Friday, January 21

In Haiti, the gangs are “all-powerful”, for this journalist who survived a deadly attack

“The bullets were fired”: the only survivor of the attack where two Haitian journalists lost their lives on Thursday, murdered by a gang on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince, Wilmann Vil is now hiding for fear of being found by these criminal gangs networks according to him unsuspected.

Accompanied by Wilguens Louissaint and Amady John Wesley, Wilmann Vil progressed, as part of a report, on foot Thursday in the bed of a dry river in the heart of the mountain overlooking the Haitian capital.

Completely uncovered, they were targeted at the end of the morning by one of the gangs which wants to dominate this rural area, which has become strategic to reach the southern half of Haiti.

“The bullets were firing, they were firing nonstop,” Wilmann Vil recalls on Saturday in a telephone interview with AFP.

The 31-year-old reporter manages to take shelter under the trees on the shore and, climbing a section of the mountain, is protected by peasants to whom he explains his distress.

– Bursts of fire –

“They made me sit down and I picked up my phone to call Amady,” who he’s used to working with for a decade.

“I asked him where he was and he said + the guys have captured me, I’m with them,” reports online media worker RL production.

Wilmann Vil then heard his colleague beg the gang members to spare him and Wilguens Louissaint.

“Amady kept telling them + we are not bandits, we are journalists. We came to do a report,” remembers Wilmann, who then puts his phone on speaker “so that all the peasants who were around (to him) can also listen “.

But bursts of fire echoed at the end of the line and the survivor of the attack then realizes that he must flee as quickly as possible.

“The people of the area gave me clothes so that I could change and go more discreetly,” said the journalist who was placed by the residents in a small house.

“On the way, I saw armed guys who had already climbed on the roofs of the houses and who were looking for me,” he explains in a very quick voice.

Aware that protecting a person wanted by the gangs constitutes a great risk, the agricultural workers find him a motorcycle taxi driver who can exfiltrate him, in the company of a local elected official, outside the zone controlled by the armed bands.

– “Better armed than the police” –

Safe and sound, the reporter saw his daily tranquility shattered.

“My daughter (4 years old) tells me that she is afraid and she does not sleep”, sighs Wilmann who lives, with his family, caulked in the house of a third party because he is afraid “of the spies that the gangs may have. in (his) neighborhood “.

The journalist knows the operating methods of gangs having, on many occasions, been to meet them to produce reports.

“These guys are all-powerful,” he says. “I saw how they work in the ghettos.”

“They have so many guns and people who work for them, people you would never have the idea of ​​telling yourself that they are in a gang,” Wilmann warns.

In shock after the death of his two colleagues, he went to the judicial police to testify but has no great hope of seeing the murderers answer for their acts.

“They know who the guys are and the police know where they are: they even have their phone numbers,” says Wilmann Vil.

Fatalist, he believes that, even if it had the will, the Haitian police could not dislodge the gangs from the territories they conquered because they “are much better armed than the police”.

Without naming them, the thirty-something denounces the responsibility of powerful personalities in Haiti’s plunge into the current security chaos.

“I am not defending the bandits, they are guilty”, he insists, “but the politicians and the private sector in Haiti are also guilty because the guys in the ghettos do not have the money to buy themselves the kind weapons that I saw in their hands “.

Planning to go into exile to put his family to safety, Wilmann Vil regrets that his “country is really finished because of banditry”.

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