Home » Philadelphia Priest Brokers Peace Deal Between Haitian Gang Leaders

Philadelphia Priest Brokers Peace Deal Between Haitian Gang Leaders

by Nolan Hawk

A priest from Northeast Philadelphia brokered a truce between rival gangs in Haiti’s ultra-violent Port-au-Prince slums.

Father Tom Hagan, who has dedicated decades of his life to serving in Hait through his organization Hands Together, managed to secure a peace deal between four of the most notorious gangs in the area.

Hagan said the region has was deemed “the most dangerous and destitute slum in the world” by the United Nations, and has been tormented by poverty and gang-related violence for decades.

The 400 Mowozo gang, who kidnapped and attempted to ransom 16 American missionaries and a Canadian in October of 2021, operate in locally in the city.

“That particular gang has a reputation of killing people and kidnapping they’re a very evil group,” Hagan remarked.

Hands Together operates more than 20 schools in Haiti that serve a dual purpose of educating children and feeding the poor.

“We have eight schools in Cite Soleil, about 6,600 students but each school also has an elderly component so we have 1,700 elderly that come to the school mostly for food and medical treatment,” Hagan said about their efforts.

But danger is a constant presence in his line of work, with at least a dozen of his staff members murdered by the gangs in the last 30 years.

“Every time we put people on top there’s a good chance they could get killed,” Hagan told News 5 Cleveland in 2021.

“I have 700 people that work for our organization, some of my top people are always in danger cause there’s a lot of jealousy they think they’re getting extra money or they’re getting this or that.”

The hardest part about his work is witnessing how the gang violence affects Port-au-Prince youth.

“What’s tough for me is to see the children. And many of the children are dying,” he remarked.

Now, there is a glimmer of hope as the leaders of four rival gangs have signed a truce. The agreement, titled “Peace Pledge,” was authored by Hagan, who deals with top gang leaders on a daily basis.

“The way I wrote it was ‘We will work for peace. We will strive to forgive and allow ourselves to be forgiven,'” he said about the document.

The effect of the pledge, which was signed in early July, was almost immediate. “There’s people out, the markets are open. People are out. Yes, there’s a big, big difference,” Hagan noted.

Peace, however, might only be temporary. “There are politicians who really don’t want stability because as long as it’s unstable, they don’t have to have elections,” he explained.

Hagan is unsure if the deal with last, but remains optimistic. “Oh that’s the thing I don’t know. I’m hoping every day!” He added.

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