In Haiti, as the number of murders soar and kidnappings rise, even the police are fleeing.
With no elected president in office and a prime minister widely seen as illegitimate, calls for the government’s ouster are now being heard from an unlikely source: a brigade of armed officers ostensibly responsible for protecting environmentally sensitive areas.
Armed uniformed members of the brigade clashed with government forces in northern Haiti this week, heightening tensions in an already volatile nation where gangs have seized control over large swaths of the capital, Port-au-Prince, and are wreaking havoc in rural areas.
The environmental group, the Brigade for the Security of Protected Areas (known as B-SAP), became angry after the prime minister fired its leader. On Wednesday, the group’s officers attempted to invade the local customs office, and Haitian National Police units repelled them using tear gas.
Just as worrisome to analysts is the allegiance some of the group’s leaders have publicly declared to Guy Philippe, a former police commander and coup-plotter who recently returned to Haiti after serving six years in a U.S. federal prison.
In the less than 60 days since Mr. Philippe returned home, he has been traveling the country, shoring up support for his so-called revolution.