“Barbecue” in Haiti’s Capital

A significant lack of direction for the Haitian government following the resignation of former Prime Minister Ariel Henry has left Haiti in the hands of gangs. Haiti’s recent turmoil is the product of pent-up political tension under Henry’s leadership. He has been criticized for leading a government that does not consider the well-being of the country’s population, while calling for international aid that in the past has proven unhelpful. His recent plea for aid stirred up dormant frustration, as it was viewed as a method to uplift Henry in the face of dwindling support. Armed gangs took control of multiple cities within the country, threatening a civil war if Henry did not follow through with resignation.

Since the start of 2024, there has been a significant uptick in gang violence due to distaste with the former prime minister; repeated demonstrations against his leadership overwhelmed the country as Henry was called on to step down. On March 11, Henry released a statement agreeing to resign from his position as soon as a transitional presidential council was appointed. This action came after Henry made a trip to Jamaica to discuss the future of his country. With members of the Biden administration and U.N. representatives present, Henry attempted to devise a plan that would push forward new elections. However, while away, gangs seized control of the Port-Au-Prince airport and threatened further violence if Henry did not resign immediately.

The imposed violence and unrest by Haitian gangs and citizens is not a new development, however. While the recent violence has been more significant than it was in the past, unrest has defined Haiti since the assassination of former President Jovenel Moïse in 2021. Since his assassination, there has been no clear leadership of the Haitian government; the National Assembly has been vacant, and Henry never set new dates for legislative elections. Henry was accused of being a dictator by opponents and is suspected by some of having direct involvement in the assassination of Moïse.

Currently, Haiti is under control of Jimmy Chérizer, also known by the name “Barbecue.” Chérizer was instrumental in the orchestration of the Port-Au-Prince airport siege, along with the mass jailbreak that left 4,000 gang members freed. Currently, Chérizer has made it clear he wants a revolution with a strong-hold leader in power as the outcome. It is uncertain whether Chérizer views himself in the final position of power; what has been made clear is his desire for a new government, and that he is willing to do what he can to see political movement

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