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Haiti: Chérizier snuffs out lives, while fighting for his own, accusers and defenders say

The ongoing violence in Port-au-Prince has deteriorated to the point that even the most prominent of the capital’s gang leaders knows he’s facing death. 

In a voice message circulating on WhatsApp since June 18, Jimmy “Barbecue” Chérizier has vowed to fight back as he faces a perilous reality.

“All I know is that I’m not going to die on my knees,” Chérizier said. “I’m not going to tell someone to come get me and kill me.”

Violence perpetrated by gangs against residents has long been a part of daily life in Port-au-Prince, with a kidnapping crisis being the result over the past year. In recent weeks however, the violence has escalated as gangs have battled each other more intensely to control certain neighborhoods and to continue harming residents fighting back. 

Chérizier, who denies being a gang leader, is widely believed by observers and human rights activists to be the top force behind the gang violence in Port-an-Prince, but some observers have said lately that the former police officer is rather fighting to stay alive. One instance that backs their claim is that Chérizier was shot in the chest on May 12 during one of those gun battles. 

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