August 19, 2023 -Jimmy Cherizier, often referred to as “Barbecue,” once served as a police officer but has since emerged as arguably Haiti’s most dominant gang figure. Reports are that he recently issued a clear warning: Should an international armed force engage in abuses within Haiti, they would face staunch opposition.
Reports are that Cherizier spoke to nearly two dozen journalists at an outdoor construction site in Port-au-Prince.
A nation on edge
Since the assassination of President Jovenel Moise in July 2021, Prime Minister Ariel Henry has been steering Haiti through turbulent times. One of his key moves has been lobbying for the deployment of foreign military assistance.
Reports are that this was to counter the dominant gangs that, according to estimates, now control a staggering 80 percent of Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince.
Offers of international assistance to Haiti
Following Henry’s plea, Kenya stepped up, proposing to head a multinational task force. Additionally, the U.S. initiated steps for a non-UN multinational mission, signaling their intent through a resolution at the UN Security Council.
- Bahamas to deploy 150 police officers to Haiti amid violence
- Jamaica’s PM affirms the country’s readiness to send soldiers to Haiti
- UN Secretary-General says Haiti urgently needs an international security force and humanitarian aid
Cherizier’s conditional welcome
In a twist, Cherizier expressed openness to a foreign presence – but with a warning. His acceptance hinges on the force’s intention to detain corrupt local figures, including the prime minister and police officers alleged to be involved in illicit arms deals within Haiti’s deprived areas.
However, Cherizier also voiced strong concerns, highlighting past transgressions by international peacekeepers. He warned against any repeat of previous offenses such as sexual abuse and unintentional introduction of diseases like cholera.
A history of accusations
Reports are that Cherizier stands accused of orchestrating multiple massacres in recent years. Additionally, his leadership during a fuel blockade severely hampered Haiti’s daily functions for nearly 60 days.
Despite these allegations, Cherizier revealed that his gang, the G9 Family and Allies, has resolved its conflicts with a rival faction, G-Pep, emphasizing a message of unity.
A plea for education amidst chaos
Amidst the political and gang-related turbulence, Cherizier unexpectedly urged for the reopening of schools in regions most affected by gang violence, such as Cite Soleil.
It is reported that the ongoing conflict has wreaked havoc on the local population, leading to the displacement of nearly 200,000 Haitians and numerous reports of violence.