Haiti gang leader vows to fight any foreign armed force if it commits abuses

The content originally appeared on: Caribbean News Service
Jimmy Ch?rizier leads a march to demand justice for the murdered president 3Jovenel Mo?se in Lower Delmas, Port-au-Prince, in July 2021. Photograph: Odelyn Joseph/AP

Haiti’s most powerful gang leader has warned that he and his gunmen would fight any international armed force deployed to the Caribbean country if it committed any abuses.

Jimmy Ch?rizier, a former police officer known by his nickname “Barbecue”, also urged Haitians to mobilize against the government. “We are asking the population to rise up,” he said at a news conference.

The prime minister, Ariel Henry, who has led Haiti since the July 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Mo?se, has been pushing for the deployment of a foreign armed force since October to help fight powerful gangs that are estimated to now control 80% of the capital, Port-au-Prince.

In late July, Kenya offered to lead a multinational force, and the US said earlier this month that it would put forward a resolution in the UN security council to authorize a non-UN multinational mission.

Ch?rizier said he would welcome a foreign force if it were to arrest the prime minister and people he described as corrupt politicians and local police allegedly selling ammunitions and guns in Haiti’s slums.

“If the foreign force comes to help and provide security for life to start over again, we will also applaud,” he said.

But he said Haitians would rise up if any international force repeated the actions of previous UN peacekeepers, including committing sexual abuses and inadvertently introducing cholera into water sources.

“We will fight against them until our last breath,” he said. “It will be a fight of the Haitian people to save the dignity of our country.”

The United Nations had no comment, spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

Ch?rizier, who has been accused by authorities of masterminding several massacres in recent years and of organizing a fuel blockade last year that paralyzed Haiti for nearly two months, said the group he leads, G9 Family and Allies, is no longer warring with another group known as G-Pep.

“We became one,” he said. “We love life a lot.”

Ch?rizier is the only Haitian under UN sanctions, with the security council saying he “has engaged in acts that threaten the peace, security and stability of Haiti and has planned, directed or committed acts that constitute serious human rights abuses”.

He called on the ministry of education to reopen schools in Cit? Soleil and other slums that have been closed because warring gangs who are raping and killing people. The violence has displaced nearly 200,000 Haitians whose homes have been torched by the gangs.

Ch?rizier spoke to nearly two dozen journalists at an outdoor construction site in Port-au-Prince. He wore sandals, white pants and an orange hoodie emblazoned with a religious symbol used in Vodou.

He was surrounded by several G9 members carrying small handguns visible under their clothes, unlike his previous media appearances at which they openly held assault rifles.

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