Haitian gang leader Jimmy Chérizier, alias “Barbecue,” is a central target of potential UN Security Council sanctions, while a separate resolution has called for an international armed force to help the country address its security crisis.
Proposed sanctions would impose an arms embargo, asset freeze, and travel ban on Barbecue, the leader of the G9 and Family (G9 an fanmi - G9) gang federation, reported the Associated Press on October 13. Although the resolution specifically named Barbecue, sanctions would also target other Haitian groups and gang leaders.
A separate, US-drafted resolution encourages the "immediate deployment of a multinational rapid action force" in Haiti, according to a copy of the resolution obtained by McClatchy and the Miami Herald.
The discussion of sanctions comes a month after Barbecue and G9 fighters blocked the entrance to Terminal Varreux, the country's largest oil terminal and essential refueling point for the capital. Actions like these, the draft resolution read, "have directly contributed to the economic paralysis and humanitarian crisis in Haiti.”
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Barbecue has been under sanctions by the US Treasury Department since 2020, and it is unclear what impact UN-backed sanctions would have on the leader.
Jake Johnston, a Senior Research Associate at the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), told InSight Crime that "sanctions on leaders of armed groups such as Chérizier are likely to be merely symbolic and would do little to alter the situation on the ground.”
These proposals come nearly a week after UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres voiced support for deploying an international specialized armed force in Haiti. Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry had previously requested the support of an international armed force to help strengthen the national police's ability to counter and contain the gangs.
The Commission for a Haitian Solution to the Crisis, also known as the Montana Accord, published a statement on Twitter on October 7 opposing any foreign intervention. The Accord is a coalition of more than 650 Haitian civil society organizations and a range of political groups, according to The New Republic.
On October 17, the Security Council ended a special session on Haiti without voting on whether it will support the country's request for urgent international support.
InSight Crime Analysis
Starving Port-au-Prince of fuel has been a lucrative tactic for Barbecue both politically and financially, but the potential sanctions he faces as well as the deployment of an international armed force may soon end this cash cow.
Barbecue’s blockade of the Terminal Varreux and control over vast swaths of Port-au-Prince have earned him hefty paydays from the Haitian government in the past. After blockading the entrance to Terminal Varreux in November 2021, Barbecue finally allowed the terminal to reopen following negotiations with the government. Though details of the deal remain unclear, the gang had publicly demanded $100,000.
His grip on key infrastructure has allowed him to shake down the government and has earned him considerable political leverage. Barbecue has not only demanded that Henry’s administration grant him amnesty and void arrest warrants against the group's members, but he also asked for positions in Henry’s cabinet.
SEE ALSO: G9 vs. G-PEP - The Two Gang Alliances Tearing Haiti Apart
While Barbecue’s true political intentions are unknown, Haiti’s biggest criminal player now has significant power in the formal political system. With the support of voters in the areas of the city that Barbecue controls, he could feasibly run for a parliament seat in the future. There, he would receive immunity, Brian Concannon, executive director of the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), told InSight Crime.
“The Varreux blockade could also be a negotiating gambit with the international community. An international force is not going to want to fight him. They would prefer to negotiate a deal, perhaps one that gives Barbecue some political role and protection from being shot, in return for the international community being able to declare victory by resuming fuel deliveries,” said Concannon.
Barbecue's legitimacy increasingly threatens Haiti's political class, and ousting this potential threat would guarantee Henry and his administration’s grip on power. For this reason, Johnston previously wrote that some political actors are stoking the crisis, fueling the deterioration, and hoping for foreign intervention. Sanctions targeting Barbecue may be ineffective, and Johnston would rather see sanctions “targeting those among the political and economic elite who provide financing and guns to armed groups.”