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Haiti resuscitates its armed force, generating fears of repression

Port-au-Prince – Haiti has announced plans to reinstall its armed forces to deal with natural disasters and smuggling, but fears arise that the military will resume the criminal wave or be used as a weapon of political repression two decades after the dissolution of the army.

The poorest country in the Americas announced the initial recruitment of 500 men and women between the ages of 18 and 25, invoking the need to “claim national sovereignty” as the UN closes the 13-year chapter of its peacekeeping mission with blue helmets.

The Haiti Stabilization Mission (MINUSTAH) came into force in 2004 to halt the violence that followed the sudden departure of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and must anchors in October, within a framework of improvements to the security situation And a successful electoral process after two years of political uncertainty.

The UN will leave in Haiti a small training force for police officers from several countries. “The exit of the blue helmets is a challenge, but it is something that we have been planning,” Defense Minister Herve Denis told AFP.
Dark past

The government says it plans to deploy troops on the border with the Dominican Republic to combat smuggling, and in regions affected by natural disasters in the mountainous Caribbean country.

Denis added that he will also fight terrorism, stressing “regional responsibilities”, although he acknowledged that for the moment the small nation is not being threatened by any external enemy.

The constitution calls for a military force to operate alongside the police, but the official said he prefers the use of the term “defense and security force.”

“I want people to understand that we want to create a new type of institution that is with the country in its search for development,” he said.

The change of image is forced by the turbulent past of the institution. The Haitian armed forces were dissolved in 1995 by then-President Aristide – who had been ousted in a military coup seven months after taking office in 1991 – which ended decades of political interference by the uniformed and dozens of coups State.

But the country has another bloody history of militias, such as the infamous Tonton Macoute, loyal to dictators Fran├žois Duvalier (called “Papa Doc”) and his son Jean Claude, known as ‘Baby Doc’, during his 25 years in the power.

More than two decades after the soldiers were sent home, the new recruitment drive generates nervousness among organized civil society.

“There is no legal framework to define the missions of this army,” criticized Pierre Esperance, director of the National Human Rights Defense Network.

“Those in power want to create a political militia or a paramilitary group, not an army,” he said. There are also questions about the cost of force – which will eventually comprise between 3,000 and 5,000 members – in a country with an annual budget of $ 2.2 billion.

“It would be better for the authorities to concentrate their efforts on the national police … which should be better equipped,” Esperance said.

Created in 1995, the police have less than 13,000 troops, a figure considered largely insufficient for a population of 11 million.

Source: Detras del Rumor

July 13, 2017

Category: DR News |

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Last updated January 20, 2018 at 6:48 PM
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