Factal Forecast

Gang violence plunges Haiti into crisis amid calls for PM’s resignation

March 07, 2024 Episode 133
Factal Forecast
Gang violence plunges Haiti into crisis amid calls for PM’s resignation
Show Notes Transcript

Editors Jimmy Lovaas and Jeff Landset discuss the gang violence wreaking havoc in Haiti, plus more on the Hungarian leader visiting Trump in Florida, two referendums in Ireland, the end of China’s annual parliamentary meeting and the beginning of Ramadan..

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This episode was produced with work from Factal editors Jeff Landset, Joe Veyera, Alex Moore, Vivian Wang and Agnese Boffano. Produced and edited by Jimmy Lovaas with additional writing by Sophie Perryer. Music courtesy of Andrew Gospe.

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Copyright © 2024 Factal. All rights reserved.

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.


Welcome to the Factal Forecast, a look at the week’s biggest stories and what they mean from the editors at Factal. I’m Jimmy Lovaas.

Today is March 7th.

In this week’s forecast we’ve got resurgent violence in Haiti, the Hungarian leader visiting Trump in Florida, two referendums in Ireland, the end of China’s annual parliamentary meeting and the beginning of Ramadan. 

You can also read about these stories and more in our weekly newsletter, which you’ll find a link to in the show notes.

Haiti violence

Information compiled by Jeff Landset

JIMMY: Up first, we’ll take a look at the spiraling violence in Haiti. For more on that I’ve got fellow Factal editor Jeff Landset.

JIMMY: Hello, Jeff. 

JEFF: Hi, Jimmy.

JIMMY: Well, Jeff, there's been a fair bit of news out of Haiti recently and it seems like the violence that's gripped the country for a while now has somehow managed to get worse. What can you tell us about it?

JEFF: Yeah, you know, every time you think you've seen the worst in Haiti it continues to get a little bit worse than that. So it all started late last month when Prime Minister Ariel Henry traveled overseas and has -- he has not been able to return. He hasn't been back to the country since that time. In that time, gangs have basically run rampant through the country, notably in the capital of Port-au-Prince, which the UN estimates that now gangs have control of 80% of. In this time when Henry left, the gangs released thousands of inmates from prisons, they set police stations on fire, and they notably tried to overtake the capital's airport ahead of Henry's return to the country.

JIMMY: And what's the latest? How are things going at the moment?

JEFF: Well, at the moment, things continue to spiral. At this moment that we're recording, Henry is in Puerto Rico and unable to return to the country. So it is a tenuous situation. The police squad in Haiti is overrun at this point by the gangs and they, in some instances, are outmanned and outgunned.

JIMMY: What sort of reactions to the violence have you seen?

JEFF: Well, the kind of impetus of all this is the infamous gang leader, Jimmy Cherizier, aka "Barbecue", a former police officer who has been accused of some major human rights issues even before the time he became a gang leader. He has specifically said that he is trying to get Henry to step out and to step down. There is also international pressure on Henry to either relinquish power or set a concrete date for an election, which he has said that there will be one that takes place in the near future, but no specific date. That stems from the international force that has been convened, and approved by the UN, to send police officers to Haiti to help fight these gangs. So, there's a lot of pressure on Henry to try to fix the situation, but it is very hard to do so when the gangs are keeping him out of the country and the other countries around the world who are trying to help with this don't see a lot of political benefit to try and help this country – that has currently a ton of issues.

JIMMY: Well, considering all that, what do you think folks should be watching for next?

JEFF: So right now, most specifically, watch where is Henry. At the moment he is in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic has actually denied him access to the country. So he is in a bit of a holding pattern, quite literally. His plane literally was not allowed to land anywhere near the country so he is taking refuge in Puerto Rico. If this continues, and he does not see a way back to Haiti safely, he may step down. And if he steps down, the entire government may just collapse and it would become even more lawless than it currently is. Which is hard to imagine, but is well within the realm of possibilities.

