PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Jimmy Cherizier zips through Haiti’s capital on the back of a motorcycle, flanked by young men wielding black and leopard print masks and automatic weapons.
As the pack of bikes flies by graffiti reading “Mafia boss” in Creole, street vendors selling vegetables, meats and old clothes on the curb cast their eyes to the ground or peer curiously.
Cherizier, best known by his childhood nickname Barbecue, has become the most recognized name in Haiti.
And here in his territory, enveloped by the tin-roofed homes and bustling streets of the informal settlement La Saline, he is the law.
Internationally, he’s known as Haiti’s most powerful and feared gang leader, sanctioned by the United Nations for “serious human rights abuses,” and the man behind a fuel blockade that brought the Caribbean nation to its knees late last year.
But if you ask the former police officer with gun tattoos running up his arm, he’s a “revolutionary,” advocating against a corrupt government that has left a nation of 12 million people in the dust.
“I’m not a thief. I’m not involved in kidnapping. I’m not a rapist. I’m just carrying out a social fight,” Cherizier, leader of “G9 Family and Allies,” told The Associated Press while sitting in a chair in the middle of an empty road in the shadow of a home with windows shattered by bullets. “I’m a threat to the system.”…
READ FULL ARTICLE HERE… | AP News
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