Behind the Headlines: Analyzing the Impact of Haiti’s Gang Attempted Coup


Powerful Haitian gang leader Jimmy Cherizier, also known as “Barbecue,” has attempted a coup to overthrow Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who is currently in Kenya.

Violence erupted in Haiti for two consecutive days as the gangs warned Henry against returning to the country where he assumed leadership in 2021 after the assassination of President Jovenel Moise.

According to Haitian media, Barbecue declared, “The battle will not only topple the Ariel [Henry] government but change the whole system.”

The situation escalated with an attack on Bon Repos Police Station, north of Port-au-Prince, leaving at least four people dead and three wounded. Separate attacks occurred across the capital, including near the airport, a prison in downtown Port-au-Prince, and inside the prison itself.

The violence erupted as Henry signed a reciprocal agreement with Kenyan President William Ruto for the planned deployment of a multinational security support mission of 1,000 police officers to Haiti, authorized by the UN, with Kenya as the lead nation.

“From Kenya, we are ready for this deployment, and I request all other partners across the globe to step up so that we can provide a response in good time,” stated Ruto. Henry remarked, “Finally, we sign. It’s the last step.”

Back in Haiti, gangs vowed to continue the violence, disrupting operations near the domestic and international terminals of the Toussaint Louverture International Airport and surrounding areas. Flight cancellations occurred, and at least four people were killed during an attack on a police station.

American Airlines and several others suspended operations between Miami and Port-au-Prince’s Toussaint Louverture International Airport due to the unrest.

The gang leader reiterated that the violence would persist to prevent Henry’s return.

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Videos circulating online from local media depict chaos in the streets as shootings erupt, forcing residents to flee their homes and businesses to close.

Warring gangs control much of Port-au-Prince, impeding vital supply lines and terrorizing the population. Approximately 200,000 people have been displaced, and crime rates continue to rise, with January alone recording 1,100 people killed, injured, or kidnapped.

Public frustration mounts against Prime Minister Henry for his failure to address the unrest, exacerbated by his inability to hold elections, originally scheduled for last month.

Henry assured other Caribbean leaders during a regional summit that elections would take place no later than August 31 next year, marking the first confirmation of a timeline for the vote.

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