Haiti army: Michel Martelly’s plans divide opinion-Added COMMENTARY By Haitian-Truth

By Laura Trevelyan BBC News, Port-au-Prince

Potential recruits are keen to be put through their paces

Haiti’s President Michel Martelly has proposed reviving the country’s army, which was disbanded in 1995.

He says it is time Haiti defended its own borders. Yet critics inside and outside the country are asking whether bringing back an entity so associated with Haiti’s violent past should really be a priority for the earthquake-ravaged nation.

Inside a dusty, makeshift parade ground on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince, 200 young volunteers in green army fatigues are marching up and down, mostly in step.

Their dream is to join the army.

Suddenly, they drop to the ground, imaginary guns in hand. Despite the sign on the gatepost which says Armee D’Haiti, this is not an official army base.

Haitian President Michel Martelly - speaking on 11 January 2012 President Martelly says the new army will be a modern force able to help cope with emergencies

The men and women are enthusiasts who buy their own uniforms and meet their own training costs, hoping one day to enlist for real.

The prospective recruits are being drilled by an ex-soldier, Commandant Jeudy Yves.

The former military man says President Martelly’s plan to revive Haiti’s army is exactly what the country needs.

“We can protect our own borders, our own airport, and our own waters. Haitians should be doing this, not foreigners. The United Nations peacekeepers are foreigners, and they don’t know us,” he says.

Resentment towards UN peacekeepers, who have been providing security for Haiti since 2004, has grown in the wake of the cholera epidemic which broke out in late 2010.

UN troops from Nepal are suspected of having introduced the disease into the country.

“The UN hasn’t looked after Haiti, they’ve only killed more people. We will do a better job of caring for our own,” one potential recruit says angrily.

Bad memories

High in the hills of Peguy Ville, above the plain where the army hopefuls drill, President Martelly told the BBC that his proposal to restore Haiti’s army should not be seen as controversial.

“We do have an army here today, which is not ours. So why have a foreign army and not have our own? They could be Haitians,” said Mr Martelly.

“We are looking for jobs for our youth, for Haitians. Why do we offer so many jobs to foreigners and not to Haitians? It does not make sense to me.”

However, talk of reforming Haiti’s army has proved divisive in a country with a violent past.

The armed forces were disbanded in 1995 by the-then President, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, after being involved in a series of coups.

Feared private militias such as the Tontons Macoutes were used by the Duvalier presidents, Papa Doc and Baby Doc, to cement their own rule and silence opposition.

A camp for internally displaced people on the site of a football pitch in Port-au-Prince, Haiti - 11 January 2012 Many donor governments say a new army is not the biggest priority for Haiti

Pierre Esperance, executive director of the National Human Rights Defence Network, said: “The army we used to have in Haiti was involved in a lot of crime, drug-trafficking, human rights violations.

“If they create a new force, it should work to support the democratic movement in Haiti.”

The concern that Mr Esperance and others have is how to keep the army independent of politicians, so it does not revert to being an oppressive instrument of the governing class.

President Martelly, the singer-turned-politician, argues that times have changed in Haiti.

“We’re talking about a modern army, we’re talking about an army which can intervene in case of an emergency like the earthquake with the medical corps, an engineering corps,” he said.

He went on: “An army that protects our borders, fights narco traffic and maintains peace too in case of a riot.”

But in the past, rulers in Haiti have used militias to suppress dissent, so how will the army be different this time?

“That’s why I’m focusing on the mission,” Mr Martelly said, “on the doctrine, not on the army, not on the name itself because many people are scared of the name.”

Mr Martelly said he recognised that, for many Haitians, the army brought back memories of the past.

“But the thing is to have the right formation – that’s why we want our allies, our partners, to help us in putting together the right army with the right mission.”

Police priority

So far the Western countries helping Haiti to rebuild after the earthquake have proved reluctant to fund a new army, asking whether this should be a priority for a nation with so many challenges.

“In terms of providing security for the Haitian people, we are committed to helping them professionalise and grow the Haitian national police,” the US ambassador to Haiti, Ken Merten, told the BBC.

“That’s where we think we and the Haitians will get the most bang for their buck.”

President Martelly is likely to eventually find the funds for a new army, analysts suggest, but it will be a modest force to begin with.

For the enthusiastic prospective soldiers square-bashing in the afternoon sun, that day cannot come soon enough.

Marcel, an impassioned young man, says bringing back the army will help the youth who are living in desperate poverty.

And Bernadette, a tall young woman, says: “We need security, and the army would provide that.”



The fact of the matter is a simple one.

The vast majority of the Haitian people have always respected their Forces Armees d’Haiti.  Since its inception, the FAdH provided stability to the nation and prevented grabs for dictatorial power – such as that successfully managed by ARISTIDE – once he had dissolved the FAdH.

We are not looking for a force with nuclear capability.

It doesn’t even have to possess the assault rifles loved by MINUSTAH.

