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Escalating Haiti gang violence chaos could trigger deployment of Marine security team

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Fox News Digital has learned the U.S. State Department is requesting that the Marines deploy a security team to Haiti as gang violence continues to spiral into chaos. 

“We have no higher priority than the safety and security of U.S. citizens overseas,” a U.S. State Department spokesperson said. “We are constantly monitoring the political and security situation and will take steps as circumstances warrant.”

“The U.S. Embassy remains open with limited staffing and will continue to provide assistance to U.S. citizens as necessary. We are committed to working toward our objectives in Haiti, which include bringing security, stability, and prosperity to the Haitian people.”

“U.S. citizens wishing to depart Port-au-Prince should monitor local news and information on security conditions from commercial transportation providers and should arrange to leave Haiti when security conditions and commercial transportation options permit doing so,” the spokesperson added. 

HAITI EXTENDS A STATE OF EMERGENCY AND NIGHTTIME CURFEW TO TRY AND REPEL WIDESPREAD GANG ATTACKS

A state department official told Fox News Digital that individuals seeking information “should continue to use the phone number and email address listed on the Embassy website.”

US Embassy Haiti

In July 2023, scores of Haitians living in the Clercine neighborhood near the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince sought refuge from escalating gang violence by camping out in the courtyard of the facility. (Miami Herald/Contributor via Getty Images)

A defense official originally told Marine Corps Times that an antiterrorism security team was deployed to Haiti this week – but issued a correction on Friday, admitting that he had misunderstood the status of the mission or what personnel were involved. Questions remain about the status of any such mission, and the Pentagon said it will continue assessing its options.

“At this time, we are exploring our contingency options to ensure the security of our personnel at our embassy in Haiti,” a Pentagon spokesperson told Fox News Digital, stressing that “No decisions have been made.”

‘ROYAL FAMILY’ OF HAITI GANG THAT KIDNAPPED AMERICAN MISSIONAIRES TAKEN DOWN BY FEDS BEFORE JAILBREAK BATTLE

Maj. Mason Englehart, a spokesman for Marine Corps Forces South told Fox News Digital that the the Marines have no plans to deploy a FAST platoon, which conducts “rapid worldwide deployments to provide security to vital national assets,” including U.S. embassies. 

“While no decision has been made, the Department of Defense is working with the state department on exploring options to ensure the security of our personnel at the U.S. Embassy in Haiti,” Englehart said. 

Ariel Henry Haiti

Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry gives a public lecture at the United States International University (USIU) in Nairobi, Kenya, Friday March. 1, 2024. (AP Photo/Andrew Kasuku)

Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry assumed power in 2021 after the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise. Henry’s predecessor, Claude Joseph, initially took over as acting president, but just months later agreed to step down and take the role of Minister of Foreign Affairs. 

The country has failed to hold elections and choose a proper new president, and a meeting of Caribbean leaders in Guyana last week decided on a mid-2025 deadline to try and hold elections again. 

GANGS IN HAITI TRY TO SEIZE CONTROL OF MAIN AIRPORT IN NEWEST ATTACK ON KEY GOVERNMENT SITES

Henry departed Haiti last week to attend the meeting and then travel on to Kenya to make a last-minute bid for the East African countries to resurrect an international coalition of police who would deploy Haiti to help install order. On his return, he found himself effectively locked out of Haiti.

Henry planned to fly to the Dominican Republic, but the Dominican government announced it had suspended all air traffic with Haiti, forcing Henry to travel instead to Puerto Rico as he sought to return to his country. Jimmy Chérizier, a former elite police officer who leads a federation of gangs that have claimed responsibility for the attacks, has repeatedly warned that Henry will not be allowed to return to the country. 

Gangs president Haiti

Armed gang leader Jimmy “Barbecue” Cherizier and his men are seen in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, March 5, 2024.  (Clarens Siffroy/AFP via Getty Images))

“Our goal is to break the system,” Chérizier told reporters at an impromptu conference in a slum in Port-au-Prince. “We are fighting against Ariel with the last drop of our blood.”

The U.S. Embassy in Haiti has issued a number of security alerts warning that its office would conduct limited operations and cancel all appointments through Mar. 12. The embassy declared a state of emergency and has strongly urged Americans: “Do not travel to Haiti.” 

Jimmy Cherizier Haiti

Graphic content/Gang leader Jimmy “Barbecue” Cherizier speaks into his phone before a mission, as two of his men watch, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, March 5, 2024.  (Clarens Siffroy/AFP via Getty Images)

The embassy cited “gang-related violence and its effects on transportation and infrastructure” as the greatest concerns for continued services. 

“Persons with scheduled appointments should NOT attempt to come to the Embassy until further notice; conditions may not allow the U.S. Embassy to admit persons who arrive through March 12,” the embassy wrote. 

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“At this time, the U.S. Embassy is not able to facilitate air travel for private citizens,” the embassy warned. “U.S. citizens are advised to regularly monitor our webpage for Alerts which may include updates on options to depart Haiti.”

“We also recommend consulting with commercial carriers who operate flights into and out of Haiti, and travel agencies,” the notice continued. “Private carriers and many travel agencies provide timely information on available options to depart the country.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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