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FRONTLINE: Battle For Haiti

Intervention Brigade, Port au Prince Police, Haiti
Dan Reed for FRONTLINE
Intervention Brigade, Port au Prince Police, Haiti

Airs Friday, January 14, 2011 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV

Last year, in the chaos of the earthquake that devastated Haiti, thousands of the country’s worst criminals seized the opportunity to stage a mass escape from the National Penitentiary. One year later, the gang leaders are re-asserting control in the capital, threatening the country’s stability.

With unique access to the police units trying to hunt down the gangsters — and revealing encounters with the gangsters themselves — FRONTLINE examines the uphill fight to rebuild Haiti in the face of deep-rooted corruption and intimidation.

This film also offers intimate portraits of the fearful lives many Haitians are living, as the central government and judicial system routinely fail to maintain order. “Haiti is a nation that committed collective suicide some time ago,” the chief of the UN mission tells FRONTLINE. If the gangs are not defeated, many now believe a new Haiti cannot be born.


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Battle For Haiti: Hunting The Gangsters
Battle For Haiti: Rogue Cops And Corrupt Politicians

A few miles outside Port-au-Prince is a government-established camp for displaced people — Camp Corail, the only "official" camp in Haiti. Rows and rows of neatly spaced tents provide shelter for thousands of people. But just past Corail, a more "organic" community has sprouted. Nearly 100,000 squatters have taken things into their own hands and taken to the hills. According to the Global Post, they've "constructed shacks with secondhand tarps, poached water from the bladders at Camp Corail and enrolled their children in its schools." The government has yet to respond to these hillside communities that are growing illegally — and quickly. NPR photographer David Gilkey spent a day wandering the community of Cabaret with a tilt-shift lens. An 'Organic' Community In Hillside Haiti, Credit: Photos by David Gilkey; Produced by Claire O'Neill