JIMMY: Well, Jeff, we’ll pause there for today, but thank you for getting us caught up to speed. I know you'll be keeping a close eye on Haiti for us in the days to come. Appreciate it. 

JEFF: Thanks Jimmy.

Hungarian PM visits Trump

Information compiled by Joe Veyera

JIMMY: Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán will visit former U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday.

Orbán will travel to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in Florida for the meeting.

The two men have become firm allies in recent years, with Trump endorsing Orbán’s 2022 re-election campaign and frequently praising him since leaving office.

Orbán is supporting Trump’s re-election campaign and claims he represents the “only serious chance for peace” in the Russia-Ukraine war.

Both men are united in their skepticism of NATO. Hungary’s parliament even stalled Sweden’s bid to become a member of the bloc for over a year.

Meanwhile, Trump has said he’d give Russia carte blanche to attack member states that don’t hit defense spending targets.

Orbán has also urged Trump to “keep on fighting” in his four ongoing criminal cases.

Two referendums in Ireland on gender and family

Information compiled by Alex Moore

JIMMY: Two referendums will take place in Ireland on Friday on changes to the country’s constitution.

Irish voters will decide on whether to remove archaic language relating to women’s social roles.

They’ll also choose whether to expand the constitutional definition of family.

The votes, which take place on International Women’s Day, are the latest in a string of measures to liberalize Irish society over the past decade.

Other initiatives included legalizing abortion in 2018.

Both referendums are expected to pass, although some supporters say they are largely symbolic, which could affect voter turnout.

End of China’s annual Two Sessions parliamentary meeting

Information compiled by Vivian Wang

JIMMY: China’s annual Two Sessions parliamentary meetings in Beijing will come to an end on Monday.

The gatherings of China’s rubber-stamp legislature and an advisory political body are largely symbolic, as the real power lies with the Chinese Communist Party’s Politburo.

However, the meetings are an important venue for China to set its political and economic agenda for the year ahead.

The country’s sluggish economy is top of the agenda this year, caused by weak domestic spending, stalled exports and a property market crash.

Investors will be keeping a close eye on more announcements from the government to boost confidence in China’s finances, while political analysts will be on the lookout for any clues on the state of geopolitical tensions with the United States. 

Ramadan begins

Information compiled by Agnese Boffano

JIMMY: The Muslim Holy month of Ramadan begins on Sunday.

The majority of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims will fast daily from sunrise to sunset and perform other rituals for the month-long sacred period.

In Israel, the government will restrict access to the al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem, the third holiest site for Muslims.

The government says this is for security reasons, but they’ve faced major international backlash due to higher tensions around the city during Ramadan.

Restrictions were also in force in 2023, and Israeli police responded with tear gas, beatings and intense raids on anyone who protested.

It’s still unclear whether a ceasefire will come into force in Gaza before the start of Ramadan.

Negotiations are ongoing in Paris and a Hamas delegation is in Cairo for talks.

However, a number of issues remain outstanding including the question of releasing further Israeli hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners.

JIMMY: As always, thank you for listening to the Factal Forecast. We publish our forward-looking podcast and newsletter each Thursday to help you get a jump-start on the week ahead. Please subscribe and review wherever you find your podcasts. We’d love it if you’d consider telling a friend about us.  

Today’s episode was produced with work from Factal editors Joe Veyera, Alex Moore, Vivian Wang and Agnese Boffano. Our interview featured editor Jeff Landset and our podcast is produced and edited by me – Jimmy Lovaas, with additional writing by Sophie Perryer. Our music comes courtesy of Andrew Gospe.

Until next time, if you have any feedback, suggestions or events we’ve missed, drop us a note by emailing hello@factal.com

This transcript may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability not guaranteed. 

Copyright © 2024 Factal. All rights reserved.

Music: 'Factal Theme' courtesy of Andrew Gospe