All is requires is the respect and admiration of the vast Haitian majority, a respect that has always existed….even during the years between Aristide’s illegal, unconstitutional shut down in 1995.

Unfortunately, for Haiti, the foreign media has always looked for negative things, where none exist, and positive things….where Aristide and Preval lurk. The present situation, in Haiti, is the direct result of outside meddlers who have created a disastrously flawed opinion of Haiti’s real wants and needs.

It is time for a profession and proper revival of the FAdH and this will not be done with 200 young men crawling around, playing soldiers.  The revival, of the FAdH must be coordinated by those who have the knowledge, and ability to create a new force.

This force will be “An Army of the People.”  The new military will be more an engineering battalion, with medical and security capabilities. The White Paper for this restructuring was created by my relative, Colonel Pat Collins, Military Attache at the American embassy, during the embargo period of 1991-1994.

This plan was the basis for Aristide’s return.

Unfortunately, an American general aided Aristide in his assault on the FAdH and the existing senior members of the FAdH did not resist Aristide’s illegal moves.

It is time for the world community to – for once – recognize what the people of Haiti really want…and not what the international community “thinks” they should have.


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4 thoughts on “Haiti army: Michel Martelly’s plans divide opinion-Added COMMENTARY By Haitian-Truth

  1. This is the second time it seems to me that you are arguing in favor of a Haitian army, and I believe that you did not grow up in Haiti to know about some really negative aspects of the Haitian mentality. Precisely most of those who love to exert authority on others in our culture have invariably fallen into the love of abuse. This is a kind of paranoia that a few decrees cannot just delete.
    I am convinced that whatever type of Haitian army you get you will have to deal with those corrupt guys that the Haitian bourgeoisie is going to use to grab and remain in power. Why do you think Martelly wants so much an army? What do you think he would have done after ordering the arrest of A. Belizaire if this thing had gone unnoticed? Did you know that some days before that incident, Mr Martelly had declared to the media that he was going to be quite cynical toward some sectors in the Haitian society? Now, let us assume that that guy (who is of a low morale, a fact well documented by his public lifestyle as an artist) really has several citizenship and that he had already raised an army when the truth about his double citizenship would be discovered. As a Haitian do you know what he would say? I won’t move. (By the way, he is already trying to play tricks by laughing at hat serious accusation against him. Unfortunately he does not realize that in Haiti right now are present three former Presidents who were taken charge of when they began to act crazy…
    Look, when it comes to leading a country where millions of lives are at stake those in power must strictly follow the path of RATIONALITY. There is no necessity for spending millions of dollars every year in such a poor country to maintain an army which is in reality not needed. (Tell me, what’s the need?) Then, no need for army; don’t spend all this money uselessly to bring an army. This is rationality. As for the rest, it is about political ambitions of those “political” thieves who think they have all the intelligence of the world in their mind by being dishonest whereas we, the rest, are all stupid.
    I believe that you wee genuinely misled to trust those paranoiac.

    1. In reply to Ronald- I visit this site often, and see that the Army is needed to help with building the infrastructure that is needed by the Haitians that cannot afford to hop on a plane to another country. What about them? I think the army would also provide jobs for families, and pride as well. Yes, there are other ways to make a job, but the army would be able to help in putting Haiti back together. Just like the USA army corps of engineers. They build ravines for agriculture to get water, and they build bridges and roads. Why do the americans use the army corps of engineers- Training discipline and consistent skill sets. You cannont achieve this in Haiti without it being done by the army. Those are just a few matters, but to answer your question about why Haiti needs it’s army would take up a lot of time and space. The arguments against an army are few, and usually put forth by people that don’t even live in Haiti.

  2. First of all, Belazaire is a criminal who should have been jailed for filing false electoral documents. He was jailed for other crimes and, because of this, is not legally qualified to be a Deputy.

    Haitian army, or PNH, you will have to deal with corruption, but that is a challenge for society.

    You are one of those idiots who want to believe Martelly has dual citizenship. He has Haitian citizenship – period!

    However, there are some three dozen Deputies and Senators who have foreign citizenship…such as American, Canadian and French. These names will be exposed shortly. We are waiting for the list.

    Perhaps I have been involved with Haiti for longer than you have been alive. The FAdH has always played an important part in the Nation’s affairs. It acted as a countervailing force to prevent grabs at dictatorial power…as was the case in Aristide’s case. Do you think that Aristide/Preval would have lasted that long with the FAdH in power?

    So the democratically elected representatives are thieves. I agree with this.

    But you must like something about Haiti, even though you have chosen to live in the United States.

    Of course I have written in favor of the FAdH and will continue to do this.

  3. In any and every country armies are used for the benefit of the state. any country that does not have a fully functioning army is not worthy of being an independent functioning state.
    Having said that, the joke of an army being proposed by Mr. Martelly and his people, clearly shows their deficient intellectual capabilities.
    Army have always been used to further civil development. If a government fails to use its army properly, it is the error of that government not the army.
    it is irrational to the army and not make good use of what could the most efficient way to transform society

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