Haiti’s Tiny Coast Guard Faces a Huge Challenge
Too few sailors, a long coastline and too many smugglers
To patrol Haiti’s 1,535 kilometers of coastline, the job falls to 150 Coast Guard sailors and 10 boats. And that’s an improvement. Four years ago, the Coast Guard only had 99 sailors.
“People try to go to America,” Gilbert Guichard, the Haitian Coast Guard’s chief of operations told War Is Boring. “It’s on the north side. They’re leaving every night so when we do patrols at night, sometimes we find them — but it’s not easy. Because of the dark. Sometimes they go and we cannot catch them.”
Here’s another problem — Haiti is emerging as a major drug trafficking hub in the Caribbean as the land borders through Central America and Mexico become harder to cross. Boats loaded with cocaine disembarking from Colombia and Venezuela have plenty of places in Haiti to land.
For the sailors, the greater danger comes when smugglers shoot at them … and even from piracy.