Haiti Gang Led by an Ex-Cop Declares 'Revolution' as Violence Surge Fueled by Poverty
A Haiti's gang led by an ex-cop has declared this week that they are going to launch a revolution against the country's business and political elites, further escalating the violence surge in the Caribbean nation.
Violence has increased in Haiti in recent weeks, with the United Nations saying it was at "unprecedented levels," according to an Aljazeera report.
Haiti's rival gangs battle with one another or the police for control of the streets, displacing thousands and pushing the country into a humanitarian crisis.
Former police officer Jimmy Cherizier, alias "Barbecue," has formed the so-called "G9," which is a federation of nine gangs last year.
Cherizier told local media outlets in the slum of La Saline on Wednesday, June 23, that the G9 had become a revolutionary force to deliver Haiti from the opposition, the government, and the Haitian bourgeoisie.
The government had not publicly responded to his statement, Voice of America News (VOA) reported.
Who is Haiti's Gang Leader Jimmy Cherizier?
According to VOA, Jimmy Cherizier was a suspect in several massacres of citizens in recent years, including other crimes for which he was sanctioned late last year by the U.S.
The Haiti's gang leader depicts himself as a community leader filling the gaps left by weak institutions. The ex-cop said his gang members started the looting at multiple stores in Port-au-Prince last week. A huge crowd followed suit as they were hungry.
Jimmy Cherizier noted that it is the people's money in the banks, stores, supermarkets, and dealerships. He then encouraged the people to take what is rightfully theirs. His comments went viral on social media in Haiti.
Violence Surge in Haiti
Unicef said that rising gang violence in Haiti has caused around 8,500 women and children to flee their homes in the country's capital in the past weeks, The Guardian reported.
Many of the said families were staying in gymnasiums and other temporary shelters that are running out of water, food, and other items such as blankets and clothes.
Around 14,000 people in Port-au-Prince have been displaced by violence in the past nine months, according to the UN office overseeing humanitarian coordination.
Many expect the violence to increase as Haiti prepares for general elections in September and November. Many were speculating that gangs were trying to support certain candidates and target neighborhoods and organize protests against President Jovenel Moise.
Pierre Espérance, executive director of the Haitian National Human Rights Defense Network, said that gangs in Haiti control about 60 percent of the country's territory. Since 2018, he noted that 12 massacres have been reported in disadvantaged communities.
Espérance added that gangs have so much power and they are being tolerated. The executive director also said that each day that Moise is in power, the situation is going to deteriorate.
Businesses and schools have closed and public transportation has stopped in communities widely affected by the violence. This includes Martissant and parts of Delmas.
More than 40 patients were received by Doctors Without Borders in Martissant. The patients have gunshot wounds from June 2 and June 4 alone.
WATCH: Haiti Violence Threatens Elections - From VOA News
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