Posted on March 7, 2024

Haiti’s ‘Barbecue’ Gang Leader Warns of Genocide Unless Prime Minister Ariel Henry Steps Down

Raoul Simons, The Telegraph, March 6, 2024

The powerful Haitian gang leader nicknamed “Barbecue” has warned of genocide and civil war in Haiti unless the prime minister steps down.

Jimmy Chérizier’s warning comes amid widespread violence in the capital, Port-au-Prince, where armed criminal gangs, who control large swathes of the country, are seeking to oust Ariel Henry, the prime minister.

“If Ariel Henry doesn’t resign, if the international community continues to support him, we’ll be heading straight for a civil war that will lead to genocide,” said Cherizier, a former police officer who is under UN sanctions for human rights abuses.

“Either Haiti becomes a paradise or a hell for all of us. It’s out of the question for a small group of rich people living in big hotels to decide the fate of people living in working-class neighbourhoods.”

Chérizier claims that his “Barbecue” moniker was acquired because his mother was a fried-chicken street seller. But opponents of the warlord, who leads an alliance of Haitian gangs, say it stems from his alleged proclivity for burning his enemies alive.

Mr Henry was on a trip to Kenya last week when fierce fighting –  which has left about 15,000 people displaced over the past week – broke out in and around Port-au-Prince.

The clashes have also seen about 3,600 prisoners broken out of the country’s largest prison.

Mr Henry appeared to be struggling to fly home, with gunfire also shutting down some flights at the main airport.

The gangs have been specifically targeting Toussaint Louverture International Airport in Port-au-Prince, with the aim of preventing the return of Mr Henry, who is also acting president.

In his absence, Haitian officials declared a three-day state of emergency on Monday and imposed a nightly curfew in an effort to calm the growing unrest. Mr Henry had been visiting Kenya trying to recruit 1,000 police officers to help restore order.

Neighbouring Dominican Republic has so far refused permission for Mr Henry to land, according to Dominican news group CDN.

On Tuesday evening, a spokesman for the governor’s office in nearby Puerto Rico confirmed his plane had landed there, at least briefly, adding: “I don’t know if he’s still in Puerto Rico.”