SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) – The UN Security Council has approved a resolution imposing sanctions on Jimmy Chérizier, leader of a powerful gang federation in Haiti, who has been accused of threatening the peace, security or stability of the country. It also imposes a travel ban, asset freeze and arms embargo on Chérizier and would set up a committee to designate others to be put on a sanctions list.
The resolution comes nearly two weeks after Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry and his cabinet called for the deployment of foreign troops to end Haiti’s mounting crisis, a request the UN is still considering.
Chérizier and the federation he leads, known as “G9 Family and Allies”, have blocked the entrance to a major fuel terminal in the capital Port-au-Prince for more than a month as fuel, water and other basic necessities become scarce amid a cholera outbreak. The gang has said it won’t budge until Henry resigns, but in a video recently posted to social media, Chérizier, nicknamed “Barbecue,” called on the government to grant amnesty to him and G9 members and invalidate all arrest warrants against them. . The government has not responded as police struggle to contain gangs that have grown more powerful since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021.
Here’s a look at Chérizier’s life and rise to power:
WHO IS JIMMY CHÉRIZIER, AND WHY IS HE NAMED “BARBECUE”?
Chérizier is a former officer in Haiti’s National Police who worked with the Crowd Control Unit division, which has been deployed during riots or protests and has been accused of excessive force. Since then, he has grown into what many consider to be Haiti’s most powerful gang leader.
Chérizier told The Associated Press in a 2019 interview that he was born in the Port-au-Prince community of Delmas, next to the La Saline slum, as one of eight children whose father died when he was 5. He said his mother was a street vendor who sold fried chicken, which is how he got the nickname “Barbecue”, denying that he deserved the nickname due to allegations that he set people on fire.
Chérizier told the AP that he was inspired by the late dictator Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier, who ruled Haiti with bloody brutality from 1957 to 1971 and proclaimed himself “president for life”.
HOW DID CHÉRIZIER GET SO POWERFUL?
Haiti’s National Police fired Chérizier in December 2018 and he still faces an pending arrest warrant for his alleged role in a 2017 massacre.
Authorities accuse Chérizier of becoming the gang leader of Base Delmas 6, an impoverished neighborhood in Lower Delmas, and of organizing large-scale massacres that took place in the nearby slums of Grand Ravine in 2017, in La Saline in 2018 and in Bel-Air. in 2019 , allegations that Chérizier denies.
According to a report by the International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School, at least nine civilians have been killed in Grand Ravine, another 71 people have been killed, 11 women have been raped and 150 homes have been destroyed in La Saline and at least 24 people have been killed in Bel Air. .
In June 2020, Chérizier established a new alliance known as “G9 Family and Allies”. It was originally composed of nine gangs from Cite Soleil, La Saline and lower Delmas, but has since grown to more than a dozen gangs, according to a UN report. Security Council report.
“The G9 … is notorious for the diversity of its members,” the report said.
In mid-2020, the gang alliance was accused of killing at least 145 people in Cite Soleil and raping multiple women “in an effort to claim territories owned by rivals with ties to Moïse’s political opponents,” the Harvard report said.
“Residents believe they have been targeted because of their political affiliations, in an effort to gain electoral support for (Moise) and his party,” the report said, adding that “G9 reportedly has ties to both the Moise government and (Haiti’s National Police).”
Haiti’s National Human Rights Defense Network has echoed those allegations, saying that local police helped protect Chérizier even while he was allegedly committing crimes.
In December 2020, the US Treasury Department issued civil sanctions against Chérizier and others believed to have been involved in the massacres, accusing gangs of removing “victims, including children, from their homes to be executed and then taking them onto the streets.” to where their bodies were buried. burned, dismembered and fed to animals.”
Chérizier has repeatedly denied any involvement in the massacres, saying he is a community leader helping residents and leading an “armed revolution”, adding that he would “put arms in the hands of every child if he must.”
“I would never butcher people in the same social class as me,” he told the AP. “I live in the ghetto. I know what life in a ghetto is like.”
WHAT’S NEXT FOR CHÉRIZIER?
Since mid-September, Chérizier and his allies have surrounded a major fuel terminal in Port-au-Prince, refusing to move until the prime minister resigns. But after the Haiti government requested the immediate deployment of foreign troops, Chérizier announced that he wanted an amnesty and the withdrawal of all arrest warrants against him and his allies.
The gang is also demanding cabinet positions, the director of Haiti’s National Commission for Disarmament, Decommissioning and Reintegration told radio station Magik 9.
The government has not publicly responded to those requests.
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