Haitan Gunmen Threaten Belizian Soccer Team

Haitan Gunmen Threaten Belizian Soccer Team

Ongoing instability in the troubled Caribbean nation reached an almost surreal high when an armed motorcycle gang converged on the Belize national soccer team.

The Jaguars were in the Haitian capital to play a qualifying match for the 2022 World Cup Finals in Qatar. On the ride from the airport to the hotel, “an uproar of insurgents with assault rifles on motorcycles” forcibly stopped the team bus, according to a statement. It is not clear what demands the gang members made and how many were involved. Team co-captain Deon McCauley called the attack “a moment of intense fear” and commended his teammates for keeping their cool.

Team officials said they reached out to the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF), urging them to do “everything possible” to ensure the team’s safety.

What is Going on in Haiti?

The lawlessness which touched these soccer players is symptomatic of the lawlessness which plagues this country and hampers its recovery from a massive 2010 earthquake.

Just days before the attack on the Belize soccer team, the United Nations Security Council issued a statement expressing “its deep concern regarding the protracted political, constitutional, humanitarian, and security crises in Haiti” and calling on “the government of Haiti to address underlying drivers of instability.”

Some members of the Security Council believe Haiti is coming apart at the seams. Officers of the Haitian National Police Force, a body which the United Nations trained, took to the streets and staged violent protests after several officers were killed in a failed Port-au-Prince gang raid. But that is just the beginning. The judiciary has been on strike for more than a month, Parliament is not holding regular meetings, and Haitian President Jovenel Moïse has ruled by emergency decree for more than a year.

Moïse is determined to hold elections in June 2021. Voters will consider a number of major constitutional referendums. Depending on your perspective, these measures will make the situation in Haiti substantially better or substantially worse.

One thing is certain. Haitians are frustrated about their government’s seeming inability to deal with crises, from the most recent riots to the aforementioned 2010 earthquake. Basic services have still not been re-established in many areas.

Contractors in Haiti

Amidst all this chaos, private military contractors, most of whom work for the State Department, try their best to help secure and rebuild the country.

Training government law enforcement and military forces is a big part of this security mentioned. Apparently, the United Nations did not do a very good job of teaching police officers to deal with operational setbacks. Private military contractors, on the other hand, know how to effectively communicate with police and military trainees, mostly because contractors come from these professions themselves.

To expedite the training process, private military contractors often work with local professionals. As a result, contractors overcome linguistic and cultural barriers. The training they offer has a better chance of sticking.

Fear is a problem in Haiti, as well. If a sports team cannot get from the hotel to the pitch without encountering armed resistance, something is clearly amiss. The same thing applies to judges who are afraid to go to their courtrooms. A group of private military contractors on a street corner is a rapid response force ready to protect American interests wherever they are threatened.

Frequently, the mere presence of private military contractors is reassuring and protective. Many private contractors are former police officers. So, they understand the value of deterrence.

Security contractors have multiple missions, and rebuilding contractors usually have a single mission. As mentioned, basic services are still a problem in many parts of Haiti. Contractors supervise the construction of things like power plants, bridges, and other infrastructure items. Effective supervision is critical. The supervisors are the bridge between Stateside planners and the local laborers who often perform much of the work.

Injury Compensation Available

If they get sick or injured either directly or indirectly in the line of duty, contractors are entitled to benefits under the Defense Base Act. These benefits usually include lost wage replacement and medical bill payment.

For starters, injured contractors must immediately report their situations to their supervisors. The DBA requires written notification. Therefore, electronic notice, like an email, might be insufficient. Insurance companies routinely use trivial technicalities like this one to deny coverage. So, the best approach is to send instant electronic notice and a follow-up “snail mail” letter.

After the insurance company processes the paperwork, if there is no question about liability, the insurance company normally cuts a check. But mostly since the deployment-injury/illness link could be direct or indirect, most insurance companies drag their feet. Other times, the insurance company acknowledges the illness or injury but refuses to pay for appropriate treatment.

Thus, most DBA cases move to the next level, which is a settlement conference between the victim and insurance company. A third-party mediator usually supervises this conference. The mediator reviews the medical records and other documents in the case, then tries to facilitate a settlement between the two parties.

Occasionally, this mediation is successful. However, largely due to a lack of information, these efforts usually fail. At the early stage of a claim, before the other side places all its cards on the table, it is much harder to win a poker game.

Most insurance companies use delay for financial purposes. The longer they hold onto money, the more interest they earn.

As a result, victims often experience significant financial stress during this period. To ease this burden, attorneys normally send letters of protection to medical providers. Because these letters guarantee payment when cases are resolved, the providers charge nothing upfront for their services.

Typically, the final stage in a DBA claim is a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. The ALJ also supervises pre-hearing activities, such as legal motions and evidence discovery. Since attorneys can make legal arguments, introduce evidence, and challenge evidence at this hearing, victims have an excellent chance of obtaining fair compensation.

For more information about DBA benefits, contact Barnett, Lerner, Karsen, Frankel & Castro, P.A.