The G-9 Family and Allies, an alliance of armed poor neighborhood organizations founded a year ago, added the words “Revolutionary Forces” to their name and said that they would use their weapons to “deliver the country [from its travails] once and for all,” in a dramatic televised ceremony on Wed., Jun. 23, 2021 in the Port-au-Prince shantytown of La Saline.
Heavily armed men brandishing automatic weapons and machetes provided the backdrop for the announcement of the “Revolutionary Forces of the G-9 Family and Allies, Mess with One You Mess with All,” the full official name of the front uniting neighborhood gangs in different parts of Haiti’s capital.
“We note that for more than 40 years, the country has been controlled by a small group of people who decide everything (fè e defè),” said the FRG-9 leader and spokesman, Jimmy “Barbecue” Cherizier, a former elite police officer, referring to Haiti’s tiny bourgeoisie. “They put guns into the poor neighborhoods for us to fight with one another for their benefit.”
For the first time in his public statements, which appear frequently on YouTube and social media sites, Cherizier’s remarks had a distinct, but not explicit, anti-imperialist flavor. He began the speech by saluting Haitian founding father Jean-Jacques Dessalines, famous independence hero Capois La Mort, and then, most significantly, Charlemagne Péralte, the leader of the caco guerilla resistance which fought U.S. Marines at the beginning of their 1915-1934 military occupation of Haiti.
“They destroyed our Creole pigs,” Cherizier said, a reference to the 1983 slaughter of millions of indigenous Haitian pigs suspected of being infected with African swine fever. The watershed extermination, in which the U.S. State Department’s Agency for International Development (USAID) played a leading role, is often cited by Haitian leftists as the beginning of the end of Haiti’s peasant agriculture.
“They destroyed our national production,” he also said, addressing the decimation of Haitian agriculture by food dumping and lowered import tariffs brought about by Washington-sponsored neoliberal reforms beginning in the mid-1980s.
Furthermore, he explicitly criticized Haitian de facto president Jovenel Moïse’s ruling party, the Haitian Bald-Headed Party (PHTK), for which he has often been accused of working, despite his repeated denials.
“The PHTK is holding a referendum and elections to defend their personal interests,” Cherizier said in the speech, which also criticized Moïse’s bourgeois opposition. “The opposition needs a ‘transition’ [provisional government] so that they can steal money. All the bourgeois have franchises, [where] they don’t pay taxes. In the end, the people are left to fend for themselves. They are all against us. Today the time has come where we will use our arms against all of them.”
(Meanwhile, Haitian officials announced that a twice-postponed referendum on rewriting Haiti’s 1987 Constitution will now take place on Sep. 26, the same date as the first round of nationwide presidential, parliamentary, and municipal elections. The elections’ first round were previously scheduled to take place on Sep. 19.)
Reached by telephone on Jun. 23 before the press conference, Cherizier told Haïti Liberté that “we are not focusing only on Jovenel [Moïse] but on a whole system which is not good, stinks, and is corrupt… We have to overturn the whole system, where 12 families have taken the nation hostage.”
Asked about a giant mural of iconic revolutionary Che Guevara which adorned a wall facing his former headquarters in Delmas 6, Cherizier said “we made that mural, and we intend to make murals of other figures like [assassinated Burkina Faso revolutionary leader] Thomas Sankara and [late Cuban leader] Fidel Castro, to depict people who have engaged in struggle…”
Reached again on Jun. 29, Cherizier was asked if the FRG-9 was advocating for the appointment of Dr. Ariel Henry as the new Prime Minister. Henry, a neurosurgeon, was part of the reviled U.S.-instigated “Council of the Wise” which facilitated the transfer of power after the 2004 coup d’état against President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. He has also served variously as Health Ministry Director General, Interior Minister, and Social Affairs Minister under the administrations of presidents René Préval and Michel Martelly. He is rumored to be favored by Jovenel Moïse to replace interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph, who is standing in for former PM Joseph Jouthe after his abrupt resignation in April.
“We don’t even know who Ariel Henry is,” Cherizier responded. “We rather ask for Jovenel to leave the country.”
Two viral videos captured by security cameras of Ti Tony Market, which was looted last week, and posted on Haitian social media by none other than Michèle Bennett Duvalier, the former wife of the late dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier, purport to show Cherizier, masked with a pistol in hand, directing looters in the store. (Many speculate that the store’s owner, Anthony Bennett, is related to Ms. Duvalier.)
Cherizier adamantly denies that he is the masked man, who appears to have the same build and gait as Cherizier and to be wearing the same shirt that Cherizier wore in another video.
“No, it’s not me,” Cherizier insisted. “Not one member of [the G-9] entered into Ti Tony and engaged in looting. But we’ve always said that the day there is uprooting [dechoukaj] in the country, we will orient the people where to go… The [bourgeois] who are the masters of the system, who are responsible for the misery we are in, they are never the victim…. The people are hungry, the people need food. The [bourgeois] selling food in the country, importing food, they are responsible for the people’s hunger. We’ll tell the people to go to them to look for food. The [bourgeois] who have the banks, where the people’s money is while at the same time the people have no access to credit, we’ll keep telling the people to go get their money at the banks. The [bourgeois] with car dealerships, where the people in the poor neighborhoods will never have access for a single day in their lives to drive a car from a dealership, we’ll continue to tell the people to go get their vehicles from the car dealerships. The videos, you see circulating, I would like anybody to prove, by A + B… that I am the person in those videos.”
Cherizier also told Haïti Liberté that the Haitian National Police’s (PNH) specialized unit, the Company for Intervention to Maintain Order (CIMO), killed four people and wounded over 20 in its assault two weeks ago on Delmas 6, which was mostly burned and destroyed. “There are also people who have disappeared and who the bandits led away, whom we haven’t yet found,” Cherizier said.
Cherizier said that he will hold a press conference on Jun. 30 and that the FRG-9 will have a demonstration on Jul. 1.
“The FRG-9’s struggle is to overthrow the system,” Cherizier concluded.