Haiti’s Capital Paralyzed by Gunfire as Gang Boss Threatens Police Chief and Ministers

Haiti’s Capital Paralyzed by Gunfire as Gang Boss Threatens Police Chief and Ministers

Haiti ,Americas, Gangs ,news

Heavy gunfire has paralyzed Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince, as a powerful gang leader, Jimmy Chérizier, also known as "Barbecue," threatens to capture the country's police chief and government ministers. This wave of violence occurred during the absence of Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who is currently in Kenya finalizing details for the deployment of a foreign armed force to help combat gangs in Haiti.

Gunmen targeted various locations, including Haiti's main international airport, resulting in widespread panic and the closure of businesses, government agencies, and schools The violence caught many people by surprise, and at least one airline, Sunrise Airways, suspended all flights.

Chérizier, in a recorded video, announced his intention to tie up the police chief and government ministers to prevent Henry from returning to Haiti. The backing of other major gangs in Port-au-Prince, estimated to control up to 80% of the capital, remains unclear.

Background and Context

Haiti has been grappling with political instability and gang violence for some time. The absence of elected officials, following the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021, has created a power vacuum. Prime Minister Ariel Henry assumed office with the backing of the international community.

Efforts to combat gang violence have been ongoing, with Henry meeting with Caribbean leaders in Guyana to discuss plans for long-awaited general elections by mid-2025 Additionally, Henry has been working on a deal with Kenya to deploy Kenyan police officers to Haiti, although a court ruling in Kenya last month deemed the proposed deployment unconstitutional.

The Gang Leader and Faction

Jimmy Chérizier, also known as "Barbecue," is a former police officer who now leads a gang federation called G9 Family and Allies In his recent video, he referred to a coalition called Viv Ansanm, which means "living together" in Haitian Creole This coalition was formed last year as part of a peace pact between Barbecue's federation and another powerful gang called G-Pep, with the goal of bringing down Henry's administration.

However, the coalition quickly crumbled after its announcement, and it remains uncertain whether Barbecue truly has the support of other gang leaders Rivalries between gangs in Haiti are strong, and alliances are constantly shifting, making sustained cooperation challenging.

Expert Analysis

Diego Da Rin, with the International Crisis Group, highlights the complexity of the situation, noting that while Barbecue's credibility is uncertain, coordinated attacks were launched in Port-au-Prince and other parts of Haiti. Da Rin emphasizes the fluid nature of gang alliances and the potential for gangs to act in a concerted manner for a limited period.

The recent wave of violence in Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince, has paralyzed the city and raised concerns about the safety of top officials. Gang leader Jimmy Chérizier, also known as "Barbecue," has threatened to capture the country's police chief and government ministers. The situation is further complicated by the absence of elected officials and ongoing efforts to combat gang violence. The support of other major gangs remains uncertain, and the fluid nature of gang alliances adds complexity to the situation.

News Agencies

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