By Onz Chery
The United States has sanctioned gang leader Jimmy “Barbecue” Cherizier and two former members of President Jovenel Moïse’s administration, Fednel Monchery and Joseph Pierre Richard Duplan, for orchestrating the 2018 La Saline massacre.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced the sanctions Thursday, which is International Human Rights Day, in a press release.
“Cherizier, Monchery, and Duplan are designated [human rights abusers] for being foreign persons responsible for or complicit in, or having directly or indirectly engaged in, serious human rights abuse,” U.S. officials said in the release.
All three men played a central role in the attack, where armed gangs murdered over 71 residents in the massacre, destroyed at least 400 houses and raped at least seven women. The gang members executed victims, including children, then dragged their bodies into the streets to be burned, dismembered, and fed to animals.
Duplan masterminded the massacre, Monchery supplied guns and vehicles, and Cherizier mobilized the gangs to execute the attack, according to the release.
“In exchange for executing attacks designed to create instability and silence the Port-au-Prince population’s demands for improved living conditions, gangs receive money, political protection, and enough firearms to reportedly make them better armed than the [police],” the release states.
Roles in the massacre
Duplan, then Moïse’s Departmental Delegate, is accused of being the “intellectual architect” of the attack, meeting with armed gang members in La Saline during the violence, and providing firearms and police uniforms to gang members.
Monchery, at the time of the attack in 2018, was the general director of the ministry of the interior and local authorities. He is accused of providing weapons as well as state vehicles to the gangs, according to the news release.
Cherizier then allegedly led the gangs that killed, maimed and destroyed people and property throughout 2018 and 2019 across Port-au-Prince neighborhoods, including La Saline in 2018. The U.S. government says in the announcement that Cherizier led last May’s five-day siege of multiple Port-au-Prince neighborhoods.
“Widespread violence and growing criminality by armed gangs in Haiti is bolstered by a judiciary that does not prosecute those responsible for attacks on civilians,” the U.S. government officials added. “These gangs, with the support of some Haitian politicians, repress political dissent in Port-au-Prince neighborhoods known to participate in anti-government demonstrations.”
Why the massacre took place
A more detailed 2018 report on the massacre by the National Network for the Defense of Human Rights (RNDDH)’s hinted that the attack happened because La Saline residents refused to prevent Moïse opposition groups from protesting in their streets, even after being offered bribes for two schools and a health center.
Cherizier, Duplan and Monchery attended a meeting where the massacre was planned and the guns were distributed, according to RNDDH.
Other officials named in the report as being involved in the La Saline horror are Haiti’s First Lady Martine Moïse, Roudolphe Saint Albin, then minister of the interior, Dr. Greta Marie Greta Roy Clement, then minister of public health and population, and William Cheng-hao Hu, then Taiwan Ambassador to Haiti.
They were all present in the meeting in which the La Saline leaders didn’t want to negotiate or accept the alleged bribe of schools and health center, according to RNDDH.
Cherizier, who was on the Haitian police force at the time of the attack, was expelled and has become one of the most wanted criminals in Haiti. He formed the G9 Family and Allies in 2019.
The group has been accused of kidnapping residents and carrying out another massacre in Bel Air in late August. Cherizier often denies the accusations on Facebook Live and said on the contrary that the G9’s mission is to help residents.
Gregory Antoine, a former police officer, was also accused in orchestrating the massacre, but he was shot dead in January 2019. His family accused rival gangsters.