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AP team overcomes security risks to cover Haiti’s spiraling violence

People walk past burning tires during a protest against Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Monday, Feb. 5, 2024. Banks, schools and government agencies closed in Haiti’s northern and southern regions on Monday while protesters blocked main routes with blazing tires and paralyzed public transportation, according to local media reports. AP PHOTO / ODELYN JOSEPH

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From Port-au-Prince to Miami to Mexico City, AP journalists drew on deep knowledge of Haiti to file a steady stream of breaking news of a government under siege and civilians diving for cover.

Experienced freelancers with deep knowledge of their native country, video journalist Pierre Luxama and photographer Joseph Odelyn, rushed to provide the first videos and photos from the international media after a powerful gang leader announced he would try to capture the police chief and government minister while the prime minister was out of the country. Prime Minister Ariel Henry was in Kenya to secure the deployment of a police force to help fight the very gangs that were attacking targets back home, including the international airport. Caribbean correspondent based in Puerto Rico Dánica Coto and Latin America Affairs correspondent Josh Goodman based in Miami worked with reporter Evens Sanon to explain the scope and back story of the ensuing lawlessness to an international audience.

AP’s Haiti-based team has learned to determine when and what areas are safe to enter and when to turn away. They watch for roadblocks, pedestrians, and written signs and talk to locals to help determine the level of risk of reporting. As our teams navigated the extremely volatile situation on the ground, regional desk editors and producers expanded the breadth and depth of the coverage through digitally friendly text and a video explainer.

For taking all the possible safety measures to safely continue covering Haiti’s chaotic volatility and providing reporting support beyond borders, AP’s Haiti reporting team of Luxama, Odelyn, Coto, Goodman and Sanon are Best of the Week — Second Winner.

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