Did a gang kill the president of Haiti, Jovenel Moise? In a lawless country, the answer may well be “Yes.” Violence in the Caribbean country has intensified since the beginning of June, especially due to the action of G9 an Fanmi e Alye, an Fgang ederation that until recently was considered in the orbit of the Government and that in recent weeks declared war on Moise.
Who are they? Haiti has been experiencing, for three years, an upward spiral of insecurity associated with the existence of more than 77 armed gangs or gangs, which they call gangs. Among them the Group of 9 in family and alliance (G9 an Fanmi e Alye), alluding to its nine main leaders.
The G9 has to his own YouTube channel, and on July 7, 2020, it mobilized 50 of its heavily armed members through the streets of Port-au-Prince, demanding a kind of legal recognition. That caravan of terror was made in the same type of vehicles armored vehicles used by the special units of the National Police.
In an infrequent gesture of firmness on the part of the political power, the then Minister of Justice Lucmane Délile he cried out for the persecution and arrest of the criminals who paraded undaunted, in broad daylight, through the streets of the capital city.
Armed gangs in broad daylight in Port-au-Prince. Photo: AP
Délile stated: “We felt that it was extremely serious that armed bandits took to the streets of the capital to terrorize peaceful citizens. Haiti is not a banana republic where criminals can do whatever they want. “
That said, he ordered the Haitian National Police to locate the criminals.
“It is disgusting and unacceptable what I saw on television. I will not accept this comedy in bad taste,” he said and after them went immediately removed from office by Moise.
The great organizer of the G9, its main leader and spokesperson, is an exonerated cop of the Unit for the Maintenance of Order (UDMO), a specialized body of the National Police. His name is Jimmy Cherizier, popularly known as Barbecue.
Jimmy Cherizier, known as Barbecue, a former cop turned mob boss. Photo: AP
His separation from the force came after an operation carried out on November 13, 2017 in Grand Ravine, in which 8 civilians and two police officers lost their lives and some 30 people were injured.
For years, human rights organizations and a wide range of the opposition, ranging from the extreme right of the former official Youri Latortue to the social movements of the countryside and the city, denounce the collusion between Barbecue, the now deceased Jovenel Moise and the ruling party.
Thus, for example, a food delivery to the most humble populations of the Delmas district happened at the beginning of 2020 was coordinated by the national police and Barbecue himself, who was treated with the deference that a social leader would deserve, and not as a recognized criminal on whom an arrest warrant weighs.
The G9 fully controls the areas of Martissant, Village de Dieu, Grand Ravin, Bas Delmas, Bel Air, Cité Soleil, Fort Dimanche and many others, located mainly in the central area of Port-au-Prince and in the northern and southern accesses of the area. metropolitan area, which, in the unique Haitian geography, gives it an exceptional ability to isolate the capital from the rest of the country.
These territories are central for several reasons: due to their variegated population density – only the neighborhood of Cite Soleil it concentrates almost 300 thousand people—; for your specific electoral weight when defining any election; but mainly because they are some of the most radically mobilized areas since the days of the government of the progressive priest Jean Bertrand Aristide.
Kidnappings, weapons and drug trafficking
Not even the coronavirus pandemic that hit Haiti harshly beat the gangs.
Since the beginning of 2020, armed gangs have increased terror in the Caribbean country. Encouraged by impunity and their privileged relationships with the authorities, the gangs tripled kidnappings last year, despite the pandemic, in popular neighborhoods of the capital.
The gangs have made the kidnappings a lucrative business that does not discriminate against potential victims based on age, sex or social status and that they have unleashed significant social unrest in Haiti, already marked by political tension.
The authorities do not offer official figures on the number of kidnappings and, in any case, on many occasions the families of the victims do not report for fear of retaliation, given the threats made by the captors in case of going to the authorities or the press.
The National Network for the Defense of Human Rights (RNDDH) and, although it does not have data on the number of people kidnapped, estimates that there are more than five kidnappings a day, according to the director of the organization, Mary Rosy Auguste Ducéna, based on the available information.
Haitian families in the port of Port-au-Prince flee the city from the scourge of armed gangs. Photo: AFP
He added that although cases occur throughout the country, the communities of Port-au-Prince, Delmas and Petionville are the most dangerous.
Unable to return to their neighborhoods due to gang warfare, thousands of Haitians refugees live in a gym or temporarily housed in private homes, mired in uncertainty and vulnerability that exposes them to risk of trafficking.
NGO aid for these families must be sent by helicopter because by land they are easy prey for the gangs.
The relationship with Moise
The increase in kidnapping shows the general deterioration of security in the country, which goes hand in hand with the growing crisis of governance of Jovenel Moise.
Since January 2020, Jovenel Moise ruled alone, by decree, since the term of the parliamentarians expired and the head of state did not call elections to replace them.
In this way, he has made several controversial decisions; for example, creating a national intelligence agency, whose members are above all the law and only report to the president, or actions to reduce the power of the Superior Court of Accounts, which he had accused him of acts of corruption.
In addition, several human rights organizations had denounced the Moise government’s relationship with gangs years ago. And in 2020 the signs of this were especially evident.
But in an unexpected twist, the G9 leader appeared in public on June 23, in a video accompanied by a platoon of hooded and armed youths – several of them wearing police clothing – to announce the start of an “armed revolution” against the state, the government and the political opposition.
Using national symbols and evoking the heroes of the independence revolution, he invited the population to arm themselves and join his organization.
Maybe Moise lost the only support he had. A handful of days after that announcement, this Wednesday a commando group entered his residence at dawn and shot him dead.