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Gang Leader Named ‘Barbecue’ Is Now Most Powerful Man in Haiti — As US Evacuates Americans

Haiti’s most notorious gang leader, known as “Barbecue,” may be the most powerful man in the nation as the prime minister remains unable to return home.

On Sunday, the US announced that troops had evacuated Americans from the US Embassy and additional forces were brought in to secure the diplomatic compound in Port-au-Prince.

Jimmy Chérizier, leader of the notorious “G9 and Family” gang, is in command of the bulk of the gunmen stirring anarchy in the capital — and he vowed to fight until embattled Prime Minister Ariel Henry resigns.

“I am ready to make an alliance with the devil, ready to sleep in the same bed as the devil,” Chérizier told his supporters last week as his fighters destroyed police stations and other government facilities.

Some claim that the rifle-wielding 47-year-old mobster’s nickname comes from his penchant for setting his victims on fire — though he says it’s an old moniker his mother gave him as a boy.

He likened himself to Martin Luther King Jr. during an interview with the New Yorker last year, and was previously a member of the Haitian national police.

He was expelled from the force in 2018 for alleged ties to a number of horrific crimes, including the slaughter in the La Saline slums in which 71 people were killed, seven women were raped and 400 homes were burned down, according to official reports.

Chérizier, who denied any wrongdoing, went on to take over the G9 Family, which controls many of the slums and streets of Port-au-Prince.

The gang leader’s influence in the capital is so large that many view him as the man who will take the reins as Henry’s administration struggles to maintain order.

“Unfortunately, Barbecue is now the most powerful man in Haiti,” Judes Jonathas, an independent consultant based in Port-au-Prince, told the Guardian.

After Haiti’s government declared a state of emergency last Sunday, videos and images from social media have shed light on how Port-au-Prince has deteriorated into a war-torn city on the edge.

One such viral video from the Associated Press shows dozens of civilians running for their lives, screaming and ducking as gunshots are heard behind them.

Other images show armored vehicles patrolling the streets and heavily armed military personnel escorting a group of civilians through a nearly deserted part of the city.

As the situation continues to escalate, the US military said Sunday it has deployed additional security forces to the US Embassy and called for all nonessential personnel to evacuate.

US Southern Command said an aircraft had conducted an evacuation at the embassy building, noting that only Americans were aboard.

“This airlift of personnel into and out of the Embassy is consistent with our standard practice for Embassy security augmentation worldwide, and no Haitians were on board the military aircraft,” according to the Southcom statement.

US officials have said proposals for sending a UN-authorized security force to Haiti have been unsuccessful so far, with Henry failing to secure a deal in January while in Kenya.

The embattled prime minister remains unable to return home as he arrived in Puerto Rico last Tuesday.

Luis Abinader — president of the Dominican Republic, which borders Haiti on the island of Hispaniola — warned Henry that he was not welcome in the neighboring country.

“Given the current situation, the presence of the Haitian prime minister in the Dominican Republic is not considered appropriate,” Abinader said in a statement Saturday. “This decision reflects the firm position of the Dominican government to safeguard its national security and stability.”

The violence in Haiti has been mainly aimed at Henry, who was appointed prime minister following the assassination of President Jovenel Moise in July 2021.

Although Henry had pledged to step down by early February, he later said the nation’s security needed to be re-established first in order to ensure free and fair elections by mid-2025.

READ 18 COMMENTS
  • springy says:

    It’s time to barbecue Barbeque

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