by Pakistan’s devastating floods have now been able to go back to their homes, Pakistani authorities announced on Tuesday. Although half a million flood victims lived in camps in Sindh—a heavily impacted Pakistani province—in September, now under 50,000 people remain, officials said. 

Norway ramps up security. Norway increased its military alert status on Tuesday as it scrambles to respond to surging drone activity around the country’s critical infrastructure. Last month, authorities also detained seven Russians for guiding the devices and taking photos of certain sites. 

Critical infrastructure in Europe’s northern waters is especially vulnerable to attack and sabotage, as FP’s Amy Mackinnon and I reported. “Seventy percent of all energy in the world is either found at sea or moves by sea, and 93 percent of all data in the world moves by undersea cables,” said Bruce Jones, a senior fellow with the Brookings Institution. “We have very limited protections for either of those things.”


Tuesdays Most Read

Why Isn’t Russia a Democracy? by Lucian Kim

Olaf Scholz Has a China Problem by Thorsten Benner

Haiti’s Elites Keep Calling for the U.S. Marines by Jonathan M. Katz

Update, Nov. 2, 2022: The number of missiles North Korea fired on Wednesday as of 10:32 a.m. ET has been updated.

Christina Lu is a reporter at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @christinafei

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