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Monday, July 22, 2024

Haitian Gang Leader Threatens Civil War, Genocide if PM Doesn’t Resign

Jimmy Cherizier, widely recognized as “Barbecue,” issued strong remarks as Ariel Henry faced challenges returning home amid an attack on the main airport and the neighboring Dominican Republic refusing landing permission. Henry, initially slated to resign the previous month, was abroad when armed criminal factions orchestrated a coordinated assault to remove him from power.

Cherizier, a former police officer under UN sanctions for human rights violations, warned that failure to resign by Henry, coupled with international support, would propel the nation into a civil war with genocidal consequences. He emphasized the need for Haiti to either transform into a paradise or descend into chaos, rejecting the idea that a select group of affluent individuals in upscale hotels should dictate the fate of those in working-class neighborhoods.

Amid the escalating crisis in Haiti, gunfire disrupted flights at Toussaint Louverture International Airport. Henry faced rejection from the Dominican Republic, and his plane reportedly landed briefly in Puerto Rico, though his current whereabouts were uncertain.

In office since the 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moise, Henry, instead of stepping down in February, agreed to a power-sharing arrangement with the opposition until new elections are held.

Earlier in the day, an armed gang attacked a police academy in the capital where over 800 cadets are undergoing training. The assault was repelled with reinforcements, according to Lionel Lazarre of the Haitian police union.

The unrest also left 250 stranded Cubans in Port-au-Prince after flight cancellations, with a Cuban passenger recounting a startling discovery of a bullet hole in their plane just before boarding.

Cherizier, leading the “G9 Family and Allies” group of gangs, draws inspiration from the brutal rule of Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier in the 1960s and 70s. Despite acknowledging harmful acts committed by gunmen, he advocates for forgiveness and societal unity to envision a new Haiti.

UN-backed mission planned 

For months, Haitian officials have urgently appealed for international aid to support their overwhelmed security forces, grappling with the expansion of gangs beyond urban centers into rural areas. Ariel Henry had traveled to Kenya to advocate for the deployment of a UN-backed multinational police mission to stabilize Haiti, precisely when the attempt to remove him from power unfolded.

During his absence, criminal gangs targeted two Port-au-Prince prisons, resulting in a dozen deaths and the escape of numerous inmates. The brazen attacks underscored the perceived vulnerability of the police force. Residents, such as Bertony Junior Exantus from Delmas in Port-au-Prince, emphasized that these events demonstrated the diminishing significance of law enforcement.

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The violence prompted over 15,000 people to evacuate the most severely affected areas of the capital, according to Stephane Dujarric, spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Hindered by restricted movement, on-the-ground UN teams have been unable to provide an accurate death toll.

In response to the escalating crisis, the Haitian government declared a state of emergency and implemented a nighttime curfew. The UN Security Council convened a closed-door meeting to address the situation.

While Port-au-Prince experienced a relative lull on Tuesday, some streets remained barricaded by residents. Partial resumption of transportation and the reopening of shops occurred, leading to long queues at stores, banks, and petrol stations.

In Washington, the State Department renewed its call for calm, refraining from commenting on the whereabouts of Haiti’s prime minister. The situation remains fluid, with international concerns intensifying over the security and stability of the nation.

John Collins
John Collins
John is an esteemed journalist and author renowned for their incisive reporting and deep insights into global affairs. As a prominent contributor to City Telegraph, John brings over 5 years of experience covering diverse geopolitical landscapes, from the corridors of power in major capitals to the frontlines of conflict zones.

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