Former soldiers of the disbanded Armed Forces of Haiti (FAd’H) had reportedly been occupying old military bases and training camps for several weeks as of Feb. 9. They took over a base in the Lamentin section of Carrefour, a city just southwest of Port-au-Prince in the West department, according to Carrefour mayor Yvon Jérômel, and occupations were also reported in the northwestern city of Gonaïves, Artibonite department, and at Cerca-la-Source in the Central Plateau, Center department. The former soldiers were said to be wearing uniforms and carrying out exercises; it isn’t clear who their leaders are or who has been financing their actions.
The Fad’H was abolished on Jan. 6, 1995 by then-president Jean-Bertrand Aristide (1991-1996, 2001-2004). Growing out of a military and police force created by the US during its 1915-1934 military occupation, the Haitian army carried out several military coups during its 60-year history and gained a reputation for massacres and other atrocities against the civilian population.
Right-wing president Michel Martelly (“Sweet Micky”) is considering plans for reviving the FAd’H. An ad hoc commission was set up in November to study the possibilities; it is scheduled to issue its recommendations in May. But Interior Minister Thierry Mayard-Paul told the AlterPresse internet news service that the base occupations were not carried out “with the government’s blessing.” “We’re inviting [the ex-soldiers] to stay calm,” he said. “The rehabilitation process for the armed forces is very complicated and should be conducted in a rational, progressive and profound manner.”
“[O]ur patience has its limits, we can’t wait forever,” a spokesperson for the Coalition of Demobilized Soldiers (CONAMID), former sergeant David Dormé, said when asked about the occupations. “[T]he demobilized soldiers are determined to protect their bases… We’re not afraid, and we won’t give in to pressure.” (Haïti Libre, Haiti, Feb. 9; AlterPresse, Feb. 10)
From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Feb. 12.
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