A Corps Revived? Both Presidential Candidates Want to Bring Back the Haitian Army
|Wednesday, 09 March 2011 17:48|
The AP’s Ben Fox has a story today on hopes by various former members of the Haitian army (Forces Armée de Haiti, or FADH) that the next president will reconstitute the military force. Haiti has been without an army since President Aristide disbanded it in 1994 following the results of polling that showed 62 percent in favor of the move.
Describing men who “represent nothing more than an informal movement of Haitians eager to re-establish an army - an idea that unnerves Haitians who remember times darkened by military coups, oppression and abuse,” Fox notes that both presidential candidates seem to favor reviving the army, despite its record of human rights abuses:
Martelly, who in the past has suggested he could have dictatorial tendencies as president (abolishing congress and outlawing all strikes and demonstrations in a “Fujimori-style solution”), and who openly supported the coups against Aristide, wants the Haitian army to replace MINUSTAH, which itself has committed a variety of serious rights abuses since arriving in Haiti in 2004:
(Martelly also has stated previously that he would like to see the reconstituted FADH take on a role in rebuilding the country, including the planting of trees – the latter an idea also proposed in the past [PDF] by former FADH members such as the now-deceased Remissainthe Ravix.)
Some of the former FADH, Fox notes, have problematic pasts:
While it may be “hard to see what Haiti gains” from giving guns and power back to murderers and coup participants -- especially considering Jean-Claude Duvalier’s recent return to the country -- the gains for the would-be recruits seem clear in the absence of adequate jobs programs, or other alternatives, as Haitians continue to be sidelined from relief and reconstruction contracts. Fox writes:
It is also notable that claims of former FADH that they’re “technically still on duty” are nothing new; "We're not former military; we are military," the former death squad leader, 2004 coup figure, and former police chief Guy Philippe told the San Francisco Chronicle in 2004. Human rights investigators who visited Haiti after the 2004 coup against Aristide also encountered armed paramilitaries who claimed to represent the reconstituted FADH. Indeed, “reports that the disbanded Haitian Army had returned and was openly patrolling and killing in the poor neighborhoods” was something that a November 2004 investigation [PDF] for the University of Miami School of Law sought to assess.
Although not a focus of the article. AP touches on this as well. Fox talks to Police Chief Mario Andresol
Andresol, according to the AP article, does not seem opposed to a revival of the FADH:
No analysis in the article is offered to explain why, if there might be funds sufficient to reconstitute the army, those same funds could not be used to hire some of the supposed 30,000 “waiting to join” – many of whom would not bring with them the checkered histories of rights abuses and involvement in coups that many former FADH and former paramilitaries have.