‘All The Smoke’: Haitian Gang Leader Vows To Defend Country Against ‘Abusive’ Foreign Armed Forces

Jimmy Chérizier, who was once a Haitian police officer, is considered by many to be the most powerful gang leader in the country. On Wednesday, Aug. 16, he called on the citizens of Haiti to fight back against the deployment of foreign armed forces.

“We are asking the population to rise up,” Chérizier said. “We will fight against them until our last breath. It will be a fight of the Haitian people to save the dignity of our country.” Prime Minister Ariel Henry has discussed plans to ask for foreign assistance to help combat an increase in gang violence throughout the country. According to the Associated Press, 80% of the country’s capital, Port-au-Prince, is said to be under gang control. The history of the United Nations in Haiti is one marred by allegations of sexual assault as well as accidental poisoning of the country’s water supply. Therefore, many residents sneer at the idea of more foreigners coming in the name of peace unless the focus is on corrupt government officials who have long terrorized their citizens. “If the foreign force comes to help and provide security for life to start over again, we will also applaud,” Chérizier said.

Violence in the country has displaced more than 200,000 Haitians who have had to seek refuge as warring gangs flood the streets with bullets.

Chérizier is one of the many gang leaders accused of inciting several massacres in recent years. According to the Associated Press, the former police officer is under U.N sanctions following claims that 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.” Though he has called a truce with an opposing gang, G-Pep, there are still mounting concerns for civilian safety and the future of Haiti, which has long been depleted of necessary resources and fallen under tyrannical rule.