Tensions in Haiti are reaching new levels after gangs took control of the fuel supply, leading to shortages of food, gas, and medical services.
The government of the troubled country is asking for foreign troops to be deployed and the U.N. Security Council is considering proposing sanctions on gang members. Amid the unrest, one of the country’s most influential gang bosses has proposed a plan to stabilize the country that involves including his henchmen in the government.
Jimmy Chérizier, a former police officer turned gang leader who goes by the alias Barbecue, recently released a video reading a proposal to pacify the country, which includes giving gang members amnesty and voiding outstanding arrest warrants, according to the Associated Press. The AP also said that the director of Haiti’s National Disarmament, Dismantling, and Reintegration Commission told a local radio station on Thursday that the gang is asking for positions in the prime minister’s cabinet.
Chérizier leads an alliance of Haitian gangs called the “G9 Family and Allies.” The group took control of Haiti’s largest fuel terminal last month after the government eliminated fuel subsidies, causing prices to double. The move, along with protests around the country, have caused hospitals to restrict certain services, caused water shortages, and forced banks and grocery stores to limit the hours they’re open. A U.N.-backed report released last week said that a record 4.7 million people in Haiti are now facing acute hunger, with roughly 19,000 in catastrophic famine conditions.
The gang said they would not allow the release of fuel to the population until Prime Minister Ariel Henry resigned. Henry took power after the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021. Since then, much of the country has fallen into the grip of local gangs. Henry said he intends to hold presidential elections as soon as it is safe to do so.
Chérizier’s plan to reportedly pacify Haiti would be the creation of a “Council of Sages” with a representative from each of Haiti’s 10 departments, who would govern the country with an interim president until presidential elections in February 2024.
But it seems unlikely that the government will appease their demands.