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Revisiting Haiti’s Gangs and Organized Violence

Though a preoccupation with organized violence has dominated much of the discourse on politics and development in Haiti, little research exists on Haiti’s urban gangs and insurgent groups. This paper examines urban gangs through intensive field research conducted over a number of years with both members of armed groups and residents of areas in which they operate. Drawing on a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods, the paper sets out to examine whether Haiti ́s gang-related violence constitutes a “war” using criteria embedded in the Geneva Conventions. Advancing the debate, this study finds that there are surprising convergences in the views and experiences of armed group members and Haitian civilians.